Mardi Gras may be Tuesday, but the fun at Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks happens on Saturday, Feb. 21, with the 14th annual Mardi Gras Pub Crawl. The event features live entertainment at 22 restaurants and nightspots in the lake area.

Mardi Gras may be Tuesday, but the fun at Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks happens on Saturday, Feb. 21, with the 14th annual Mardi Gras Pub Crawl. The event features live entertainment at 22 restaurants and nightspots in the lake area.

A required $10 wrist band provides admission to all Pub Crawl locations, as well as shuttle bus transportation from participating hotels, motels and resorts to all of the venues. The economical price and the convenience of the shuttle service are two of the reasons the event continues to grow each year.

 The Mardi Gras Pub Crawl has grown from just eight locations in its first year to become the biggest off-season event at the lake, attracting more than 6,800 participants last year.  Organizer Jeff Carroll attributes the success to the number of venues, the quality of the food and entertainment and the availability of safe transportation.    

A total of 32 buses will cover the entire shuttle route, stopping at each venue, as well as returning participants to their Pub Crawl lodging locations from any stop along the route. Bus service will begin at 4 p.m. and end at 2:30 a.m.

"Your Pub Crawl wristband allows you to put your keys away and enjoy the fun without worrying about driving," Carroll said.

  Many "pub crawlers" dress in costumes, often featuring the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold and green.  Pub Crawl T-shirts will be available at all venues, both on the night of the crawl and for purchase before the crawl, beginning approximately mid-January.

  Most of the Pub Crawl restaurants and nightspots will feature live bands playing music from rock to blues to country.  At others, participants can dance to music spun by DJs or even make their own music at locations featuring karaoke.  When it comes to food, pub crawlers will have their choice of an eclectic mix of Mexican cuisine, Italian favorites, prime rib, seafood, Ozarks-style barbeque, Chicago-style pizza and much more. 

New for this year is a New Orleans-themed pre-party on Friday, Feb. 20. Each of the Pub Crawl locations will be offering their own specials on Friday night, while most of the lodging locations are offering special two-night packages for attendees. Bus transportation will not be available for the Friday night pre-party. 

"All of the venues are fun and each offers great food and entertainment," Carroll said.  "The pre-party allows attendees to visit the restaurants and nightspots the night before the Pub Crawl to identify their favorite locations or simply to be able to visit more venues."

 For more information about lodging, entertainment schedules and dining options, visit the festival's website at www.LakePubCrawl.com.  For up-to-the-minute news on the Lake of the Ozarks Mardi Gras Pub Crawl, "like" the event's Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LakePubCrawl.