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Family Gras 

Feb. 13-15

5 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Festival Plaza, Veterans Memorial Boulevard at N. Hullen Street, Metairie, 731-7083; www.experiencejefferson.com

Far from the throngs and antics of Bourbon Street, Family Gras offers food, music, parade-watching and more. Now in its third year, the weekendlong event has grown into one of the biggest Jefferson Parish celebrations of the Carnival season. This year's blowout features local bands Better Than Ezra and Cowboy Mouth, national acts Gavin DeGraw (pictured) and Jesse McCartney and blasts from the past like Sheena Easton and Tony Orlando. Event grounds stretch from the music stages on Veterans Memorial Boulevard's neutral ground to the food and Carnival market on the river side of the street. New this year is an arts market with approximately 60 artists and crafters selling original masks and costuming pieces. Hat and costume maker Traci Thomson has an array of work designed specially for Family Gras crowds: "I'll have some matching costume pieces for mothers and daughters, as well as matching hat sets for fathers and sons." Free admission. — Bryan Davis

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