THIBODAUX, La. – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, along with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, granted an official pardon to Lafitte the Crawfish during the Fifth Annual Pardoning of the Crawfish event. The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute on the campus of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux played host to this year’s event, which is uniquely Louisiana. Started in 2017 by Lt. Governor Nungesser and held on the first Tuesday following Mardi Gras, this annual pardoning celebrates crawfish season in Louisiana and across the Gulf South.
“Here in Louisiana, we are the largest domestic producer of crawfish producing about 150-million pounds a year. It’s a delicacy in our state and peak season runs now through Easter. So what better way to celebrate our culture and heritage than to grant Clyde his freedom before he ended up on a tray in a restaurant or a backyard boil,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “And in true Louisiana fashion, we had to have a party complete with music, food, family, friends. No matter where you go in Louisiana, you can find something that will Feed Your Soul, from our culture and arts to our cuisine and history.”
The lucky crustacean is named Lafitte in honor of Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant, Chef John Folse’s first restaurant in Louisiana. Opened in 1978 at Viala Plantation in Donaldsonville, a fire in October 1998 destroyed the restaurant. Lafitte’s Landing later reopened at Bittersweet Plantation, Chef Folse’s home for 20 years.
The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute on the campus of Nicholls State University is located in the center of Louisiana’s rich culture and culinary traditions and deep in a natural environment rich in the crops, seafood and wild game that inspired those dishes, allowing students to immerse themselves not only in cooking, but to learn about the cultural and ecological origins of the foods that they study.
“Nicholls State University loves crawfish. Our biology students study them in Dr. Chris Bonvillain’s Crawfish Lab, our culinary students learn how to prepare them here at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, and our entire campus comes together during our annual Crawfish Day celebration,” said Dr. Jay Clune, Nicholls President. “So, we welcome Lafitte the crawfish to our campus with open arms. I want to thank my friend, Lt. Gov. Nungesser, and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board for bringing this event to Nicholls.”
In keeping with tradition, Barry Toups, owner of Crawfish Haven in Kaplan, caught and selected the guest of honor for his reprieve. Lafitte the Crawfish was then transported to the Nicholls State University campus where he was the king of his own parade through the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute to his regal habitat. Lt. Governor Nungesser then bestowed the official pardon upon Lafitte, delivering an official proclamation to the University and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute to mark the event.
Following his pardoning, the Louisiana Office of State Parks transported Lafitte to Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego, Louisiana, 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.