Forget Mardi Gras, May is the prime time of year for visiting Louisiana. The weather is heating up, snoball stands are open, farmers markets are in full swing, and crawfish are at their peak. With crawfish season, comes the mother of all crawfish festivals, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Held the first weekend every May, it's a three-day celebration of crawfish, cajun food, and culture. On our vist, we throughly enjoyed feasting on a variety of cajun cuisine, as well as taking in the spectacle set to the soundtrack of zydeco music and want to share why it's well worth planning a trip.
The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival is three parts county fair and one big part food festival. After all, within easy view of the crawfish eatin' tent is a big, brightly colored ferris wheel. People from all around crowd in to enjoy a bevy of different crawfish foods: Crawfish Étouffée, Crawfish Pies, Crawfish Poboys, Crawfish Dogs, Crawfish Jambalaya, Crawfish Macque Choux, Fried Crawfish Balls, Crawfish Nachos...the list goes on. Plus, there are other local favorites like boudin, cracklins, and not to mention daiquiris. If you're looking to sample Louisiana flavors, it's a great opportunity to sample a wide variety of foods. But, you might need to bring along a friend to help with the tasting.
When we visited the crawfish festival back in May of 2011, the area was in the midst of a mini heatwave. But the extra warmth was a welcome partner in the festivities. Eating spicy crawfish felt way more satisfying with a good sweat on my brow. It just felt right. The crawfish boil itself was a lively, social experience. Sitting around wide, communal tables, Kelly and I peeled and sucked our way through a pound of bright, red crawfish. People sat down to join us, paused to chat between bites, or simply inquired as to where the heck they could get some of their own. (I must have looked like I knew what I was doing, despite the fact that I was struggling to peel the shells to my own meal.) However, the talking was a welcome diversion. If we hadn't had some friendly conversation, the meal would have ended a lot more quickly and we wouldn't have taken the time to savor the flavor, the heat, and the atmosphere.
Even after we had finished off our share of crawfish, we were able to keep the heat at bay with several select beverages from the daiquiri stand, not to mention some truly excellent lemonade. When combined with quick, rhythmic pace of the zydeco band, it was hard not to get sucked into the fun of the festival. Topping off the music was an older couple, Pete and Helen Drago, who were a constant on the dance floor. Complete in their matching, crawfish print suit and dress, they danced tirelessly no matter what the song. While other couples would fade in and out of the dance area, these two kept up their relentless, perfectly tuned pace. It wouldn't have been as nearly as festive without them.
All in all, this was a great festival to visit since we were relative newbies to Louisiana food at the time. If you're itching to get a taste for yourself, it's well worth adding to your itinerary, especially if you're on a food centered journey. There are countless food festivals, restaurants, and snoball stands to explore and enjoy all around the state. So start researching! If you want to learn more about Louisiana food, so you will know the difference between jambalaya and étouffée, for the next time you're in bayou country, check out our article here.