St. Andrews hosts the area's biggest Mardi Gras celebration

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Panama City -- Festival organizers say they expect this year’s Mardi Gras celebration in St. Andrews to draw a crowd of 70-thousand people for the festivities and parade that will run down 11th Street and across Beck Avenue.

Things get into full swing Friday, with 70 vendors, and live music being played on eight stages. The celebration will run from 2 to 8 p.m., culminating with the Ragin’ Cajun Cook-Off, which starts at 7 p.m. and will showcase the work of 18 cooks. You can sample a little from each for a $10 entry fee. The proceeds raised will go to the local Habitat for Humanity.

Saturday is the biggest day of the event, featuring the traditional Mardi Gras parade, leaving from Oakland Terrace School at 2 p.m. The parade route heads west on 11th Street before turning right onto Beck Avenue. Many thousands of revelers line the route, and tens of thousands of beads are thrown out to the crowd as the elaborate floats and pirates make their way along the route.

But even before the parade, some early rising Mardi Gras celebrators will be earning their beads, running in the 10th annual St. Andrews Mardi Gras 5k run/walk. The race starts at the Oaks by the Bay park, and will take participants along a beautiful route down Beach Drive. All entrants will receive race t-shirts, and prizes will be awarded for each age group’s top finishers, as well as a prize for the best costume.

Performing Friday for the St. Andrews Mardi Gras will be:

On Stage 1:

2 p.m.: EastBay, offers island rock. They are the anchor band for St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers' Market

5 p.m.: Almost There, the St. Andrews teen sensation trio that performed recently at Relief for Haiti benefit

6 p.m.: 98th Army Band "Blackout Brass" from Fort Rucker, AL, their hard-hitting jazz will have you dancing in the streets

7p.m.: Tony Vegas Group offers N’awlins blues. They’ve put out 3 albums, including Nawlins Renaissance, Cajun Ladies and Rockin' the Blues

On Stage 2:

2 p.m.: Sunday Project is a Savanna-based band with a St. Andrews connection.

5 p.m.: Slim Fatz, a Grammy-nominated delta blues artist, known for his skill on resonator guitar and emotional songs about life on the street

6 p.m.: Kelly & The Healers, a mainstay for many St. Andrews establishments, the band offers a great range of classic rock.

Other live music opportunities in the St. Andrews area include Jesse Jones, who will be playing at Grace Rae’s, and Uncle Ernie’s restaurant will host John Cannon and the Kevin Jacobs Band. The Watershed bar will feature musician Sticky T, and Peg Legs Bar and Saloon will showcase sounds by both Latitude 29 and Big Mike & the Booty Papas. Granite Café is hosting American Honey and Latitude 29, while Hunts Oyster Bar hosts the Steve Wiggins Band.
Things get started again on Saturday:

On Stage 1:

10 a.m.: Tony Vegas

Noon: Kelly & Healers

4 p.m.: Legacy, offers Motown with KD, Granite Cafe's own!

6 p.m.: EastBay

Stage 2:

10 a.m.: EastBay

Noon: SlimFatz

1 p.m.: Almost There

4 p.m. Emerald County Line, a local country band that has opened for
Carrie Underwood and other national artists.

6 p.m.: Sunday Project

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