Listen closely and you can hear the seasonings being sifted, water boiling, Zydeco music flowing into the streets and revelers dancing as hundreds gather around community tables to enjoy a southern delicacy – crawfish. You can call them crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs or crustaceans – but we call ‘em delicious.
Want to partake? Join along in May in the revelry at the annual Pensacola Crawfish Festival. The weekend tradition has been taking place for decades in the heart of Downtown Pensacola.
Aiyee!!! Typical Cajun slang for “Yippee.” You don’t have to catch up on your Cajun slang to visit the festival, but you’ll hear phrases like “Pinch the tail and suck the head,” “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler,” and “pass a good time.”
Cordova Crawfish Company, a local vendor, is cooking up the mudbugs for the festival. Boiling up more than 16,000 pounds of crawfish – there is sure to be plenty for everyone. How do they boil crawfish? They do it in a two-step process of boiling and then soaking them – that’s where you’ll find the spice. Once the crawfish has taken a long seasoning bath, a special secret ingredient is added. Intrigued? Grab some crawfish along with sausage, corn and potatoes, and prop up at a community table.
New to crawfish? No problem! The festival organizers have cheat sheets on the tables with instructions on how to peel and eat crawfish. Many years ago, a true Louisiana gal taught me how to truly enjoy crawfish, and I’ve been hooked ever since. There are plenty of people around to show you, so don’t feel embarrassed to ask. It’s best to learn with a big group of new friends.
As a foodie at heart, I’ve never met a crawfish or Cajun dish I didn’t love. Those spices are crave-worthy. While crawfish is the star of the show, make sure to grab a taste of dishes such as red beans and rice, seafood gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, and boudin balls. What? You’ve never heard of a boudin ball? Not to worry. Even though a good chef will never give you a full explanation of the ingredients of boudin balls — trust me — you don’t want to miss this tasty delight.
If you think you are a Crawfish pro or want to watch one, make sure to catch the Crawfish eating competition. What is known as the CrawDADDY competition showcases how many crawfish one can eat correctly in a little more than a minute. It’s intense speed, precision, a whole lot of concentration, cheering and fun!
So you’ve brought your appetite, now what? Music!
The infectious Cajun beat pours out into the crowds, tempting even the timidest of individuals to get their feet-a-movin’. You’ll hear rhythm and blues, Cajun and Zydeco sounds. The prominent instruments used throughout the weekend aren’t those found in traditional bands – you’ll find plenty of accordions, fiddles, and rub boards – played with spoons.
Be sure to check out Cubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Voodoo Gumbo, and Zydefunk featuring Rockin Dopsie, Jr. These musicians bring the funk. The high energy, swamp funky zydeco sound is what you’ll find from Chubby Carrier.
Grab your friends and family and make plans for the annual Pensacola Crawfish Festival!