IMSA Forum & Expo 2019

Join us as we explore Mardi Gras World and end the evening at the Grand Oaks Mansion*

Wednesday, August 21st


The Early Days

The early days of what has grown into Kern Studios started with Roy Kern, a local artist-turned-sign-painter who worked his way through the Depression by painting names and signs on the bows of freighters and barges.

Roy and his son Blaine built their first Mardi Gras float together on the back on a mule-drawn wagon in 1932. Unable to pay his mother’s medical bills, Blaine offered to paint a mural in the hospital, which caught the eye of a surgeon who was also the captain of a Mardi Gras Krewe. This captain invited Blaine to design and build floats for his Krewe, and Kern Studios was officially founded in its current form in 1947. One float led to another, and before long Blaine became the city’s leading parade designer and builder, working with Rex, Zulu and other legendary krewes.

Mr. Mardi Gras

Blaine Kern traveled throughout Europe to apprentice under the world’s leading float and costume makers. During several trips to Italy, France, and Spain, Blaine became inspired by the extravagant concepts and animation that marked the European style of float building.

He brought these ideas to New Orleans and developed the monumental scale and lavish ornamentation of today’s spectacular Mardi Gras floats. Blaine Kern was instrumental in the formative years of some of New Orleans’ biggest parades and “Super Krewes” and is still known as “Mr. Mardi Gras.”


After many requests for private tours of Kern Studios from people wanting a sneak-peak of Mardi Gras, the Kerns decided to open up the working studio to the public. In 1984, Mardi Gras World was created as a tourist attraction to provide visitors a behind-the-scenes look of our work. Widely successful, the attraction draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.

End your evening at the Grand Oaks Mansion

The Grand Oaks Mansion wows the crowd with elegance and grandeur with this in-demand venue, suitable for  corporate receptions. The mansion gives the guests a vintage Louisiana experience, right in the heart of downtown New Orleans. The intimate, versatile mansion is also complete with two bars and shows off New Orleans’ most breathtaking event venue.

Network Event Entertainment "Brokedown Streetcar"

Brokedown Streetcar is a New Orleans band, playing the old New Orleans tunes that gave the city it's reputation as mecca for music lovers all over the world. Specializing in upbeat New Orleans R&B tunes from the 50's and 60's, with a bit of second line/jazz flare. Brokedown Streetcar can help bring the event to life with the power of live music. Consisting of local New Orleans musicians committed to making the event a success. Want to dance all night? They have you covered. Need to bring a piece of New Orleans culture to your event. This band brings years of experience to the table, and our musicians have performed all over the county for thousands of satisfied listeners. Come join us and experience New Orleans at it's best.