Breaux Bridge native Sam Irwin’s book, Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean, tells you everything you need to know about how the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival got started. The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival takes place May 6-8. It all started with a scholar’s interest in local history…
The promotion of the crawfish began with a simple letter written by Lafayette Judge A. Wilmot Dalferes to Breaux Bridge resident Anna Belle Dupuis Hoffman in 1958.
Judge Dalferes liked to rummage through dusty old courthouse records and in the spring of 1958 he discovered that Breaux Bridge was due for a birthday, the centennial anniversary of the town’s incorporation. Breaux Bridge historian Grover Rees harrumphed that the town was actually founded much earlier when Firmin Breaux built a suspended footbridge over the Bayou Teche in 1799, but Dalferes wasn’t concerned about the founding. He had a document in hand that detailed the town’s incorporation. He wrote a letter to Anna Belle, a teacher “active in more things (school, civic and social) in Breaux Bridge than there are ways of preparing crayfish.” Anna Belle brought the news to her boss at the St. Martin Parish School Board, Assistant Superintendent Raymond Castille.
Castille said he brought the information to the Lion’s Club, but it seems like Anna Belle did all the heavy lifting. If anyone could convince the local Lions to spend months planning a celebration that would bring an estimated 30,000 to 70,000 visitors to their sleepy bayou town, that person was Anna Belle. Educated, vivacious, with an infectious, toothy smile, Anna Belle could, by sheer force of character, sell sand
Technically, the town’s incorporation was March 14 but that was smack in the middle of Lent. Catholics in Breaux Bridge penanced not only on Lenten Fridays, but also Wednesdays. They said the Rosary every night and many attended daily Mass. A centennial celebration
Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean is available at the better bait shops and bookstores and the online retailers. It may also be purchased through the author’s website at www.SamIrwin.net.