A Crawfish Festival: Mudbug Mania and a Gorilla in Panties

Crawfish festival

The marching band and beauty queens were fairly predictable, but a big, hairy gorilla in red panties strolling up the street convinced me that this parade had some real potential! Welcome to the 30th Annual Woodbine, Georgia Crawfish Festival.

Gorilla in Speedo

Gorilla in Speedo 2

We love small-town festivals. They’re so much easier to attend than big city festivals; huge crowds and parking are never a problem, and everything is laid-back and easy going. And while you won’t see big-name entertainers or celebrities, what you will see is charm, and small town living at its best.

Crawdudes SL

Small groups of friends and family gathered to chat, and show off the latest edition to the family – sometimes a cute, new baby, and sometimes a furry puppy. While others caught up on the latest gossip over a steaming plate of “mudbugs,” a bowl of Étouffée, or red beans and rice.

Eating Crawfish 3

Eating Crawfish 2

Of course, in addition to the almost 4000 pounds of boiled crustaceans, there were heaps of tasty choices. We noticed a distinct dearth of green vegetables, but none of this slowed the feeding frenzy at the crawfish tent, and on this day there wasn’t a better place on the planet to blow a diet (Deep Fried Oreos? Really!).

Deep Fried Oreos

And The Ladies’ Club calorie-packed baked goods tent tempted one and all (me included – peanut butter cookies – Oh Yeah!).

Pink Pony

We saw grannies on a zip line, dog-sized horses, marshmallow guns, antique tractors, and a darling Disney-style shetland pony whose fairy-tale cuteness drew the kids like a magnet.


We’ve been to all sorts of festivals: strawberry, chili cookoffs, classic car shows, and in Palatka, Florida we even went to a tater festival. And we enjoyed them all. 


So, no matter what size your hometown is, get out and visit the small town festivals around you. Just make sure to have your veggies the night before.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!
James & Terri

P.S. For those who want to try this at home, this Food Network Recipe will help you boil up 40-45 lbs of crawfish. And to complete the package this Youtube video demonstrates how to eat a crawfish.

Crawfish festival 2

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

54 thoughts

  1. I would have been in heaven! I LOVE crawfish boils. And a parade and festival to celebrate it – oh yea, count me in! Did you ever find out what the gorilla had to do with any thing?

    1. Laura, you probably can’t tell from the photo but in addition to the nice, red panties, the gorilla is wearing a Shriner medallion. I’m not sure what’s up with the large spoon. He paid me back for my photo by giving Terri an unsolicited hug (maybe an early morning snort emboldened the primate). ~James

    1. That’s one of the good things about small town festivals – the crowds are manageable. And of course, this is the south, so everyone has their best manners on. ~James

  2. yay! the page loaded completely, so the comment will most likely reach you!

    when i read the title, i thought, ‘Breaux Bridge!’ and was then surprised (GEORGIA?) and highly entertained as i read the post. southerners have big hearts and an even-bigger sense of humor, which is (perhaps) why they need such foods as fried oreos to fuel them through their days and nights!

    1. Lisa, we lived in NOLA for a couple of years, but never made it to Breaux Bridge. I hear it’s a hoot. But in those days, we found lots to keep us busy in NOLA. Glad your internet is working. ~James

    1. Carol, I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to a crawfish boil, but there’s an incredible amount of – how shall I say this – crawfish debris left over after the delicious tail is eaten. Your question got me to thinking and I checked it out online. How many Crawfish does it take to produce 1 lb of crawfish tail meat? “Based on a yield of 15 percent meat, 6-7 pounds of live crawfish will provide 1 pound of peeled tails. You should plan on purchasing 3-4 pounds of live crawfish per person per meal.” So 45 lbs will feed a mere 10 people. ~James

      1. I’ll need 9 crawdad-eating friends then. :-O Could be a hard sell over here. Himself thought we were cannibals the first time he witnessed my family eating a pile of steamed crabs.

    1. Tess, crawfish meat tastes a lot like shrimp. But what makes it a crawfish boil are the spices tossed into the boiling water. It has lots of herbs and hot pepper; corn on the cob and new potatoes are thrown in the mix as well. Everything melds into this delicious, spicy, yes-I’ll-have-another-beer meal. You’d love it. ~James

  3. I am thinking that the Google search engines will be firing up around ‘gorilla in panties’. You two are the wizards of fabulous titles I must say. Another amazing festival. It seems deep fried oreos are an international sensation. A hot ticket item here at the Calgary Stampede. 🙂

    1. Thanks Sue. I’m glad you liked the title. Discriminating writers recognize class when they see it. But I hadn’t thought of the google search that it might produce. If I get some really interesting followers out of this post I’ll send them your way. 😉 ~James

    1. LuAnn, I’m sure you and Terry have attended lots of these local festivals, and recognize that they’re the perfect place to cast off the dietary bowlines. ~James

  4. How fun! This is my husband’s home town! I wish we could have made it this year. Love that étouffée!

    1. Meagan, what are the chances? Woodbine is a nice little town, and the riverwalk is particularly impressive. If you make it next year, keep an eye out for the portable zipline they set up on one of the side streets. That was a new one for me, and I’m not joking about the grannies. ~James

  5. Small town celebrations are the best. My favorite shot? the little girl sitting between her dad’s legs. Looks like the deep fried oreos were just a bit too much for her!!

