Renowned Carnival expert Arthur Hardy travels to Bay Mardi Gras Museum to interview a local legend
By Geoff Belcher
Aug 19, 2014, 20:38
Hardy’s niece Adrienne Battistella, takes a photo of Church and Hardy with Yancy Pogue, left; the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau’s Jane Byrne, Myrna Green and Debbie Stanford; and Bay St. Louis’ First Lady Barbara Fillingame and Mayor Les Fillingame.
The undisputed king of New Orleans Mardi Gras media on Saturday came to Bay St. Louis to interview the Bay's own king of Mardi Gras design.
Arthur Hardy, who has become internationally renowned as the go-to Carnival expert thanks to nearly 40 years of publishing his Mardi Gras Guide, met Saturday with designer Carter Church at the Bay St. Louis Mardi Gras Museum, which displays many of Church's wares.
Church and his designs will be featured in the 39th edition of Hardy's guide.
"I've known of Mr. Church since I've been in the business for 40 years," Hardy said Saturday, "He's such a well-known institution in New Orleans and Mobile, anywhere people celebrate Carnival, really."
Church is a 56-year veteran of the Mardi Gras costume design business and said, "I'll be doing this until the day I day, probably, until the put me in that coffin or urn or whatever."
His Carnival couture has achieved international fame, and is worn by the royalty of the Krewe of Nereids, as well as many Louisiana krewes, such as Iris, Sparta and Noblesse.
Hardy also praised the Bay Mardi Gras Museum, which is maintained by the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau inside the historic Bay St. Louis Depot.
"What a terrific use of this space," Hardy said. "I'm just amazed by what they've done with it."
"A lot of people think it's my museum," Church said, since it displays so many of his designs, "but it's really Myrna's," referring to Myrna Green, executive director of the tourism bureau. "It's her baby. "
Church and his "queen," Laura Billips, helped underwrite the displays, as well as loaning the collection.
"I want to help promote Bay St. Louis, which is the whole point of this," Church said.
Hardy is no stranger to Bay St. Louis.
"I used to spend summers here with two spinster aunts, back in the '50s," he said. "My wife still has family who live here, so we visit quite often."
However, this is the first time his Mardi Gras Guide will feature Bay St. Louis so prominently.
"It's a win-win for all," Hardy said.
"It's a great thing for everybody."