BREAUX BRIDGE — Thousands of revelers from across the globe descended on Breaux Bridge this weekend for the annual Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. The three-day event features plenty of Cajun, zydeco and swamp pop bands, arts and crafts and plenty of Cajun fare.
By noon Saturday the folks gathered around the Festival Stage had been two-stepping for a couple hours but still managed to put their best foot forward for the zydeco dance competition.
As the band played, contestants danced around in front of the stage while spectators and judges looked on and admired their moves.
Plenty of the contestants carried towels in their back pockets. The reason was evident from the lyrics of a song booming from the speakers: “Two-step will make you sweat.”
In the end, the dancing duo of Teresa Iverson and Brian Maloid were crowned champions.
“I’ve been zydecoing for a long time,” said Maloid.
Iverson said she has been zydeco dancing for about 10 years and that she and Maloid often enter zydeco dance competitions together.
“We had stiff competition,” she said of the other contestants.
As soon as the contest was over everyone was invited to take to the dance floor.
One of the first out, Joe Potier, said he dances every weekend of the year — Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday — and somehow he still manages to get to work at 7:30 Monday morning.
Potier said he works with youths, teaching them the art of zydeco dancing. It’s something parents appreciate, he said; when the kids get home they just want to eat and go to sleep.
Across the festival grounds, workers prepared crawfish for the crawfish-eating contest and 20 contestants took their place at the table.
Each began with 5 pounds of crawfish and for each tray they finished they received another 5 pounds.
The rules are strict. What goes down must stay down, and the crawfish have to be completely eaten. There are tail-checkers in place to make sure every morsel is put down.
The 20 contestants put away two, 50-gallon drums of crawfish and started on a third. At the end of the 45-minute contest Aaron Cruz stood as the winner after eating 21 pounds and 12 ounces of crawfish.
Cruz has steadily improved over the years winning third place two years ago, second last year and now first. The trick, he said, is to maintain a steady pace.
“Eat too fast and you’ll fill up too fast,” he said.
Elsa Delanoue, of France, said she had never seen a food eating competition before so she and her two friends stopped to watch the fun.
The group is on their first week of a trip to New Orleans from Chicago and didn’t plan to attend the festival, but stumbled upon it after learning about it from the tourism office.
The crawfish festival concludes Sunday.