KING'S BALL: Feb. 2, VFW Hall, 852 Memorial Drive, Ste. Genevieve, Mo. The 2008 event is being called a "Queen's Ball" in honor of Leap Year. Doors open at 7 p.m. The Grand March, an opening dance in which couples marching in twos form patterns on the dance floor, starts at 8 p.m. The ball ends at midnight.

TICKETS: Adults, $10; students and children, $5. Open to the public. To reserve tables of eight or 10, call the Ste. Genevieve Tourist Information Center at 573-883-7097; or organizers Mickey Koetting, 573-883-5850 or Ellie Douglass, 573-883-2099.

TIPS: Beer, wine, sodas and snacks sold at the bar, but guests may bring food and wine and dress their tables. French colonial attire is encouraged. Call Koetting (573-883-5850) for tips or costume rentals, or call or visit The Vintage Haberdashery, 3181 Morganford Road, St. Louis, 314-772-1927.

LODGING: Ste. Genevieve has a motel and variety of bed-and-breakfast inns, restaurants and wineries. Its unique architecture, winding streets and bucolic setting make it a great getaway. Details at

OTHER PRE-MARDI GRAS CELEBRATIONS: Two events take place Feb. 2 in nearby Cahokia, Ill. The Fete du Bon Vieux Temps, or Festival of the Good Old Days, is a free colonial Mardi Gras celebration with music, historic tours, activities and demonstrations at the Cahokia Courthouse, Jarrot Mansion, the Martin-Boismenue House and the Holy Family Log Church, 2-5 p.m. Also, La Danse de la Fete, or Dance of the Festival, is scheduled for 7-11 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Illinois Route 3 at Fifth Street; $10 admission, costumes encouraged. Details on either event at 618-332-1782.