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Crawfish Festival

August 1, 2011

Highlights: Cajun and Zydeco music, crawfish, and other Louisiana-style foods

On the last weekend of July at Long Beach, crawfish (a.k.a. crayfish, crawdad, or mud bug) was the star.  The weekend was filled with steaming crawfish, other New Orleans inspired foods, and Cajun and Zydeco music.  For 18 years, the festival continues to feast and party Louisiana style.  Over 13,000 pounds of live, fresh crawfish are boiled per day some flown from Louisiana and others locally.  Last year, my plate was filled only with crawfish that came from Louisiana, but according to the cook, the changing weather brought a crawfish decline in Louisiana.

This was my second time attending the event and came better prepared bringing lemons, hot sauce, and a blanket to relax in the shade.   I arrived right when the festival began, avoiding the long food lines. By 2pm lines wrapped around the event for crawfish, but were empty towards late afternoon.  This festival was another successful year bringing a bit of New Orleans culture to Long Beach.

Long Beach Rainbow Lagoon

Live Louisiana & California crawfish

boiled in the largest crawfish kettle in the world

seasoned with Zatarain’s seafood boil

corn on the cob and potatoes
$25 for admission and feast (darker=Louisiana, lighter= California)

Succulent meat

beignets with a side of blackberry sauce

Cajun and Zydeco music

and dancing

Mardi Gras parade

More pictures are found on my facebook page.  If you missed this crawfish festival, check your local Ikea store , type in crayfish under the search box or check under the events page.  Ikea celebrates their annual all-you can eat crayfish party for $9.99 held throughout August in different parts of the U.S.

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117 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2011 5:31 am

    nice

  2. August 16, 2011 10:24 am

    That is unbelieveable! The amount of food, especially crawfish is amazing. Everything looks delicious and very tasty. Great capture with the photos too =) KD.

    • August 19, 2011 8:40 am

      The seafood was fresh and the other Louisiana-inspired foods were also awesome! Thanks!

  3. realanonymousgirl2011 permalink
    August 15, 2011 1:00 pm

    OMG that looks awesome. I have to go next year!

    • August 16, 2011 7:21 am

      Definatley worth it! Buy your tickets online, it’s a lot cheaper

  4. August 10, 2011 11:54 am

    Crawfish crawfish i want to eat Crawfish….

  5. August 5, 2011 1:10 pm

    wow over 100 comments! I remember when you first made the site.

    • August 5, 2011 9:03 pm

      I know it’s awesome!

      • August 6, 2011 2:32 pm

        There’s craw fish back at the creek in my old school, K.I. Jones.

    • August 8, 2011 4:45 pm

      That’s cool!

  6. August 4, 2011 8:11 pm

    I was licking my lips seeing the crays cooking! Gr4eat snaps!

  7. August 3, 2011 7:02 pm

    Very tasty post! Thanks and I can’t wait to grub down:)

  8. August 3, 2011 8:08 am

    Ooo I had no idea crawfish were so cute!

  9. August 3, 2011 7:59 am

    Gosh, what huge pots! I have to say it all looks good enough to eat and quite festive too.

    • August 3, 2011 1:31 pm

      I can’t believe those huge pots fill the public.

  10. August 3, 2011 7:21 am

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  11. August 3, 2011 7:10 am

    amazing

  12. August 3, 2011 7:06 am

    yummy…

  13. August 3, 2011 6:05 am

    No one else around here calls them crawdads or crayfish or mud bugs. They’re crawfish. Period.

    And what’s with the blueberry sauce with the beignets????

    • August 3, 2011 10:02 am

      It’s used interchangeably in different parts of the world. If someone from Sweden was reading this they would probably tell me it is crayfish. The end result is that it’s delicious. I also just recently heard they are called yabbies?

      The beignets here were only served with powdered sugar, but since I bought so much, they gave me a side of blackberry jam which was optional.

  14. August 3, 2011 5:08 am

    Cooking crawfish alive?
    Ha, luckily I am not vegetarian. 😉

    • August 3, 2011 9:40 am

      I know poor little creatures. But they are yummy.

