Emile the crawfish pardoned by La. lieutenant governor as season ramps up

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser holds annual pardoning of the crawfish to kick off season

LAFAYETTE, La. (WAFB) - Emile the crawfish has been granted an official pardon by Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

The 4th Annual Pardoning of the Crawfish was held Tuesday, March 3 at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette next to Cypress Lake.

The pardoning, which was started in 2017 by Nungesser, is held each year on the first Tuesday after Mardi Gras and celebrates crawfish season across the south.

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser is joined by Crawfish Festival queens and Miss UL to celebrate the crawfish season in Louisiana during the 4th Annual Pardoning of Crawfish in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser is joined by Crawfish Festival queens and Miss UL to celebrate the crawfish season in Louisiana during the 4th Annual Pardoning of Crawfish in Lafayette, Louisiana. (Source: Office of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser)

Emile is named in honor of J. Emile Verret, who was Louisiana’s lieutenant governor from 1944 to 1948. He graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then called the Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, in 1905. He was then elected to serve on the Iberia Parish School Board in 1912 and served as president from 1914 to 1943. Verret defeated Earl K. Long to become the state’s 41st lieutenant governor.

“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 Emile 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, and 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.”

RELATED:

In keeping with tradition, Emile was selected and caught by Barry Toups of Kaplan, then taken by police escort to the habitat next to Cypress Lake on ULL’s campus. Lt. Gov. Nungesser then delivered his official pardon.

Emile the Crawfish arrives at Palmetto Island State Park outside Abbeville, La., where Park Manager Marcelle Guidry releases him to live out the rest of his days.
Emile the Crawfish arrives at Palmetto Island State Park outside Abbeville, La., where Park Manager Marcelle Guidry releases him to live out the rest of his days. (Source: Office of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser)

“I want to thank Lt. Gov. Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board for bringing this pardoning ceremony to the University again this year,” said Dr. Joseph Savoie, University of Louisiana at Lafayette president. “UL Lafayette is always happy to celebrate and support the state’s aquaculture industry. Seafood is vital to Louisiana’s economy. It’s culinarily essential. It’s culturally significant. And above all else, it’s just so good to eat!”

After the pardoning ceremony, Emile was taken to Palmetto Island State Park out of Abbeville, where he was released to live out the rest of his days burrowing in the mud, making the state park his new home.

Emile the Crawfish arrives at Palmetto Island State Park outside Abbeville, La., where Park Manager Marcelle Guidry releases him to live out the rest of his days.
Emile the Crawfish arrives at Palmetto Island State Park outside Abbeville, La., where Park Manager Marcelle Guidry releases him to live out the rest of his days. (Source: Office of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser)

To get you in the mood for crawfish season, check out these recent recipes from Chef John Folse.

CRAWFISH RECIPES FROM CHEF JOHN FOLSE:

Click here to report a typo.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.