It’s February in the Black Hills. The glow of the Christmas holidays has faded, and we still have a solid two – maybe three and, Lord help us, let it not be more – months of winter ahead. Of course, snowmobilers are just getting revved up, but what about the rest of us? If you are looking for an excuse to cut loose, Deadwood’s Mardi Gras weekend should be your party destination this upcoming Friday and Saturday. Historically, Mardi Gras is the last blast before Lent, the approximately 40 days before Easter when Christian believers repent, pray, fast and otherwise practice self-denial before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. In fact, Mardi Gras translates to “Fat Tuesday,” set for Feb. 12 this year, which precedes Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Fat Tuesday is the last day for eating rich, fatty foods. Rich, fatty foods will be on hand in Deadwood on Saturday, when the Cajun Cook-Off takes place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at various locations throughout Deadwood. But the party actually begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, with a masquerade ball and the coronation of the 2013 Mardi Gras King and Queen at Deadwood Mountain Grand. The high jinks continue with Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble taking the stage at 10 p.m. Saturday evening, the jinks get even higher as thousands of spectators line Deadwood's Main Street with hopes of catching some of the 100,000 strings of beads tossed out during the annual Mardi Gras Parade of Lights. The Mardi Gras royalty lead the procession of floats and marchers. Then there’s a Cajun music finale at 9 p.m. with another appearance of Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble at Deadwood Mountain Grand. It’s all free to the public. More info: www.deadwood.org or www.facebook.com/historicdeadwood.