Atlanta’s largest crawfish festival brings Mardi Gras style to food and music

Mardi Gras officially ended on Tuesday, but a piece of New Orleans is coming to Atlanta to continue the party.

The New Orleans-based band Cowboy Mouth is headlining Park Tavern’s 14th annual Oyster Crawfish Festival on March 4.

“To think I get to do Mardi Gras on Tuesday (Feb. 28) and just kind of keep the vibe going until Saturday (March 4). I love my life,” said Fred LeBlanc, Cowboy Mouth’s frontman and drummer.

The festival will feature approximately 10,000 pounds of fresh Louisiana crawfish, and Park Tavern owner Paul Smith says this is the largest crawfish festival in Atlanta.

He says he is expecting roughly 3,000 people to attend, rain or shine. Plus, Park Tavern customers may even get a lucky deal on March 5.

“Depending on weather on the actual day, we might have some crawfish leftover,” Smith said. “(Then) we have a special the next day.”

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Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard Hard Cider sponsor the festival, and it will feature lots of cocktails and food, varying from chicken and shrimp baskets to oysters — fried, raw and steamed.

However, the crawfish boil gets center stage attention.

Servings will consist of two pounds of crawfish, Andouille sausage, new potatoes and corn on the cob. Smith added that crawfish that’s prepared in the Delta has a distinctive taste — a flavor his team of chefs will attempt to recreate.

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“Most people who prepare crawfish themselves are from the Delta—Louisiana, Mississippi, wherever—and they’ve grown up with it as a tradition in their household and are real good at it,” Smith said. “You can tell a native by their ability to eat the crawfish as well.”

Born and raised in Louisiana, LeBlanc said the Delta is unlike anywhere else, and it took him leaving Louisiana in the 1980s to go on tour with his first band, Dash Rip Rock, to realize how much the area and the culture meant to him.

“When you’re young, you’re trying to get away from where you’re from,” LeBlanc said. “I learned the lesson early on in life that the place where I’m from, the place I call home is one of the most unique places on Earth, and I should appreciate and treasure it.”

When LeBlanc formed Cowboy Mouth, the band quickly found a label for their sound, which epitomized their Louisiana roots: rock n’ roll gumbo. 

“You have chicken and sausage gumbo. You have seafood gumbo, and there’s no limit to what you can put in a gumbo,” LeBlanc said. “Our music is basically a mixture of a whole lot of influences like old New Orleans R&B, country, Cajun and punk rock. I’m as influenced by The Clash as I am The Meters.”

Cowboy Mouth will only cap off a day full of music. Gurufish, Atlanta Brass Connections, and Ed Roland & The Sweet Tea Project will perform throughout the day until Cowboy Mouth takes the stage at 8 p.m.

The festival’s doors open at 2 p.m., and tickets cost $15 for admittance, which doesn’t include food or drinks. Ages 21 and under are allowed to attend the event if accompanied by a parent.

There is also a VIP admission package, which costs $45 (food and drinks not included). It includes a private bar, special seating, private restrooms and a meet-and-greet with Cowboy Mouth after the performance.

LeBlanc added that this festival is one of his four favorite gigs each year, and he can’t wait to infuse some Louisiana vibes into the Atlanta festival scene.

“For me, it’s not only the food but also the atmosphere. Everybody is so in the mood to just have a great time, cut loose, see old friends and make new ones,” LeBlanc said. “And the music is usually pretty good, if I don’t say so myself (laughs).”

Event Preview

Park Tavern’s 14th annual Oyster Crawfish Festival

March 4. 2 p.m.-11:30 p.m. $15-$45. Park Tavern, 500 10th St. N.E. Atlanta. 404-249-0001.

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