Travel 2 hours west of New Orleans and you end up in Cajun country--land of the crawfish boil, swamps, snakes and gators!
Men in Mamou, LA, chase a chicken during the 'Courir de Mardi Gras,' an event held each year in many Cajun communities. On the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, men dress in costume, play music, drink and gather ingredients for the evening's communal pot of gumbo. Often, a live chicken is thrown into the air for the men to chase down.
Participants at the annual Faquetigue Mardi Gras Courir outside of Eunice, LA. The Faquetigue is an alternative to the main 'courir,' which many felt had become too rowdy. Participants still beg for food and chase chickens, but the run ends with a stop at Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee's grave site, where revelers play music and honor the legendary musician.
A sign warns of the dangers of Louisiana swamps.
An old abandoned house on the bayou in Louisiana.
An airboat on a Louisiana swamp. Many companies offer swamp tours -- you might even catch a glimpse of a gator or 2!
The spoils of a Louisiana crawfish boil, a Cajun country tradition.
Revelers in New Orleans celebrate Mardi Gras, a holiday that was traditionally celebrated by Catholics of French descent. Residents and tourists of all backgrounds now embrace the holiday.
Shrimp fisherman Merlin Boudreaux holds up the catch of the day from his boat during the annual Shrimp & Petroleum Festival in Morgan City, LA. The festival celebrates the coexistence of the oil and seafood industries on the 'Cajun Coast' of Louisiana.
The queen of the 2010 Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival walks the festival grounds with some of her court.
Like many southern Louisiana towns, Breaux Bridge takes pride in its crawfish. The annual Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival is one of the largest gatherings of Cajun and zydeco musicians in the world. The festival also features crawfish races, a crawfish eating contest, a crawfish étouffée cook-off and a Cajun dance contest.
A man sits on the dock in front of a Louisiana swamp house.
Cajun country is known for horseracing, and Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, LA, is the place to do it. A casino and hotel are also located onsite.
A Louisiana swamp.
Grab a drink and listen to live music at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette, LA, the heart of Cajun country.
Watch out for snakes ' this one decided to relax on a branch at Honey Island Swamp on the Pearl River.
These guys are common swamp dwellers as well.