  15. Anonymous permalink
    August 3, 2011 4:45 am

    looks great!

  16. August 3, 2011 3:10 am

    Wow!! It is fantastic!! The Crawfish is so cute when it on the corn!!

  17. August 3, 2011 2:01 am

    haven’t tasted crawfish before…hhmmm i wonder what it tastes like. does it taste like crab too? 🙂

    • August 3, 2011 7:41 am

      For me, it looks like an mini lobster, but tastes sweeter and texture like a shrimp. Not as sweet as a crab.

  18. August 3, 2011 12:53 am

    slurp..slurp! can’t even wait to eat the clams I just bought…enjoyed your pics with taste

  19. August 3, 2011 12:52 am

    slurp..slurp! can’t even wait to just to eat the clams I bought for dinner..enjoyed your pictures with taste

  20. August 2, 2011 11:39 pm

    I absolutely love shellfish. Looks good. Great pics.

  21. August 2, 2011 10:02 pm

    Wow… Never had this in Thailand or Taiwan before…… This is absolutely amazing seeing soo many crawfish at the same time. I wonder how they taste like 🙂

    • August 3, 2011 7:36 am

      Do they have them in Thailand or Taiwan, I believe they thye can be found in China. I heard they can be found all over the world. Looks like mini lobsters, but tastes sweeter.

  22. August 2, 2011 8:24 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to a crawfish boil- they’re delicious, and this looks like a wonderful way to spend a summer day.

    • August 3, 2011 7:28 am

      It’s like a seafood picnic party with music and dancing. From doing my research a lot of them occur during the summer, but if you are towards the east coast, they occur late spring.

  23. August 2, 2011 7:02 pm

    Wow, that’s one big crawfish kettle. There’s nothing like an outdoor seafood festival. I see them all the time on Martha’s Vineyard. The dancing and music looked really fun. Great pics.

    • August 3, 2011 7:25 am

      They said the largest in the world, but I feel like Louisiana would have the largest. The music was a perfect balance for the event.

  24. August 2, 2011 6:30 pm

    Rosedown plantation – all right, I think that’s all of the places I know.

    • August 3, 2011 7:21 am

      Thanks, people suggested plantations, So that is a must see

  25. Anonymous permalink
    August 2, 2011 6:20 pm

    Please note that I’ve never visited any of these places recently and many of them may be closed.
    Also, if your insterested in the Civil war – there are some battle sights too.

  26. Anonymous permalink
    August 2, 2011 6:14 pm

    Suggestions for visiting Louisana – there are swamp tours – the Atchaflaya Basin is a huge swamp
    full of ancient cypress trees and crested blue herons – Then there are the many historic plantation
    homes. The extremely haunted murdal plantation – should be easy to google. There was an awful lot
    of pirate activity between the Sabine and Calcaschue rivers, as the land was once a lawless cesspit
    no one wanted – legond has it there is still a lot of pirate booty laying forgotton under all those black
    oak trees – A local personality is the pirate Jean Lafeet – He’s linked with the Contraband days festival in Lake Charles, where an impersonater ‘forces’ the mayer to walk the plank. Way up in North Louisana is an ancient native american earthwork near the town of Poverty Point – a gaint mound shaped like a bird. I’ve never been to New Oreleans but I here the french Quarter is only
    part worth seeing – those are just some misspelled ideas off the top of my head. OH! and there’s
    Jefferson Island and the salt domes! Where a mining accident caused the lake to swallow several
    buildings – you can still see chimneys sticking out of the water – I don’t quite know if Acadian Villiage is still open but you could tore an early cajun settelment and learn about the early days of
    the exile. Sorry about the spelling errors but I wanted to tell you as much as could. There’s more
    here then you would think, do some reaserch and you might find more.

    • August 3, 2011 7:19 am

      Wow thank you! It gives me ideas on what to look for. I want to mix the experience with not so common touristy stuff. The salt domes also sounds like a must see. THanks again!

  27. myfilthyroom permalink
    August 2, 2011 5:07 pm

    wow, those crawfish looks mouth-watering.

