BREAUX BRIDGE, La. (KLFY) — Millions of pounds of crawfish will be consumed in Louisiana this season, but one crustacean in particular will be spared a steamy, spicy fate.
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, along with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, granted an official pardon to Firmin the Crawfish during the 7th Annual Pardoning of the Crawfish event Tuesday. Parc Des Ponts Breaux along Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge was the site of this year’s event.
“Louisiana is the largest domestic producer of crawfish, producing about 150 million pounds every year,” Nungesser said. “It only seems fitting that we would pardon a crawfish in Breaux Bridge, the Crawfish Capital of the World. At least this little guy will be saved from ending up on someone’s plate during the Crawfish Festival in May or on restaurant tray or in a backyard boil.”
Started in 2017 by Nungesser and held on the first Tuesday following Mardi Gras, this annual pardoning celebrates crawfish season in Louisiana and across the Gulf South.
“It is important to honor the men and women who make a living in this industry but it is also important to let them know how important crawfish is to our whole state for tourism, for culture, for the economy,” Nungesser said. “Tourism was the fourth biggest (industry) in Louisiana before COVID. It slipped to five. We had a great Mardi Gras and a fair festival season. Like the crawfish fest, we will sure to be back to record breaking numbers this season.”
The lucky mudbug is named in honor of Firmin Breaux, who built the first foot bridge across Bayou Teche to help make crossing the bayou easier for family and neighbors.
“To do it here in Breaux Bridge makes it all much more special,” Nungesser said.
Firmin Breaux and his family arrived in the area in early 1765, becoming one of the largest property owners by 1786. He built the first foot bridge across Bayou Teche in 1799, a suspension bridge stabilized by huge pilings on either side and tied to large live oak trees. Directions for getting around would often tell people to “go to Breaux’s bridge.” This would become the name of the present-day city.
“As the center of the crawfish universe, we are very much aware of the importance of this small crustacean to Breaux Bridge and Louisiana, as well as to all who have the pleasure of feasting on them,” said Breaux Bridge Mayor Ricky Calais. “The community of Breaux Bridge – the Crawfish Capital of the World – is excited to host this year’s Pardoning of the Crawfish to give Firmin his much deserved freedom. Live long, Firmin!”
In keeping with tradition, Barry Toups, owner of Crawfish Haven and Mrs. Rose’s Bed & Breakfast in Kaplan, caught and selected the guest of honor for his reprieve. Firmin the Crawfish was then transported to Parc Des Ponts Breaux along the Bayou Teche where he was the king of his own procession to his regal habitat.
Nungesser bestowed the official pardon upon Firmin, delivering an official proclamation to the St. Martin Parish Tourism Commission and the City of Breaux Bridge to mark the event.
Following his pardoning, the Louisiana Office of State Parks transported Firmin to Lake Fausse Point State Park in St. Martinville, 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.