Turn up that zydeco and get your cajun on! There’s nothing like a Louisiana festival for food, fun, and fantastic movement — and this is one of the best: Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival in early May when mudbugs are runnin’ and Cajun thoughts turn to etouffee and fais dodo!
Might as well dress the part — fun this big deserves all you got — homemade or otherwise.
When you come to Breaux Bridge (about 45 minutes from Baton Rouge), you enter Parc Hardy, buy a ticket, and pass through the big crawfish gate to the vendor section.
You’re sure to find crawfish-themed stuff for sale: stained glass windows with crawfish turned chefs, visors and sundresses made of crawfish print fabric, and jewelry, t-shirts and the like — all with those signature red crawly things on ’em! Or my favorite — with a warning to heed!
Immediately after the vendor booths, you spill out into wide open spaces (except for the elbow-to-elbow dance fans) and hear that hard drivin’ Creole music played with an accordion, violin, bass guitar, sax, or washboard! (Right on his chest? Really?)
It’s so much fun some folks just choose to sit it out and watch, but the foot-tappin’ goes on and on nonetheless.
Kids get their faces painted with big ol’ crawfish.
And adults turn to more serious work: Crawfish eatin’!! Like crawfish pies (no file gumbo!) served hot and spicy.
Or crawfish etouffee from this Ragin’ Cajun fan (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) who couldn’t scoop ’em up and pass ’em along fast enough.
Even the usual festival fare like corn dogs and turkey legs became larger than life and spicier than most in Breaux Bridge.
I opted for a Cajun Pistol — “a spicy combo of crab, crawfish, shrimp and special cheeses stuffed into a bread roll” — and fried at that! Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.
My sister Marilyn and brother-in-law Collins from Denham Springs shared a wish-I-had-this-back-home treat: shrimp wrapped in bacon, dipped in batter, and fried on the spot. Festival heaven!
We tried crawfish rolls, crawfish balls, and crawfish boudin (spicy mixture of sausage, crawfish, and rice), but I’ll be darned if I can name a fave.
Some folks stood around a plastic table-like contraption that sat on top of a large garbage can. It’s serious crawfish eating: you peel ’em and eat ’em and toss ’em — heads, tail, and all — into the hole in the middle! (Not a bad invention, but we still use newspaper spread out on a table in our backyard!) I’ve heard tell that you can get these things at a home improvement store Down South, but you’ll have to check that out for yourself. However you dine at a crawfish boil, you can still say one thing: Laissez les bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)
We topped off our Creole goodness with some homemade fudge whipped up right there in a tent on a marble table some strong person brought in for the day.
And then we took some Bourbon Praline Pecans back home — well, some of ’em made it home.
The 2013 Crawfish Festival Queen stood up to greet us. She’s Anna Angeles, a senior at St. Thomas More Catholic High School. (Beautiful, right?)
But at 3:00, we pushed into a circle of folks crowded around a huge board bearing a pot full of crawdads — it was time for the Crawfish Races. All you had to do was register your critter, get a number painted onto his back, and toss him into the pot when your heat was called.
And then they were off! Crawfish wobbled, flipped, uprighted, wriggled, and ran until the first one to cross the outermost line was named winner of that heat. Who knew you could cheer on a crawfish as if it were the MVP in Tiger Stadium! But we did.
The Crawfish Festival is over for this year, but there are always more opportunities to party in Louisiana. You just have to keep on top of the calendar and get yourself in shape for more dancin’ and eatin’! I know one thing: I’d come back — and I might even suck dem heads!
Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Association
P. O. Box 25
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517
For more information on Louisiana Festivals, click here.