A Mardi Gras Winter Gala in February will highlight the 60th anniversary celebration of the Community Arts Series at Hanover College.

The dinner and entertainment event will feature a celebration prior to events in New Orleans kicking off on Feb. 13 before 40 days of fasting for Lent. The Mardi Gras Winter Gala will be the first of its kind for the Community Arts Series and Hanover College. Community Arts Series producer and Hanover professor Paul Hildebrand said the Horner Center's Struck Gymnasium will be transformed into a Mardi Gras party with decorations and beads to help bring a piece of Louisiana to Indiana during a performance by MOJO and the Bayou Gypsies.

"We wanted to have a big celebration," he said of the 60th anniversary event. "We were looking for a great party."

An opening in February remained while they scheduled other events for the year, Hildebrand said. He remembered watching performances by MOJO and the Bayou Gypsies at other event conferences, and soon the group was scheduled for the date near Mardi Gras.

"Everything just came together," he said.

Louisiana-based MOJO and the Bayou Gypsies, a group of six performers, will encourage the audience to get up and dance along with the entertainment. Noted for their lively showmanship and musicianship, MOJO and the Bayou Gypsies will appeal to all ages from Baby Boomers and kids to teens and seniors, a release said.

MOJO has performed for more than 40 years across the United States and internationally. The vocalist, accordion player and songwriter for The Bayou Gypsies, MOJO also serves as an advisor to the Smithsonian Institution on the history and practice of Cajun music.

"He's very dimensional," Hildebrand said.

Other members of the group include Zydeco T. Carrier on the frottoir, or rubboard; Greg "The Fire" Hirte on fiddle; Tee John Moser on drums; Beau Brian Burke on bass; and Rich "Tex" Stitzel on drums and percussion.

The group performs all original music from "Louisiana Saturday Night" to "Cypremort Point" and "Madame Magique." MOJO and the Bayou Gypsies plan to perform two sets throughout the evening.

The Mardi Gras Winter Gala will take place Feb. 8, but advance reservations much be made by Tuesday. Advance reservations are $30 and include a buffet dinner of Cajun classic dishes like Jambalaya, etoufee, beignets, red beans and rice.

The winter gala is free for Community Arts Series season subscribers, but season subscribers must reserve a seat by Jan. 29. Reservations may be made to the Hanover College Box Office by phone at (812) 866-7110 or online at www.hanover.edu/ARTS. A table - which seats eight people - may be reserved if purchasing all eight tickets at one time, Hildebrand said. Otherwise, seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Mardi Gras Winter Gala will take place in Struck Gymnasium in Hanover College's Horner Center. Events begin at 6 p.m. with a cash-only bar. Dinner begins at 7 p.m., with entertainment beginning at 7:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to dress in the Mardi Gras theme for the evening.

Events are sponsored by the college, River Valley Financial Bank, Arts Midwest Touring Fund, the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.