Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, along with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, granted an official pardon to Lafitte the Crawfish during the fifth annual pardoning of the crawfish.
The event was held at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute on the campus of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. Started by Nungesser in 2017 and held on the first Tuesday following Mardi Gras, the pardoning celebrates crawfish season in Louisiana and across the Gulf South.
Crawfish, much like people, have not taken well to the cold weather blanketing the state.
“Here in Louisiana, we are the largest domestic producer of crawfish producing about 150-million pounds a year. It’s a delicacy in our state and peak season runs now through Easter," Nungesser said. "So what better way to celebrate our culture and heritage than to grant Clyde his freedom before he ended up on a tray in a restaurant or a backyard boil."
In true Louisiana fashion, the event was a party complete with music, food, family, friends, Nungesser said. "No matter where you go in Louisiana, you can find something that will Feed Your Soul, from our culture and arts to our cuisine and history.”
The lucky crustacean is named Lafitte in honor of Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant, Chef John Folse’s first restaurant in Louisiana. Opened in 1978 at Viala Plantation in Donaldsonville, a fire in October 1998 destroyed the restaurant. Lafitte’s Landing later reopened at Bittersweet Plantation, Chef Folse’s home for 20 years.
In keeping with tradition, Barry Toups, owner of Crawfish Haven in Kaplan, caught and selected the guest of honor for his reprieve. Lafitte the Crawfish was then transported to the Nicholls State University campus where he was the king of his own parade through the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute to his regal habitat. Lt. Governor Nungesser then bestowed the official pardon upon Lafitte, delivering an official proclamation to the University and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute to mark the event.
Following his pardoning, the Louisiana Office of State Parks transported Lafitte to Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego, where he will live out the rest of his days burrowing in the mud, swimming in the bayou, and making the state park his new home.