It’s that time of year again. The weather is warming up, the trees are beginning to turn green and the smell of crawfish is in the air. In Southern Louisiana, the distinct scent of boiling crawfish is one of the sure signs that Spring is finally here. Crawfish are a long-standing tradition down here, and we show our love of these crustaceans with festivals throughout the state.
Louisiana isn’t the only state that celebrates the crawfish, however, and there are a number of festivals throughout the United States. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Mudbug Madness in Shreveport, LA – On Memorial Day Weekend, May 21-24, head on over to Shreveport for Mudbug Madness. Voted one of the 100 best events for 2015, Mudbug Madness celebrates all things Louisiana for their 31st year. They must be doing something right.
- Crawfest in New Orleans, LA – On April 18, Tulane University in New Orleans offers up more than 20,000 pounds of Crawfish, music, art, and fun at the Uptown campus for the annual Crawfest. Tickets are only $10 and free for Tulane students, which includes UNLIMITED Crawfish!
- Pensacola Crawfish Festival in Pensacola, FL – Come out and “laissezlesbon temps rouler” from May 4-6 on the beautiful waterfront of downtown Pensacola. With more than 16,000 pounds of live, boiled Crawfish, great music, art, and plenty to do for the kids, the Pensacola Crawfish Festival is great for the whole family!
- Texas Crawfish & Music Festival in Spring, TX – Over two weekends in Old Town Spring, Texas, – April 24-25 & May 1-3 – you can enjoy Country & Zydeco music on two stages, plenty of Crawfish and fun for the whole family. There is even $2 admission Zydeco Fridays. The Texas Crawfish & Music Festival is one not to miss!
- The Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival in Austin, TX – On April 25, 2015 the city of Austin celebrates all things Louisiana with 10 bands, featuring Cajun and Zydeco music, and more than 7,000 pounds of Crawfish. Stay for the day and see what the Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival has to offer!
- Crawfish Music Festival in Biloxi, MS – The Crawfish Music Festival is the most fun you will have…twice! On April 16-19 and then again the following weekend, April 23-26, more than 10,000 people show up to the Crawfish Music Festival in Biloxi for great fun, great music, rides, artists, and of course, Crawfish!
- Gator by the Bay Festival in San Diego, CA – For four days, from May 7 – 10, 2015, the San Diego Bay area pulls out all the stops with Zydeco, Blues, dancing and more than 10,000 pounds of Crawfish! Put on in part by the Louisiana Office of Tourism, the Gator by the Bay festival is the “most Fun You’ll Find This Side of the Bayou”.
- Gumbo Ya Ya in Rock Island, IL – Catch the spirit of the French Quarter as they celebrate in downtown Rock Island, Il in the District! Cajun foods, Cajun music, and of course a lot of Crawfish make Mardi Gras in the District a great time every year! This year’s Gumbo Ya Ya takes place June 12 & 13.
Have any other crawfish festivals you think we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know!
The holidays are just around the corner and if you are looking for something to make this year’s dinner really stand out look no further than our great selection of Turduckens.
What is a turducken, you ask?
Well, it’s not actually magic, but it sure feels like it when you take that first bite. This is because, as the name implies, the Turducken is much more than your traditional holiday bird. It is a combination of delicious deboned chicken, which is stuffed inside a duck, which is then stuffed inside a turkey. The result is a culinary masterpiece unlike any you have tasted before.
One of the biggest questions we get is how to cook turduckens to get the best results. For this reason, we have created the following instructional video with steps on how to cook turducken.
- Thawing the Turducken – To thaw your turducken, remove it from the box and thaw inside your refrigerator for 48 – 72 hours. It is important that the turducken is completely thawed before cooking.
- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven to 325 degrees farenheight and let it completely heat up before placing the bird(s) inside.
- Cooking the Turducken – Remove the turducken from the bag and place it in a roasting pan. Cover the turducken with aluminum foil and bake for 4 hours. Uncover the bird(s) and bake for an additional hour, or until the turducken’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Let the Turducken Sit – Before slicing, it is important to let it sit for 20 – 30 minutes. This allows all those delicious juices to be absorbed into the meats, and not allow them to run out while carving. The end result will be both juicier meat and an easier carving experience.
