Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Festival in a "World Capital"

Your hometown has just completed its Centennial Celebration in 1959, and in conjunction with this celebration, has been recognized by the Louisiana Legislature as the “Crawfish Capital of the World.” What do you do with this new-found status?
You would probably do what the good citizens of Breaux Bridge, LA, did. The following year they held the first major crawfish festival. This year marks the 52nd Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, which has become one of the largest gatherings of world-famous Cajun, zydeco and swamp pop musicians.
It was unusually cold on Friday evening, the opening night of the three-day Festival and the attendance was down (more on these points tomorrow), but all the components of the Festival were in fine form.
We were there early enough to take a walk around the grounds before the opening ceremonies and music began. Breaux Bridge is a community of fewer than 9,000 residents, but the Festival's offerings seemed quite capable of meeting the interests of a crowd twice that size on each of the three days.
On a walk along the midway, we found dozens of food vendors (above),
carnival rides,

and booths with contests.
After completing a quick walk through the craft booths, which featured items from painted glass works and
fudge making demonstrations, it was time for the evening's program to begin.
Many attendees positioned their chairs for front row seats for the evening. (The honor system called for empty chairs to be untouched.)
The Opening Ceremonies recognized the volunteers, the Festival royalty,
a couple who, over the years, have been recognized as the "most photographed couple,"
and graduates from the first "Crawfish College"--an instructional course in all things crawfish, from collecting, to cleaning, to preparing crawfish dishes.
Then came the Celebrity Crawfish Eating Contest in which local media personalities raced to be the first to eat about a pound of crawfish.
Now it was time for the music.

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