  28. August 2, 2011 4:40 pm

    I’m originally from Louisiana and am asked what I miss the most about it. My response is the *food.* I miss the Mudbug Madness in Shreveport where they often toss in the potatos and corn with the crawfish to boil and soak up the spices. I miss the family gathering together and each playing their roles in a crawfish boil: A couple of people go get about 25 pounds, a couple of others clean them, Daddy boiled them outside, and a few of us shelled some for Mama to bread and fry. Yuuummmmmmmmm. Thanks for the blog!

    • August 3, 2011 7:13 am

      Sounds like fun get-togethers. I can just picture piles of seafood on a long picnic table. If I had a great time in this event, I can imagine how amazing it would be in celebrating in the state.

  29. Anonymous permalink
    August 2, 2011 4:30 pm

    Fabulous pictures..Dinah looks like you had an awesome time there. Totally inspired me to go next year!

    • August 3, 2011 7:02 am

      Thank you! Buy your tickets online and go right when it opens or later in the afternoon (3pm) and tell me how it went.

  30. August 2, 2011 3:55 pm

    ahh the first picture was great but totally freaked me out a bit haha

    -grace

    http://herumbrella.com

    • August 3, 2011 6:54 am

      ahha I know. I just had to capture that picture. 🙂

  31. August 2, 2011 3:43 pm

    They look like little lobsters, but they sure don’t taste like little lobsters. I really liked the pictures, great eye!

    • August 2, 2011 9:44 pm

      They do look exactly like mini lobsters, maybe something happened where they were all lobsters were the same size and throughout the years, shrunk.

  32. August 2, 2011 3:02 pm

    I will add crawfish to my dish of Peruvian potatoes and corn on the cob. It should just taste delicious!

    • August 2, 2011 5:51 pm

      Sounds delicious! How do you prepare Peruvian potatoes, and take a picture.

      • August 3, 2011 3:05 pm

        next friday, i will publish a post about potatoes and other Andean produce.

    • August 4, 2011 7:38 pm

      sounds good

  33. August 2, 2011 2:16 pm

    Pictures are awesome. Yet another thing I’ll have to add to my to-do list.

    • August 2, 2011 5:50 pm

      Yes, it’s worth it, the food and the culture.

  34. August 2, 2011 2:07 pm

    Being wheelchair bound the last few years, not getting out much, Your photos remind me of some crayfish cookouts we have in Lambert’s Bay on the South African West coast. The Bugs (Crayfish) get up to almost 3 kilos each. Nice share,Thank you Andre Hartslief

    • August 2, 2011 5:44 pm

      It souns like an awesome get together. Thanks for your comment.

  35. August 2, 2011 1:46 pm

    I love the 1st pic – crawfish just hanging out. Thanks for sharing and great pics. Congrats on being FP!

  36. jamilaatkins112011 permalink
    August 2, 2011 1:09 pm

    cool

  37. sallyjeangenter permalink
    August 2, 2011 12:24 pm

    I had no idea Californians were fans of crawfish, New Orleans style. I lived there, too! On the other hand, no one could resist those beignets. Mmm, they look yummy. Great pictures.

    • August 2, 2011 4:57 pm

      The two longest lines were the crawfish and beignets. Many people around this area are Creoles or lived in Louisiana. Any suggestions for visiting Louisiana?

  38. August 2, 2011 12:08 pm

    I don’t think I would want to eat those…..maybe I will just eat the corn. lol

    • August 2, 2011 4:53 pm

      LOL. It does look eerie, looks better when cooked. The event served other foods for those who don’t eat seafood.

  39. August 2, 2011 11:18 am

    OK, this all looks awesome, but I just want to launch myself face-plant style into that pile of beignets. Droooooooooool. (I really need a keyboard guard.) Thanks for sharing! Nom on!!

    • August 2, 2011 12:12 pm

      Beignets are great… as long as someone else is making them. I do however find that they taste pretty much the same as funnel cake, zeppolis (sp) and sopapillas (sp). All variants on the same theme, deep fried dough.

      I’ve made them myself before – successfully – and what a mess. If you don’t have your own deep fryer and powerful range hood, be prepared for a lot of oil on your stove and flour on your counter.