    1. Martha, this family was lots of fun to watch. They were totally into the spirit of things. In addition to the cool hats, one of the group had on a T shirt that said “Crawpa” as opposed to “Crawdad” and the young boy’s T shirt said “Crawdude.” Pretty neat. I’m sure there must be lots of festivals cranking up in your neck of the woods as well. ~James

    1. Good, clean, tasty fun at its best. Everyone let their hair down and had a great time. But at the crawfish tent, you could tell that they really came to eat. ~James

  6. OK, where do I sign up? A festival with crawfish, deep-fried Oreos and a Gorilla wearing Victoria’s Secret?
    Do they come to New York too?
    Loved reading!!!

  7. Nice thong, guys. And do remember when thongs meant flip-flops?

    My brother and I went crawfishing as kids. The claws are tiny and can’t do much damage, but the crawfish move fast and are great at hiding under rocks. We’d bring them home and our mother would dutifully cook them up. Same with frog legs and catfish. Replenishing the larder was an important job of ours.

    Nothing beats a small-town festival for sheer fun. It seems there is one of some kind or the other almost every weekend here. –Curt

    1. I too went crawfishing as a kid Curt, but our fishin’ was all recreational. In KY creeks, the crawfish were tiny and I can’t imagine a piece of meat bigger than a pencil eraser. We used a small cup, which we would place a few inches behind the crawfish, and wiggle a stick in the front, and the crawfish would back right into the cup. It was good, clean fun and a great excuse to get wet on a hot summer afternoon. ~ James

      1. Ours may have been finger size. 🙂 Clever on the cup trick, James, since they shoot backwards at lightning fast speed as I recall. They have a large crawdad festival down in the Delta area of the Sacramento area annually. –Curt

  8. Love those small-town festivals also. I hadn’t thought about not including veggies, but with deep-fried oreos, it’s hard to compete. That’s one advantage of being a Californian, we always have guacamole around. In fact one of our small-town festivals IS the Guacamole Fest. Cheers!

    1. A guacamole fest sounds tasty Susan. There are lots of recipes for guac. Do they have a contest for best guac as part of the festival? When is the festival, and is it held when avocados are in season? ~James

      1. Of course there is a contest! I believe it is open to any ‘chef’ – though many times it’s the local restaurants touting their recipe (okay by me, since this is a salsa & guacamole loving place and the ingredients are tasty.) Next time you come to the west coast, look up Avocado and Margarita Festival (I was only guessing on the name in my first comment.) Usually in September, but around here, we have ripe avocados just about year-round. Cheers!

    1. This really was a hoot Pam. The festival season starts early in FL, and we attended lots of fun fests when we lived there. When we lived in St. Augustine, one of our super favorites was the Gamble Rogers Folk Fest. If you enjoy folk music, this festival is wonderful. Do you have favorites in your area. ~James

  9. It looks like everyone was having a great time! I agree about small town festivals, which is also what I like about the festivals in Mexico – the events belong to the people there, who do their own thing for their own traditions.
    Personally, I would skip the oreos and go for the BBQ! The cook looks mighty happy!

    1. I didn’t try the BBQ Marilyn, but this guy had the classic setup and from all appearances knew what he was doing. But in the south, folks will not tolerate bad BBQ so you can feel pretty confident that any cook or BBQ joint that survives is good. We were in Morelia, Michoacan for Mardi Gras and we saw some the Mexican traditions, which were totally unique. ~James

  10. I’ve never had a deep-fried Oreo, but I did have a crawfish or two on our visit to NOLA. I probably needed crawfish-eating lessons, because I worked pretty hard and got pretty messy with a relatively small reward for my efforts. Our state fair features deep fried Milky Way candy bars and deep fried Twinkies. I passed on those. They sound custom-made to make children vomit once they hit the rides.

    I love the images from the Crawfish Festival. Washington’s small towns have their festivals, too, like the Parade of Species, where locals dress up like creatures and parade through the center of town. However, I think our local festivals seem tame compared to their Southern counterparts. – Mike

    1. I love the concept of the Parade of Species Mike. There’s lots of opportunities for creativity. One of the things that’s fun about small-town festivals – particularly in the south – is that normally reserved, conservative folks let their hair down and have some fun. For instance, I wasn’t joking about the grannies on a zip line. They had set up a portable zip line (hadn’t seen one of these before) on a side street and it was very popular. We saw a group three women, the earliest of which had to have been 70, strap on the harness and gleefully jump off the tower. It was great fun to watch. ~James

  11. Looks like a lot of fun. I don’t know if I’ve ever had crawfish. Is it tasty? I agree, small town festivals are much more fun than big city festivals. 🙂

    1. Cathy, the crawfish meat itself is a bit like shrimp, with a mild flavor. All the flavor is added by the spices in the boil. It all goes back to the Louisiana Cajuns and their love of spicy food. Also, they throw new potatoes, small corn on the cob, and sometimes even hotdogs – all of which absorb all the great flavors. The side dishes are just as good as the crawfish. ~James

  12. I love all the people shots – what a cool time this seems like – and I also like this encouragement “get out and visit the small town festivals around you. ” I agree

    1. Thanks Yvette. One fun thing about small town festivals is the people-watching. And as always, there were some real characters at this festival. Do you have a favorite festival close to you? ~James

      1. Hi James – I do not have a favorite that i can think of right now – but over the years we have had so many options of events around town and so I have taken advantage of them. Like first friday art walks – history demos – and greek festival. anyhow, the photo from this post that really had me laughing was the back shot of the thong – lmao – ha!

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