On March 12 at 3 p.m., standing before dignitaries and officials, Clyde the Crawfish will receive a pardon.
This year, the third annual Pardoning of the Crawfish makes its way to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, an honor previously held for New Orleans. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser will oversee this year’s pardoning and he said he is quite pleased with the move of this event to Lafayette.
“We’re going to have a good time,” Nungesser said. “It’s a great thing to do and I’m glad we were able to move it to the university to involve the students. It’s also a lot closer to where all those great crawfish are farmed.”
According to Barry Landry, director of communications at the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, this year’s lucky crawfish will hail from Kaplan. Once his farmer, Barry Toups, selects Clyde from his bunch, the tiny mudbug will be treated to the life of luxury as he makes his way to UL Lafayette for his official pardon.
With his arrival, greetings beyond those of the lieutenant governor will include: UL Lafayette President Joseph Savoie, Ed.D, the Crawfish Queen and Ben Berthelot with the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, all present at the event for the kicking off crawfish season.
Once pardoned, Landry said the state has plans for Clyde’s post-pardoning celebration at his new home in Palmetto Island State Park.
“He will be released by Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries officials to live out his days burrowing in the mud of his new home,” Landry said.
Louisiana, the largest domestic producer of crawfish, begins its peak season in the weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter. According to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries,110 million pounds of crawfish see harvest each year. Eighty percent of those crawfish see consumption right here in the state.
“The last three years we named it Emile in honor of Emile A. Zatarain Sr.,” Nungesser said. “He came up with the crawfish boil 100 years ago.”
Beyond the honor of hosting Clyde’s pardon, the event ties itself to UL Lafayette in another unique way: Clyde’s name.
“This year’s lucky crustacean will be named Clyde in honor of Dr. Clyde Rougeou who served as president of what was then the University of Southwestern Louisiana from 1966-1974,” Landry said.
Under the time of Rougeou, who is also honored with a building in his name on campus, UL Lafayette’s postgraduate classes flourished. During those years the university began its first doctoral programs while also adding graduate programs such as English, history, mathematics, education and computer science.
The event will take place at Cypress Lake, situated right in front of the Student Union. Nungesser also said culinary students from the area will be on hand with their expertise. The event will also serve as an official kickoff to the 2019 crawfish season, one which Nungesser said he hopes will flourish.
“Hopefully this little bit of warm weather will make them come out,” Nungesser said. “And then our farmers can get some good-sized crawfish on the market.”