Spring means crawfish in Louisiana, which has a 90 percent share of the US crawfish industry. Crawfish, also called crayfish or mudbugs, were consumed by the Houma Indians long before Europeans came to the area. When Cajuns made it here during the late 1700s, they used crawfish instead of lobster in the recipes passed down from their Canadian ancestors.
Louisiana’s Crawfish Industry
Louisiana’s crawfish industry supports around 7,000 jobs, about 1,600 of which are direct farming jobs. Annual yield ranges from 120 million to 150 million pounds, worth over $300 million annually.
Over 111,000 acres of ponds make up the bulk of the industry, representing about 230,000 acres. Crawfish are often raised in rotation with rice. Rice fields are flooded for irrigation, creating crawfish habitat. Crawfish eat the fauna that is left behind post-harvest.
About 12 percent of the industry is wild crawfish, caught from Louisiana’s natural wetlands. Most of these crawfish come from the Atchafalaya Basin.
Crawfish are available almost year round, but the best time for fresh, live crawfish is February through May. Gatherings commonly known as “crawfish boils” often fuel spring weddings, backyard parties, family reunions, and even corporate outings. As a staple of Creole and Cajun food, crawfish is also prominently featured on restaurant menus in Louisiana and beyond.
There are over a dozen Louisiana crawfish festivals each year, between March and May. If you haven’t made it to one yet, you still have time.
Louisiana Crawfish Festivals
Please check with festival organizers for the status of each of these events before making plans to attend.
Annual Old Metairie Crawfish Festival & Cook-Off
April 18, 2-8 p.m.
105 Bonnabel Blvd.
The Old Metairie Crawfish Festival & Cook-off, put on each year by St. Catherine of Siena Parish, features 40 teams of competitive cooks, all you can eat crawfish, and games for the kids.
NOLA Crawfish Festival
April 27-29, Central City BBQ
1201 S. Rampart St.
NOLA Crawfish Festival plays off the Jazz and Heritage Festival that occurs at the same time and features some of the same musicians. This three-day, mid-week festival offers live jazz, funk, and blues, a crawfish-eating contest, lots of seating, and plenty of crawfish entrees. Tickets start at $45.
Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival
May 1-3, Breaux Bridge Fairgrounds
Since 1960, Breaux Bridge has hosted one of the most iconic crawfish festivals in the world, with an attendance of about 30,000. Over 30 bands play Cajun, zydeco, and swamp pop on three stages. Cajun card games, Cajun dancing, live crawfish racing, carnival rides, a parade, and a crawfish cook-off are all part of the fun. Try to peel and eat as many crawfish as possible in 45 minutes in the crawfish-eating contest and visit the arts and craft vendors for a crawfish-themed souvenir.
May 22-24, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Free- $5
Mudbug Madness features live Cajun, zydeco, jazz, and blues artists and draws crowds of 56,000 per day. Music headliners this year include Sister Hazel, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Wayne Toups, and Parish County Line. There are multiple crawfish-eating contests, including one that features only local celebrities. Did you know crawfish make sounds? Hear various interpretations of this sound at the crawfish-calling contest, and check out the arts and food vendors. Crawfish features prominently in the menus.