The Festival

Saturday, June 9, 2018 – Gates open at 4:00 p.m.

Catch the spirit and energy of ‘The Quarter’ in downtown Rock Island for Gumbo Ya Ya. Cajun, Zydeco, and Jazz bands will tantalize your ears, while Cajun spiced food will heat up your taste buds. Bead tosses, confetti, feather masks, feather boas, and showgirls will complete the Mardi Gras theme.



Music Lineup


Backwater Bayou Band – 4:30p.m.

Cedric Burnside – 6:30p.m.

Zydeco Voodoo – 7:45p.m.

Jack Brass Band – 10:15p.m.



One Day Pass – $9
Tickets can be purchased in advance through the Downtown Rock Island Partnership at 309-788-6311, or admission fee can be paid at the gate.


Please no pets. No coolers allowed inside of premises.


Personal lawn chairs and seating is allowed.


More Information

Gumbo Ya Ya History

Gumbo Ya Ya was born in 1993 as The District’s second signature festival (The first was Ya Maka My Weekend which started in 1992). Since that time the event has changed, yet stayed the same. You’ll still find the same great New Orleans style music and Cajun food with a different twist each year. Gumbo Ya Ya is a trip down south to a Mardi Gras party without ever leaving the Midwest!


One of the most unique things about the festival is that it’s set in the middle of downtown, allowing for a free-flow of people from festival to entertainment establishment to art gallery to restaurant and back to the fest. It also means that if the weather is inclement, you can head inside for a break, and never leave the fest grounds.


Our goal is to keep our guests coming back year after year! So join us for a Mardi Gras party like no other right here in downtown Rock Island, Illinois.

Food & Culture

Cajun & Creole Food
If the taste of New Orleans cuisine is what you’re looking for, you’ll find many options at Gumbo Ya Ya.  If you don’t like the Cajun flavors traditional festival foods, Thai food, Greek food, and more will also be available! There is something for everyone to enjoy!


French Quarter Marketplace
The merchants are inspired by the French Quarter Marketplace in New Orleans, a place where you can find almost anything. Official Gumbo Ya Ya t-shirts and other Mardi Gras accessories (Mardi Gras masks, specialty beads, etc.) are available for purchase. Merchants will sell clothing, accessories, and jewelry. Novelties will include psychics, airbrush tattoos, and flamboyant street performers.


Mardi Gras Beads
Over 20,000 strands of Mardi Gras beads will be thrown to the crowd throughout the weekend by various groups… including some local familiar faces! Do you know what the different colors of the beads represent? The most dominant color at Mardi Gras is purple, and it represents justice. Green stands for faith, and gold represents power. These three colors are intertwined in almost all Mardi Gras decorations. Be ready for some surprises too!

Artists, Musicians & Vendors

We are seeking a variety of vendors for Gumbo Ya Ya 2018. If you are an artist, musician or vendor and would like to be considered for the event, please contact Erik Reader, Executive Director, by phone at (309) 948-2008 or email at