      Or, you can just have someone else clean up.

      • August 2, 2011 12:28 pm

        They’re messy to make AND eat (especially if you’re so unfortunate as to accidentally laugh or breathe out too forcefully through your noise while eating them), but the biggest mess in the world could never discourage my love for beignets!

    • August 2, 2011 3:13 pm

      That’s hilarious! They are messy to eat, but it’s also fun and melt in your mouth goodness. I ordered 15 beignets for the three of us, had leftovers, but a homeless person asked for them. He had powdered sugar on his beard, and I know he enjoyed them. I also noticed how many cultures share similarities with fried dough, Americans have their donuts, Greeks have their loukoumades, etc. and all are so good. I would make them, but not in my house. lol

  40. August 2, 2011 11:05 am

    what a blast, great pictures. i went to my first festival last year and it was so much fun. what a great experience, thanks for sharing!

    • August 2, 2011 3:06 pm

      Last year was my first too, and I plan on going every year.

  41. August 2, 2011 10:15 am

    My only nit-pick is to point out that New Orleans does not represent the whole state of Louisiana, nor is it Cajun. New Orleanian culture and cuisine is Creole, and while Cajun and Creole cuisines do share many similarities, they do have differences. Furthermore, Cajun cuisine largely grew up and exists outside of New Orleans. It was not spawned nor developed in New Orleans.

    Comparing/relating anything Cajun with New Orleans is about like calling a Welshman an Englishman.

    Cajun music and even Zydeco are not truly part of New Orleanian culture. Jazz is New Orleanian culture. Creole is New Orleanian Culture. Cajun culture resides in and is from Acadiana, a far greater geographical portion of lower Louisiana which, while it partly surrounds New Orleans, was never, ever part of New Orleans – or, as it was called by early creole Louisianians, the Island of Orleans.

    Lastly, there is a bit of debate concerning what exactly is Creole culturally and ethnically. Most people now think of Creole as being black heritage only in New Orleans and/or in south Louisiana. To some degree this is partly the case due to several centuries of ethnic intermarriage (which is an awesome story for race relations), but the original definition of creole was one who was native-born. This term and definition was applied to the French who founded and colonized early Louisiana, specifically New Orleans.

    Cajuns are those who can trace their heritage to French who were forced out of Nova Scotia.

    Few if any Cajuns lived by choice in New Orleans, the New Orleanians looking down rather snobbishly at the poor, destitute Acadians looking for a new homeland. Rather, the Cajuns determined to have as little to do with New Orleans as possible, thus two similar yet different cultures rose up in south Louisiana from the same ethnic stock.

    Up until recent times, specifically Katrina, most Cajuns and Louisianians in general had any real interest or respect for anything concerning New Orleans, and the feelings were still a bit mutual.

    Stating that the festival celebrated Louisianian culture as a whole would probably be more fitting, not specifically or only “New Orleans Culture”.

    Then again, it’s never surprising that most non-Louisianians think that New Orleans is Louisiana and vice-versa, continuing the misconception and flawed cultural ignorance.

    Looked like good eating though… that’s quite a crawfish boil.

    You’re right about the poor harvest. Louisiana has suffered from a drought, and water is required in the farming of crawfish, normally done in rice fields (rotational farming).

    • August 2, 2011 10:22 am

      “Up until recent times, specifically Katrina, most Cajuns and Louisianians in general had any real interest or respect for anything concerning New Orleans, and the feelings were still a bit mutual.”

      Correction… should be “few if any had any real interest”. Those who did have an interest usually had business dealings or were looking for Mardi Gras and/or drinking… having a good time.

      • August 2, 2011 3:04 pm

        Thanks wadingacross for the clarification. I enjoy history and appreciate your comments. I definatley was trying to be careful at not narrowing the festival to only New Orleans culture which I stated, ‘it brought a bit of the New Orleans culture’ (food, Mardis Gras). I sure wished they played jazz music. I plan to visit the state, any recommendations?

