Michigan Holds First ‘Cray Day’ Crawfish Festival to Thwart the Invasive Species
If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when life gives you crawfish, throw a crawfish festival. That’s precisely what’s happening this Saturday in Vicksburg, Michigan: After the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that Louisiana crayfish had been discovered living in the wild in its state, a group from down south decided to help host “Cray Day,” an event intended to raise awareness of the invasive species—and maybe a chance to remove a few of the unwanted critters from the ecosystem by making them into a tasty meal.
Also known as “red swamp crayfish,” these small crustaceans native to the Gulf Coast region are regularly enjoyed in southern cooking, but in their unnatural habitat of Michigan, these crawfish could potentially cause a lot of problems: They’re known to damage infrastructure such as dams, levees, irrigation systems and personal property and can disrupt the food chain, including hurting Michigan’s native crayfish species. “Eradicating red swamp crayfish is very difficult,” Nick Popoff, aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said on the government agency’s website. “They dig deep burrows near lakes and rivers and can spread quickly over land.”
Hearing about Michigan’s troubles, Louisiana-based Lafayette Travel came up with a tasty solution, offering to throw this inaugural (and if all goes well, possibly last) Cray Day. As a tourism bureau, Lafayette Travel figured the event could provide a kind of “scratch each other’s back” situation. “We weren't sure how they were going to take it, us coming in there with crawfish,” the group’s Ben Berthelot told Lafayette’s Daily Advertiser. “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.”
The event, which will be taking place this Saturday, August 19th from 12pm to 7pm at Vicksburg's Sunset Lake Park, features all sorts of family-friendly and informative activities including readings from the Clovis Crawfish series of children’s books, live music from a Michigan-based Cajun band and a screening of the movie King Crawfish. As expected, there will also be a cooking demo. And of course, Nick Popoff himself will be on hand for a panel discussion explaining why, hopefully, Michigan will never get to have this much fun ever again.