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Crawfish Festivals: The History of the Parties

Leroy Thomas performs at a Crawfish Festival

Leroy Thomas- The Jewel of the Bayou, performs at a Crawfish Festival

Everyone loves a good party, but few states love to party as much as Louisiana. It seems they have a party or festival season for nearly everything. From Mardi Gras to the Jazzfest, Shrimp Festivals and Cajun Dress Festivals, and nearly anything in between, there seems to always be some kind of party in Louisiana! Currently, the most popular partying happening in Louisiana is the assorted crawfish festivals.

But, have you ever wondered how the Louisiana crawfish festivals got their start? After all, why would anyone look at the lowly mudbug and think, “Hey, let’s have a party to celebrate this creature?” Well, here is brief look at three of the state’s crawfish festivals.

The Louisiana to LA Society Second Line Dancers, crawfish festival

The Crawfish Festival in St. Bernard began in 1975 as a way to show homage to the area’s history. As St. Bernard is the site of the famed Battle of New Orleans, its history alone makes it the perfect place for a party. Every spring, people from everywhere come to enjoy the succulent sweetness of the LA crawfish served in dishes such as crawfish bread, crawfish jambalaya, and crawfish etouffee, which can be found at the festival. While at the festival, guests will have the opportunity to learn about the area’s history while enjoying the town’s bounty and beauty.

The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, held the first full week in May, is perhaps the largest and most well known in Louisiana. In fact, the area is known as the “Crawfish Capital of the World.” Since 1958, when the title was given to Breaux Bridge by Speaker of the House Bob Angelle, Breaux Bridge has been celebrating the crawfish through music, dancing, crafts, and of course, mouthwatering crawfish dishes. The title “Crawfish Capital of the World” was suggested as part of the city’s then centennial celebration. Unfortunately, the crawfish did not cooperate that year, and there was a very poor harvest that threatened the newly given title. Consequently, Angelle contacted the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to increase the commercial crawfish farming and to encourage the harvesting of crawfish, and to ultimately expand the crawfish industry. In 1960, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival was born and soon became one of the city’s largest tourism attractions. In fact, the city’s restaurants were the first around to offer crawfish on their menus, and it was here that the insanely delish crawfish etouffee was created.

Big Pile of Crawfish, at a Crawfish Festival

One thing you can find at Crawfish festivals: Lots of Crawfish!

The Mudbug Madness Festival is held during the last weekend of May in Shreveport, Louisiana began in 1984 when a group of citizens decided they were tired of being compared to Texas and told they were more Texans than Louisianans. The group choose to do this through honoring the crawfish boils – one thing their state is known for. The Shreveport citizens decided that they would make their festival the best and focused their crawfish celebrating around the taste of the crawfish boil. Today, the four-day festival entertains as many as 56,000 people a day and is recognized as one of the Southeast Tourism’s Top 20 Events.

Of course, no Louisiana food festival is complete without the dancing, the parades, the costumes and of course, the live Zydeco music! So, the next time you are looking for a great family event that combines fun, food, and learning, make plans to attend a Louisiana Crawfish Festival—You are sure to love it!

Photos by Clotee Pridgen Allochuku

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