Lafayette Travels to Michigan for ‘Cray Day’

Even though Vicksburg, MI and Lafayette, LA are separated by more than 1,000 miles, they both have one thing in common. Crawfish. On July 19 the Michigan Department of Natural Resources released an advisory confirming the presence of the invasive red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), also known as the Louisiana crayfish, in Sunset Lake in Vicksburg and a retention pond in Novi.

When the advisory hit social media people in the south took notice. Comments ranging from, “Build some traps and capitalize,” Alex Lawrence to “Hold on I’m coming to eat me some awesome crawfish,” Donna Stewart. While a lot of the comments from people in the south were jokingly aimed at capitalizing on the new found food source, we realized when it comes to invasive species it was no laughing matter.

That got us thinking over here at Lafayette Travel. How could we help our neighbors to the north with their invasive species problem, but have a little fun at the same time? Pretty simple really. Throw a pop-up festival that aims to educate Michiganders about the crustacean that proves to be a pest in the north and a cash crop in the south. So that’s what we did!

On Saturday, August 19 from 12 – 7 p.m. Lafayette Travel is heading up to Michigan to host the inaugural Cray Day. The festival is filled with fun activities for the whole family as well we a panel discussion, cooking demo, movie screening, live music and much more. See below for a complete list of activities.

12 – 1 p.m.   Story Time: Clovis Crawfish

Clovis CrawfishClovis CrawfishClovis Crawfish

Parents and children are invited to bring their lawn chairs or blankets to gather around for story time. We’ll be reading selections from Mary Alice Fontenot’s Clovis Crawfish book series. The series features a total of 18 books with a crawfish named Clovis at the center of the stories as well as other animals from the Louisiana bayou. The books are written in English and sprinkled with Cajun words, with an explanation of their pronunciation and meaning so everyone can learn some Cajun French.

1 – 3 p.m.   Activities for the Family
                    Live Music by Sel de Terre

Sel de Terre

Attendees will have the opportunity to have their face painted with a crawfish or triangle or t-fere as well as create some art of their own with a coloring and activity sheet in the coloring corner. There will also be a short scavenger hunt where parents and children can learn about the crawfish as well as the industry we have here in Lafayette, Louisiana. The kids won’t be the only ones playing games as we’ll have some adult games of washers, corn hole and more! Enjoy the blending of Cajun and Creole music with a live performance by Sel de Terre throughout the activities. This group is the sound of twin fiddles, rhythm guitar & tee-fer (Cajun triangle), upright bass and an accordion.

3 – 4 p.m.   Panel Discussion: Crawfish Friend or Foe

Purged Crawfish

Attendees will have the opportunity to speak with Sean Suire, local crawfisherman and chef at The Cajun Table about growing up in the crawfishing industry and stories from his childhood. Accompanying him will be Nick Popoff, DNR’s Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affairs Manager to talk the ongoing problem of southern crawfish invading Michigan’s lakes.

4 – 5 p.m.   Cooking Demo: Crawfish Etouffee

Crawfish Etouffee

The Cajun TableLearn how to make a Lafayette staple from a local! Sean Suire, chef at The Cajun Table, will demonstrate his recipe for crawfish etouffee that can be replicated very easily in any kitchen. Best part, if you’re not a fan of crawfish you can sub the meat out for just about anything. The word etouffee means to smother and is a method of cooking as opposed to a dish. Attendees will also have the chance to sample this Cajun delight while it last.

5 – 7 p.m.    Movie Screening: King Crawfish

King Crawfish

The evening will cap off with a movie screening starting with a short promo video that shows the farm to table process involved in crawfishing. Following the promo video will be the full length documentary King Crawfish by Louisiana filmmaker Conni Castille. The film explores the Cajun spirit being poured out on a communal table, even as the wild harvest is diminishing. At the 50-year old Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival we see everything Cajuns value take to the stage: their language, music, food, dance, and crawfish. Thousands and thousands of pounds of crawfish get served up at the festival, most coming from their natural habitat, the Atchafalaya Basin. But in one small fishing community in the Basin, crawfishermen fight to retain their way of life. It is an old story. In the end, the people and land suffer from the oil and gas production. If the crawfishermen fail to preserve their right to fish and to bring back the free flowing water that the Basin’s wildlife needs to survive, we could be witnessing the last generation of wild harvest crawfishermen, and the loss of the largest swamp in the United States.