- Carve the Turducken – We recommend an electric knife, but a good carving knife works just as well. Cut off the wings and the drumsticks, and then slice the rest of the turducken into slices between ½” and ¾” thick, then slide once down the middle.
If you are ready to take your holiday dinner to the next level buy a turducken today. All turduckens ship the next day so you have plenty of time to have it ready for your holiday meal!
The International Rice Festival is celebrated once a year in the city of Crowley, Louisiana. It’s a celebration of the farmers and their crops. Rice is the perfect combination with crawfish, alternate seasons and it’s what crawfish eat for the first few months.
In 1927 the first Rice Carnival was held, and Sol Wright, a pioneer in the Rice Industry in Acadia Parish and his daughter, Edith, were chosen King and Queen. The following year, Mayor Gordon H. Brunson and Miss Margaret Francez were crowned King and Queen of the last Rice Carnival. The carnivals were held in conjunction with Armistice celebrations.
Since October 5, 1937, new events have been added to the Rice Festival including: the frog derby, children’s activities, Rice Bowl Football Game, Livestock Show and judging, the selection of a Farmer and Junior Farmer of the Year, the selection of an honoree of the Festival, plus many other events.
Today, October 18, 2013 one of our own, Ian Grant Frugé, won Jr. King 2nd runner-up. Congratulations, Ian.
TURDUCKEN gets its name from what is inside. It consists of a deboned Turkey, Duck and Chicken. The chicken is stuffed into the duck which is then stuffed into the turkey.
The cavities are then filled with your choice of dressing. Perfect for the big family meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Each Turducken has approximately 15 lbs. of food for serving.
The rain (which is good for crawfish) has finally stopped and Tropical Storm Karen is just a memory, so it’s back to finishing up with the addition. When finished, we will have an additional 2400 square feet. We are looking forward to the breathing room, it’s been a little tight lately.
When I moved here 30 years ago, Rick Phillips was among one of the first people that I met. They don’t come much nicer than him, and despite his success, he continues to still be down to earth. We at cajuncrawfish.com are excited for him, and look forward to seeing him go even further.
Rick Phillips of “Swamp Pawn”
Louisiana continues to be a hot spot for reality shows.
by Annie Ourso
From the blatant, bushy, bearded boys of Monroe to the notorious “choot ‘em” motto of the Pierre Part swamps, Louisiana reality television, both ludicrous and heartwarming, proves that life in the Bayou State is incomparable to the rest of the world.
“People are so interested in it because it’s a way of life that’s been forgotten,” says Chase Landry, a cast member from “Swamp People” of Pierre Part. “You know, you turn on the TV, and most reality shows you hear about are on the West Coast or East Coast. It’s not even reality; it’s something thrown together. This show is all about our history and what we do. There is still an older way of life that’s being lived to this day.”
History Channel’s “Swamp People” is considered a veteran in the world of reality television in Louisiana. The alligator hunters debuted their show in August 2010 and are now in their fourth season. The episodes follow the day-to-day life of Cajuns, especially Landry and his family, as they wrangle alligators, among other critters, in the vast Atchafalaya Swamp.
Combines harvest the upper one-third to one-half of the rice stalk, and then separate the grain from the stalk. The straw is blown back into the fields, while the grain is collected in a large hopper behind the combine.
When the rice harvest is complete, crawfish will again take center stage. Preparations will be made to begin re-flooding the rice fields so the crawfish burrowed beneath them will come out with their babies and begin feeding on the recently cut rice stubble.
By Patrick D. Bonin
It’s the third week of June here in south Louisiana, and the dog days of summer are already upon us. High temperatures hover in the mid-90s, with lows only dipping into the mid-70s.
It’s hot. Really hot!
And the crawfish crop is already feeling the adverse effects.
“The season is winding down to the end. We’re already picking up the traps in some of the fields that just aren’t producing anymore,” said Mark Frugé, co-owner of Frugé Aquafarms in Branch, La. “We’re trying to continue production as long as it’s profitable. I’d say we might have another couple of weeks to go.”
