That's cray! Lafayette hosting educational crawfish fest in Michigan

The red swamp crayfish is considered invasive in Michigan because they disrupt the food chain for many aquatic species.

Leave it to Louisiana to bring a crawfish festival to Michigan.

The Lafayette Travel team came up with the idea after a July advisory about invasive red swamp crawfish in Michigan waterways sparked playful comments from Louisiana mudbug lovers.

Cray Day will pinch back at Michigan's problem with a fun, informative and delicious event.

RECIPE: Cajun Crawfish Cakes

"We weren't sure how they were going to take it, us coming in there with crawfish," said Ben Berthelot of Lafayette Travel. "We wanted not only to promote our area, our food and all of those things but also for it to be an educational opportunity for what they perceive to be a problem up there."

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Michigan officials initially responded with apprehension but ultimately agreed to host the festival because of the educational opportunity it presents, Berthelot said.

Highlights of the event will include:

  • Story time with Clovis Crawfish
  • Live music by Sel de Terre
  • A panel discussion led by crawfisherman and restaurateur Sean Suire
  • A crawfish etouffee cooking demonstration
  • A screening of Conni Castille's "King Crawfish" documentary
  • Themed face painting, art classes, scavenger hunt and games

Cray Day is happening Saturday in Vicksburg, Michigan, a rural area in the southwestern region of the state where the invasive crawfish have been found.

Berthelot said the event was going to feature a crawfish boil, but Michigan's restrictions on live crawfish prohibited it.

"I don't think we're going to leave there Saturday and all of a sudden they're going to start boiling crawfish," Berthelot said. "But I do think it's a way to show how we use crawfish. We hope to be part of the solution for their problems."

MORE: Frank's classic recipe for perfectly boiled crawfish

Crawfish experts from the Boot State are leaving Thursday for the Mitten State.

"We want to expose the rest of the world to our area, our food, our culture," Berthelot said. "And we want to expose our desire to help. We want to help them have a better understanding of the crawfish situation up there."

© 2017 WWL-TV


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