They call it gris-gris

Oregon’s Tualatin Crawfish Festival is occurring this weekend. It is the oldest crawfish festival in the United States. How can that be when everyone knows that Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long in 1959 proclaimed Breaux Bridge to be the Crawfish Capital of the World?

Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long and Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival founders in 1959. Long declared Breaux Bridge to be the "Crawfish Capital of the World."

Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long and Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival founders in 1959. Long declared Breaux Bridge to be the “Crawfish Capital of the World.”

In 1951, a new VFW hall was built on Seneca Street in Tualatin, Oregon. But that year, the American Signal Crawfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus)species was in serious overabundance in the Tualatin River. The Oregonians must have some joie de vivre so they decided to have a crawfish festival to celebrate the opening of the new VFW hall.

While that was going on, Louisiana was developing a crawfish industry. (Read Sam Irwin’s Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean for the entire story). Louisiana’s crawfish industry started small, only a few hundred thousand pounds per year in the 1950s. In 1977, when the Louisiana crawfish began to reign supreme and folks in the Bayou State learned that Oregon dared to question our crawfish supremacy, Acadian voodoo queen Mrs. Shelby Davis sent someĀ  gris-gris to the Beaver State to disrupt their festival. It must have worked that year because the Tualatin fest was shut down due to a riot.

Benevolently, Mrs. Davis realized the Oregon crawfish posed no threat to Louisiana’s mighty mighty Procambarus clarkii and Procambarus zonangulus and called off the voodoo dogs. Today, Louisiana’s industry produces more than 144 million pounds of crawfish.

For an account of the 2015 Tualatin Crawfish Festival, click here: READ THE STORY

Oregon Signal Crawfish

Oregon Signal Crawfish

Louisiana Red Swamp Crawfish

Louisiana Red Swamp Crawfish

Crazy for Crawfish

Crazy for Crawfish