      • August 2, 2011 8:54 pm

        Didn’t mean to be too snippy Dinah… my wife calls me her Cajun snob… and the derision went and still goes both ways between New Orleans and the rest of the state – interestingly I’ve also got historic, Creole ancestry too.

        As far as visiting the state, it all depends upon how you’re coming, when you’re coming, for how long and how far you can travel while there.

        As most people from out of state fly into New Orleans they tend to stay in that general area,

        I don’t know a lot about the region surrounding New Orleans, but to be sure, plenty of old plantation homes can be found and make for interesting visits. Some people like to visit the famous cemeteries, but I’ve heard from plenty of sources to only go with tour groups as they’re not safe places. A couple of hours west is the Atchafalaya Basin, a huge swamp. Tours can be found.

        Pretty much every major town in Louisiana seems to have a festival and be a “capital” for something. Conceivably, you could go to a festival every week throughout the state.

        If you’re willing to travel farther west, I recommend Jefferson Island and/or Avery Island. There are also one or two old “Cajun” villages near Lafayette which can be visited to see what life was like over a hundred plus years ago.

        Hurricane season is from June to November and the weather can often still be in the 70’s thru the first part of December.

        Visiting some Antebellum and Plantation homes, the swamp and a festival or two will give you a good flavor of Louisiana culture. Personally, I would not go during Mardi Gras, but then, I grew up there. That said, if you did decide to go during Mardi Gras season, I would recommend seeing a country Mardi Gras celebration more so than the more well known, New Olreans “style” Mardi Gras. The Cajun version of Mardi Gras is rural, quieter, homier, and with different costumes; and, a large portion still ride horseback. Mamou, way up in northern Acadiana has a pretty good Cajun country Mardi Gras.

    • August 3, 2011 5:11 am

      Growing up in Acadiana, I always understood that the difference between Creole and Cajun cooking was a city vs country thing. Cajun food is typically cooked in one pot (gumbo, jambalaya, boiled seafood) and Creole food is more involved and required multiple pots (bisques and the like). That difference came from the poorer Cajun families cooking for themselves and the more affluent Creoles having household help or eating in restaurants.

      And I agree that New Orleans doesn’t really fit in with the rest of our state. It is indeed a shame that so many people fly in, enjoy Bourbon Street, and fly out thinking that they just had a “Cajun experience.”

      For a taste of the rest of Louisiana, I suggest flying into Lafayette, renting a car, and enjoying Acadiana. The “Little Easy” has restaurants to rival the “Big Easy’s” finest (Jolie’s Bistro, anyone?) plus lots of true zydeco and cajun food (Mulatte’s in Breaux Bridge).

      And, well, wadingacross is absolutely correct in that you can attend an outdoor festival 52 weeks a year. See http://www.satchmo.com/nolavl/events.html for a decent list, although I know there are a few missing even from that list.

      Your pictures are beautiful, though. I can tell the Louisiana crawfish from the California crawfish because yours have such large claws! Do they taste similar? One of my kids simply loves the claw meat and to have that much would be great!

      I’m glad that people way across the country get to enjoy what we love so much about our homeland: the food, the music, the dancing, and the fun.

      • August 3, 2011 11:11 am

        Thanks Dana for the great suggestions, will be adding it on my list. My top to-do would be the food, history, and the music and will definatley plan my trip around one of the Louisiana events.

        It funny, I said the same thing to my family about the size of the crawfish in California, but now sad I avoided the claws. I didn’t think there was enough meat. I think the Louisiana crawfish were slightly sweeter and juicy.

      • August 3, 2011 9:15 pm

        If one goes to Lafayette, the good, standard suggestions for Cajun food in Lafayette are Randol’s and Prejean’s. I haven’t been to Prejean’s since I was young, so I can no longer attest to the quality, but Randol’s is still good and they have Cajun dancing and music.

        Something to try while in Louisiana is boudin. For those who don’t know, it’s basically dirty rice/rice dressing in a casing. Along with cracklings, this is viewed as snack food – though it can well be a meal. It’s also a food item of fierce debate. Many mom-n-pop convenience stores and old time grocers would make their own, and you’ll find many Louisianians preferring one store’s boudin over another.

