ST. BERNARD, La. Robert Casanova and his granddaughters have a big task on their hands. They are boiling thousands of pounds of mudbugs this weekend for the Louisiana Crawfish Festival through their St. Bernard restaurant, Casanova Seafood.
'We've been running crawfish all day,' said Casanova Friday afternoon.
The 39 year old festival is expected to draw more than 100,000 people from across the region.
'Is there anything more important than crawfish in Louisiana?' asked event chairman Cisco Gonzales.
But getting crawfish has been difficult this year because of unseasonably cold weather.
'Crawfish is probably almost double from last year,' said Gonzales. 'It's the worst year yet for our pricing.'
That's because crawfish can't grow in cold temperatures, meaning many mudbugs aren't big enough yet to be harvested. Low supply means higher prices, leading crawfish lovers to buy less.
'The average person makes a certain amount of money each week and that's all they have to spend,' said Casanova.
On a good year festival goers eat around 30,000 pounds of mudbugs, said Gonzales. This year organizers expect to sell much less.
'We'll probably make 30 to 40 percent less money on the boiled crawfish than what we usually make because the price is outrageous to me,' said Gonzales.
According to Gonzales, it's part of the reason that, for the first time ever, the festival is charging a $5 gate fee.
80 percent of the festival's proceeds go to charity, said Gonzales.
'We seen it coming down the pipe you know with the crawfish being so high,' said Gonzales.
Casanova said the price has dropped slightly this week now that the weather is warming up.
He adds there is still a chance this could be a banner year for mudbugs as the temperatures rise.
Boiled crawfish will cost you $6 a pound at the crawfish festival on top of the $5 gate fee. Military personnel get in for free, and admission is included if you opt to buy a $25 wristband for unlimited rides.
The event runs through Sunday.
Find out more at http://louisianacrawfishfestival.com/