The succulent freshwater crustaceans made famous in New Orleans are coming to Park Square May 12.
Starting out at 5:30 a.m. this morning, members of the Rotary Club of FishHawk/Riverview headed to Louisiana to pick up a truckload of freshly harvested crawfish for the second annual .
According to Christopher Jones, vice president, the club pre-sold more than 1,000 tickets for this year's festival so it could make sure there are enough crawfish and fixings for ticket-holders.
Last year, during the inaugural festival, more than 450 residents consumed 1,200 pounds of crawfish. The club expects to serve up more than 3,000 pounds of the Louisiana delicacy this year.
Louisiana native and club member Michael Broussard, who once ran a Cajun catering business, is experienced at procuring and preparing fresh crawfish for crawfish boils.
"It's hard to find fresh crawfish around here, so we're getting our crawfish from a farm in Louisiana," he said. "We'll ice it down and drive it straight to the festival Friday night."
Early Saturday morning, Rotarians will begin boiling the crawfish in anticipation of the crowds that will arrive starting at 11 a.m. The festival runs until 5 p.m.
The crawfish will be boiled with Cajun seasonings and served with the traditional potatoes and corn to crawfish lovers.
To further get residents in the right mood, a Cajun band will entertain throughout the festival.
In addition, about 40 business vendors, sponsors and nonprofits will have booths set up throughout Park Square for residents to peruse.
Proceeds from this year's Crawfish Fest will go to the Brandon Area Ys, A Kid's Place, the Women's Resource Center, the Emergency Care Help Organization and the FishHawk Sports Complex.
Crawfish, also called crayfish, mudbugs and crawdads, resemble small lobsters, to which they are related.
Crawfish are eaten all over the world. Like other edible crustaceans, only a small portion of the body of a crawfish is edible. In most prepared dishes, such as soups, bisques and étouffées, only the tail portion is served.
Another favourite tradition by Louisianans is to suck the head of the crawfish, as seasoning and flavour can collect in the fat of the boiled interior.
Louisiana has more than 30 different species of crawfish, but only two species are commercially important to the industry; the red swamp crawfish and the white river crawfish.
More than 1,600 farmers produce crawfish in some 111,000 acres of ponds. In addition, more than 800 commercial fisherman harvest crawfish from natural wetlands, primarily the Atchafalaya Basin. The combined annual yield ranges from 75 million to 105 million pounds.
To eat crawfish, simply hold it on both sides of the tail joint, your thumbs on one side of the shell and your index fingers on the other. Then twist and snap.