Mardi Gras SETX fate remaining a mystery; move away from Port Arthur considered

Published 12:18 am Thursday, August 8, 2019

The fate of Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, a mainstay in downtown Port Arthur since 1993, remains a mystery — at least officially.

Several people with the organization either have “no comment” or no information to report on whether the annual Port Arthur-based festival will move to neighboring Beaumont or not. It’s no secret that officials with MGSETX shopped the event around, first to Port Neches in a bid to move — and was told no there — as well as presenting information to Beaumont city councilmembers.

The Port Arthur News has obtained information that at least one local Mardi Gras krewe is on the fence about the move. This group is comprised of many Port Arthur residents, former residents and those who work in the city. Many expressed hope that some sort of Mardi Gras event would be held in Port Arthur, adding they did not wish to participate in it if it moves to Beaumont.

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Once the final decision is made, then a krewe captains meeting will be held and their decision will be made public.

Tim Romero, chairman of the MGSETX board, said he could not comment but indicated answers will soon be known. Pat Avery, president of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and a MGSETX board member, said she doesn’t have any information on the issue. A call to Laura Childress, president of MGSETX, was not returned by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Beaumont City Manager Kyle Hayes was out of the office until Monday, according to a person in City Hall.

A contract between MGSETX and the city of Port Arthur expired July 31.

Leaders with MGSETX brought their perceived troubles to a previous administration at Port Arthur City Hall, where they said outside vendors were cutting into their profits at the gated, carnival area. Profits from the event are returned to the community. The city never formally responded, Mardi Gras organizers said.

Vendors inside the gates pay more than $900 for a spot there during the four-day event, money that goes to pay for things like police and insurance. Vendors outside the gates pay nothing but, Mardi Gras organizers say, siphon off profits from customers entering the carnival area.

Much to think about

MGSETX is a non-profit organization created by 18 nonprofits — there are fewer now — that put up $5,000 in seed money for the original festival.

The founders wanted to use downtown Port Arthur to make sure the people of the city could see the parade, attend a great festival with lots of color, music, food, spirits and fun, and that it is family oriented. The event is a major fundraiser for those groups.

Beaumont City Council’s agenda comes out on Friday afternoon for their Tuesday meeting. It’s not known if council will discuss the possible move or not.