South Louisiana Crawfish Boil Festival grows bigger every year

Halen Doughty
Even with thousands of pounds of crawfish on hand, the event still managed to sell out of mudbugs

The fifth annual South Louisiana Crawfish Boil Festival was a huge success. The all-day event at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales drew thousands of attendees through the gates on Saturday. With various competitions and plenty of live music going on all day long, the family-friendly festival was definitely a hit.

The whole festival benefitted Dreams Come True of Louisiana. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to making dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses. Dreams Come True of Louisiana provides happiness, support, and encouragement to children and their families as they endure hardships inherent with the struggles of facing illness.

Event coordinator Rodney Dupuy said everyone in the community comes together to make this event possible. Even organizations like the Jambalaya Association and Bourcherie Festival, which also have their own events, help with the cook-offs at the festival. Dupuy said everyone wants to be involved because it's all for a great cause.

"The money's not going into anybody's pocket," said Dupuy. "This money's going to Louisiana kids with life-threatening illnesses."

Dupuy said while they don't have a final count yet for how many people came through the gates, he's certain this is the biggest turnout they've seen yet. He said the festival gets bigger and better every year.

"This year is probably one of the best we've had," said Dupuy. "Even with the rain, everybody showed up."

The food at the event was as delicious as it was popular. Dupuy said they sold out of crawfish, etouffee, jambalaya, and crackling before the gates closed. He said thousands and thousands of pounds of crawfish were boiled at the festival.

There was no shortage of things to do at the festival. Kids loved the inflatable jumpers, pony rides, and the petting zoo, while everyone was a fan of the live musicians who performed on two stages throughout the day.

Numerous competitions were held for people in every age range from kids to adults, as well as every possible skill from peeling crawfish to tossing washers and cooking crackling.

Teams had a few hours to find as many items on the list in the scavenger hunt. Team Huskeys took third place in the contest, with the Wild Bunch coming in second. The Duckroost Seafood team won first, and the winners donated $100 of their $250 prize back to Dreams Come True of Louisiana.

The 50/50 drawing was the largest the festival had ever seen with a $509 pot. Verlie Kidder won the drawing, and she donated a portion of her prize back to the charity.

The crawfish eating contest was tons of fun, as spectators filled the stands to watch as contestants went head to head in each round to see who could eat 15 mudbugs the fastest. In the final heat, Karla Cunningham took on Caleb Trabeau with Trabeau coming out on top to take home the trophy.

Contestants had a blast competing in the washer board contest. Each player threw metal washers at a slanted board while attempting to make the toss into one of three holes to earn points. Eli Coleman and Collin Parent won the tournament.

The kids' fishing rodeo was also a huge hit, as the children had plenty of time to fish before the bad weather rolled in. Jacqueline Gregoire took first in the younger kids' division, with Collin Roniger coming in second. In the older kids division, Hudson Todd tied with Jack Roniger for first, and Chase Zdrazil finished in second place.

Local legends competed in the crackling cook-off on Saturday. Ronnie Leblanc took third place. Dennis and Bonnie Snyder and Jerry Bourgeois came in second. Reigning champ Snook Trabeau came in first, already holding titles from this festival and the Bourcherie Festival cook-off.

In the jambalaya cook-off, Woody Woodward came in third place, while Hoss Reine took second. Tyler Burke was the first place winner in this competition. Selena Hymel was the winner of the mini-pot cook-off.

The crawfish boiling contest was the big draw of course. It was a nail-biter as judges tallied up the scores to unveil the winner. It was a close race with Michael Strong coming in third overall. Grant Melancon narrowly missed out on the grand prize, coming in second place. Paul Giangrosso was the big winner in the boiling contest.

The craft vendors set up inside the 4-H building welcomed shoppers to their booths. More than 100 vendors offered everything from framed photography to home decor to jewelry and much more. Dupuy said while vendors enjoy getting a chance to show off their merchandise, they also like being a part of this event that supports such a good cause.

"I think half of these craft vendors who were here have already signed up for next year to come back," said Dupuy. "They want to be here and be a part of it."

Hole in Da Wall supplied 40 sacks of crawfish for the boiling contest. The East Ascension Sportsman's League handled the kids' fishing rodeo. Dupuy sent out a special thank you to all of the volunteers and sponsors who helped make the fifth annual festival a huge success.

Mark your calendars, next year's South Louisiana Crawfish Boil Festival will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019.

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