LAFAYETTE, La. - Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board hosted the 4th Annual Pardoning of the Crawfish at Cypress Lake on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
This year's pardoning was held on its traditional day, the Tuesday following Mardi Gras.
Started in 2017 by Nungesser, this event celebrates crawfish season in Louisiana and across the Gulf South.
For 2020, the crawfish of honor is dubbed "Emile" in honor of J. Emile Verret, Louisiana Lieutenant Governor from 1944-1948 and a 1905 graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then called the Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute.
“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.
In keeping with tradition, Barry Toups of Kaplan, Louisiana, caught and selected the guest of honor for his reprieve. Emile the Crawfish was then transported by police escort onto the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus for the pardoning.
Lt. Governor Nungesser then bestowed the official pardon upon Emile, delivering an official proclamation to the University to mark the event.
A party with music, food, family, and friends was held after the pardoning. "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," Nungesser said.
UL Lafayette President Joseph Savoie was on hand for the celebration thanking the state for once again, using UL's Cypress Lake as the backdrop.
“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!”
Following his pardoning, Emile was transported to Palmetto Island State Park outside Abbeville where he was released to live out the rest of his days burrowing in the mud and making the state park his new home.