He estimated about 80 percent of the farm’s crawfish ponds are still in production, thanks in large part to the drenching rains we experienced in
April and May.
“The recent rain activity has helped out. It supplied the ponds with additional water that otherwise we’d have had to pump, and at this point in the season it’s just not profitable to maintain them by pumping,” Frugé said. “You won’t get your return back. So basically we just fish until there’s no more water, then we shut it down.”
Although still relatively plentiful, the crawfish being harvested now are smaller than they were earlier in the spring.
“The size has gone down simply because the food source (rice stubble) has almost been expended,” he said. “Crawfish production pr
etty much follows a bell curve, with March, April and May being the peak months. It tails off both ways from that peak, and that’s where we are right now.”
The good news for crawfish lovers is that it looks like we have a couple of good weeks remaining for this year’s harvest.
“Typically we try to make deliveries for the Fourth of July weekend,” he said. “This year we’re speculating about maybe going an extra week or so beyond that, but it’s really day by day at this point.”
Better news is that the process of stocking next year’s crawfish ponds was completed this week, so those mudbugs will be hunkering down beneath the rice fields next month to begin their months-long hibernation to escape the summer heat. But they’ll return next fall with their young, and the 2013-14 crawfish harvest will begin anew.
For crawfish lovers everywhere, that can’t come soon enough!
By Patrick D. Bonin
We learned earlier that crawfish shells harden up as the season ends because the crawfish are older and probably won’t molt again until next fall.
That thicker, harder shell helps them burrow down beneath the ponds more effectively to ride out the hot Louisiana summer and return next fall with the baby crawfish that will create the bulk of the 2014 harvest
You might also notice that the color of the crawfish seems to darken as the season progresses. According to LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Specialist Mark Shirley, you’re not seeing things: crawfish shells actually do sometimes darken during late spring and early summer.
“The darkening depends somewhat on water quality. If there’s a lot of tannin in the water from vegetation that’s giving off tannic acid, you do tend to get a darker shell because of the water chemistry,” Shirley said. “The more tannic acid present, typically like you might find in a swamp, the more vivid the colors will be.”
And speaking of swamps, the wild natural crop of Louisiana crawfish in the Atchafalaya Basin is usually more plentiful later in the summer than pond-raised crawfish. (The “basin,” as locals refer to it, is the nation’s largest freshwater swamp. It has an area of about 1.4 million acres and is located about 60 miles east of our farm in south central Louisiana.)
“With pond crawfish, the whole season is about one to two months earlier than the natural crop,” he said. “Ponds are typically flooded in October or November, whereas the basin is dependent on winter rain and snowmelt. So it’s typically not until more like January or February when water levels rise enough to flood the burrows there.
“The natural cycle of basin crawfish is more like March through July, compared to December through May or June for farm-raised crawfish,” Shirley said.
The key to a successful wild season in the basin is the amount of rain and snowmelt impacting the Mississippi River watershed.
“If there’s a lot of snowmelt up north, or if there’s a lot of rainfall during the spring, the Atchafalaya River will stay up at a high flood stage and flood a lot of the basin and provide lots of habitat for the crawfish compared to a drought year, when most of that swamp stays dry,” he said. “The higher the water, and the duration of the flood in the basin, determines the extent of the wild crop.”
This year’s wetter, cooler spring and the relatively high level of the Atchafalaya River has benefitted the basin crawfish, Shirley said.
“The basin started producing a good abundant supply towards the end of April, through the month of May, and it’s still continuing pretty strong right now. It’s probably one of the betters seasons that they’ve had in the last several years.”
At Frugé Aquafarms, we raise our crawfish in ponds here on the farm in Branch, La., but we’re plain ol’ mudbug fans at heart. So we’ll keep you posted on the status of our harvest as the season winds down later this month.
But we encourage you to support the crawfish farmers in the Atchafalaya Basin as they work to complete their wild harvest. Hey, boil ‘em as long as you can get ‘em!