Downtown Sherman stores and businesses brought Mardi Gras from the Mississippi River to the Red River when they hosted a Mardi Gras Bead Crawl on Saturday. More than 35 businesses celebrated the holiday by handing out beads and holding special events with live music for visitors and patrons.

Downtown Sherman stores and businesses brought Mardi Gras from the Mississippi River to the Red River when they hosted a Mardi Gras Bead Crawl on Saturday. More than 35 businesses celebrated the holiday by handing out beads and holding special events with live music for visitors and patrons.


In previous years, Downtown Sherman Preservation and Revitalization has held an annual Mardi Gras and Jazz festival. However, due to poor weather in previous years, DSP&R decided to focus on a craft beverage festival in April, but helped coordinate Saturday’s events after several local businesses expressed interest in starting a similar event.


"Fortunately, we have great weather this year for an indoor event," DSP&R Executive Director Karen Tooley said.


In late 2015, organizers decided to move festivities inside due to worries about the weather, Tooley said. She estimated that about 1,000 people would visit downtown Sherman on Saturday to take advantage of the events and sales local merchants were offering.


"Ultimately, what we wanted to do was get people through the front door of many local businesses," Tooley said.


Through this, Tooley said she hoped that this would bring further awareness of what Downtown Sherman has to offer. These attractions include the businesses themselves, but also the opportunities that downtown offers for residents and new businesses alike.


"We are right on the brink of something big down here," Tooley said, noting increased property values, downtown living options and new businesses that have recently opened shop.


The events coincided with a performance of the N’Awlins Gumbo Kings at the Sherman Jazz Museum, which was scheduled prior to the events.


"(Mardi Gras) is about foot-tapping happy music and that basically says everything," the museum’s Susan Collins said. "I don’t think that it matters that we aren’t on the Mississippi River. The Red River is close enough."


Among the participants in Saturday’s Mardi Gras festivities was St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which hosted a mask making station for children and adults alike.


"For the last several months, we’ve been trying to find a way to connect with the downtown community," the Rev. Wesley Evans said.


Evans said the church wanted to host an activity that could appeal to visitors of all ages. Despite some of the celebrations elsewhere in the country, Evans said he saw no trouble with celebrating the holiday in moderation.


"There is nothing wrong with having a fun party before Lent," he said.


At Painting with a Twist, artists held classes in the morning and outdoor painting demonstrations in the afternoon. This was topped off by a live painting of a fleur-de-lis, a French decorative design popular in Louisiana, outside the shop that evening.


"People have been stopping by to get beads and wine all day, but it also gets people in the door and looking at our art," owner Tedra Franklin said.


Franklin said the event was a success in that it introduced her business, which offers art and painting lessons, to nearly 200 people who might not otherwise know about it.


"You offer something for people to do, and they will come, especially if it is free," she said.