All local krewe royalty was on hand in front of the clock on Main Street Tuesday for the kick off of the fifth annual Fasching Fifth Season Celebration. According to German tradition, Fasching begins in the 11th month, on the 11th day, at the 11th hour and 11th minute. Bruce Franklin/Press-Herald

The Fasching season has officially begun.

At 11:11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, the season of Karneval was ushered in with a commencement brunch at Orleans on Main.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who was instrumental in getting the Germantown Colony Museum under the auspices of the State of Louisiana, was the guest speaker. He spoke of Louisiana’s rich history, its French and Spanish roots and its German immigration.

“The reason ‘Louisiana ain’t Mississippi’ and it ‘ain’t’ any other state is that we have an interesting cultural mix that you don’t find anywhere else in America, that you don’t find anywhere else in the South,” he said, referencing a presentation he frequently delivers. “We’re unlike our sister states in the South. This combination of French, Spanish and Creole primarily came in through the Port of New Orleans and settled throughout Louisiana.”

He gave a short history of how Louisiana came to be, of how explorers and others settled the Creole state. Interestingly enough, he says, when the French aristocrats came to Louisiana, along with them came one German family, the Darensbourg’s.

“That German family came with the French settlers and established a German enclave in Louisiana very early on in the 1700s,” he said. “But it wasn’t until the 1800s that there was a real significant influx of Germans to Louisiana. These Germans came to the Port of New Orleans. That batch of Germans that came into Louisiana, they came into a French and Spanish settlement.”

The German influence in Louisiana, mainly in south Louisiana, were largely Catholic, he said.
“It wasn’t until a couple of decades later, that Count Leon made his way to Minden that you had the influence of Germany in north Louisiana,” he said.

The German term Fasching is derived from the Germanic word “vaschanc” or “vaschang,” Jerri de Pingre, Executive Director of the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce, said. It literally means “the last serving of alcoholic beverages before Lent.”

“Karneval is the word used for the Rhenish version of carnival in northwest Germany, except in Mainz,” she said, “while the word ‘fasching’ refers to the similar celebration in southern Germany and Austria, where Minden’s immigrants came from.”

Germany’s Fasching season begins at 11:11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month and ends at the stroke of midnight on Fat Tuesday – the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

German native Michael Fluhr read the proclamation of Fasching in his native tongue, followed by the English translation by Mayor Tommy Davis.

John Sanders, with many connections to Germany, gave a history of how Minden came to be. Liz Swaine, Downtown Development Director for the City of Shreveport, served as master of ceremonies.

The Minden Fasching Fifth Season Celebration will be Saturday, Nov. 21, in downtown Minden and will include German food, entertainment, arts, a German beer garden in The Courtyard and tours of the Germantown Colony Museum.

A fireworks spectacular will follow at 6 p.m. weather allowing.

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