        On the topic of sausage, I’ve never been satisfied with any standard store bought sausages that are found in the rest of the country. Yet, in Louisiana, you’ll find good, cured sausage. Richard’s is the best. Savoie’s often looks like “standard” national brands, but is far more flavorful…. however, as a tourist, you’re not likely to go and buy a link or box of sausage!!!

    • August 4, 2011 7:42 pm

      Awesome, I appreciate the detailed descriptions. I’ll try both, but I’m being drawn towards Randol’s for the music. You are making me crave all this. 🙂

    • August 4, 2011 7:48 pm

      As for the “Didn’t mean to be too snippy” you were being very professional, and backed up your reasonings. Thanks again for the comments.

  42. August 2, 2011 10:12 am

    kay, i’ve had crawfish and i didn’t like them one bit. i’m starting i might’ve had bad ones because you made them look super yummy!
    congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • August 2, 2011 10:19 am

      Were they Chinese crawfish? The Louisiana, national and international market is flooded with Chinese crawfish which are cheaper, smaller and have less flavor.

      That said, crawfish might be an acquired taste for some. It definitely has its own flavor.

      I happen to be an atypical Cajun in that I don’t really like seafood that much, and when eating boiled crawfish, I prefer if they’re already peeled – I hate getting my fingers messy with food (which is why I don’t eat ribs or buffalo wings). But, a crawfish etoufee… that’s good eats!

      • August 2, 2011 2:50 pm

        Wadingacross, I agree it does have a different flavor, and having it fresh made a difference. For some reason, eating certain foods with my hands (seafood or wings) intensifies the flavor.

    • August 2, 2011 2:45 pm

      Kay, I agree, the first time I had crawfish, I could care less if I never had it again. It might not have been fresh, or like wadingacross has said, it might be a different, inexpensive type, but try it again there are better ones.

  43. August 2, 2011 10:03 am

    Looks absolutely amazing … thanks for successfully making me HUNGRY!

    😉

    • August 2, 2011 2:43 pm

      Thanks Mikalee. It was such a fun event filled with great music and southern food.

  44. August 2, 2011 9:58 am

    that’s a whole lot of crawfish! looks like a fun event!

    • August 2, 2011 2:39 pm

      Thanks for you response. It was and continues to be a fun event.

  45. August 2, 2011 9:44 am

    Wow…. I want some crawfish. I wonder if theres anything like this in the SF Bay area.

    • August 2, 2011 2:33 pm

      Yes, there usually are crawfish festivals around SF, but all have past. I believe it’s near the end of the season. Also, check your local ikea store for the crayfish party, all you can eat $9.99. Tickets sell out fast.

  46. August 2, 2011 9:34 am

    The food looks amazing. I made prawn and pork balls on skewers for a BBQ the other night, I posted the pictures on my blog.

  47. August 2, 2011 9:08 am

    Now you are making me crave seafood!

  48. August 2, 2011 8:50 am

    $25 for admission and the feast?? Well worth it, I would say! 🙂

    • August 2, 2011 2:25 pm

      Yes, I am usually all for the free festivals, but it is worth it for the $25. It also includes great music.

  49. August 2, 2011 8:41 am

    Amazing pictures. The first picture is soooo cute….did you actually eat him?
    Great blog 🙂

    • August 2, 2011 2:21 pm

      Thank you! I did eat it, I just could not resist.

  50. August 2, 2011 8:24 am

    I’m a native New Orleanian. This blog made me homesick. Thank you for sharing.

    • August 2, 2011 2:16 pm

      Thanks. I can’t wait to check out New Orleans, any suggestions?

  51. August 2, 2011 3:44 am

    ive always wanted to go to the crawfish or lobster festivals, they look amazing!
    http://sandbetweentoes.wordpress.com/

    • August 2, 2011 8:28 am

      If you do have the chance, they are awesome! If you have an Ikea store nearby, they have all you can eat crayfish parties in August, and they usually sell out fast.

    • vickeylive permalink
      August 2, 2011 11:35 pm

      it looks so delicious , desire to eat this crowfish,also the environment is very beautiful ,so nice

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