HomeCultureCarnival Goes to Charleston

Carnival Goes to Charleston

by Erin Z. Bass

Two years ago, Donnie Bulliard started hosting suppers to get his Charleston friends interested in starting a Mardi Gras krewe. A native of St. Martinville, Louisiana, he hoped to persuade them with the Cajun food like gumbo and crawfish etouffee he grew up eating. People came and ate, but nobody joined his krewe. Summer came, and Bulliard found himself catering a party on Kiawah Island. (He also teaches cooking classes through Cajun Kitchen.) He spotted a girl dancing and thought to himself: “That’s our queen for Mardi Gras.” She turned out to be Joya Darby Wolf and accepted Bulliard’s offer of queendom. That’s her pictured on the right with Bulliard in the center. And that’s how the Krewe of Charleston was born.

The only Mardi Gras krewe on the Atlantic Coast, Charleston’s krewe held its first ball with close to 5,000 people in attendance. Now, the krewe is preparing for its second-annual Grand Ball Masque on February 12 at the Mariott in downtown Charleston. With former first lady of South Carolina Jenny Sullivan Sanford and New York businessman and Charleston resident John McAvoy serving as this year’s royalty, the ball is expected to sell out by the end of the week.

Bulliard’s krewe is staying true to form, with eight dukes and duchesses chosen to accompany the king and queen and all the traditional Mardi Gras fixins, from beads to masks, umbrellas, sequins and feathers in attendance. Starting at 10 a.m. the day of the ball, decorated boats carrying revelers and members of the court will depart from Charleston Marina and be joined by the the king and queen so the public can take part in the festivities.

“We’re rolling and I’m excited,” says Bulliard. “It’s really happening. People from the the governor on down are coming.”

Want to go? Tickets are $150 and include the ball, food, drinks and music by Rockin’ Doopsie & the Zydeco Twisters direct from New Orleans. Purchase them online or call Eileen Lentz at 843-762-3122. Rooms at the Marriott are also available at a special rate of $140.

Want to join? Memberships at the levels of founding members, couples and individuals range from $300-$1,000 and include eligibility to serve on the court, ride in the parade, invitations to members-only parties and tickets to the ball.

See a video from last year’s ball here: Krewe of Charleston Mardi Gras 2010 from David Keller on Vimeo.

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  • Donnie Bulliard / February 26, 2011

    Dear Erin,

    Thanks so much for the coverage! Great story and great publicity for our Krewe. We’ve come such a long way….from popcorn & chicken wings to a Grand Ball! I am planning a trip to the Big Mambo in New Orleans next week. Hope to see you soon!

    Donnie Bulliard

  • Roxanne / March 7, 2011

    Do you have contact info so I can possibly discuss ideas about a Mardi Gras Krewe in my area? I am interested in starting a krewe, but a little overwhelmed.

  • Donnie bulliard / September 3, 2011

    Feel free to call. 843-437-1519

    Sorry, I am just seeing this post.