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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

LET THE MADNESS BEGIN

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Crawfish Reign Supreme Memorial Day Weekend

For the 37th time, the gates will swing open this Memorial Day weekend on the Mudbug Madness Festival for three days of music, entertainment and, of course, the small freshwater decapod crustacean bearing a strong resemblance to a lobster. And this year's event boasts a new sponsor in Southwestern Electric Power Company.

The festival will run 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. There will be no charge Friday until 5 p.m.; then admission will be $6 through the remainder of the festival. Children under 7 are free, as is anyone with a valid military ID.

Mudbug 2021 is the follow-up to the lack of an event in 2020 thanks to the coronavirus. Asked what's different about this year's festival, Chair Terri Matthews said with a laugh, "Everything, compared to last year.

"Honestly, it's like the best year on steroids. If we have good weather, I just feel like we're going to hit it out of the ballpark. The music is top-notch; we've really beefed that up."

Mudbug Madness 37 will feature two performance stages. The NBC 6 Madness Stage will feature headline performers CJ Chenier, Bag Of Donuts and Sister Hazel. Other Madness Stage performers include Seratones, Geno and Gerard Delafose, and Willie Jones. The FOX 33 Swamp Stage will feature headline performers Gregg Martinez, Chubby Carrier and Wayne Toups. Other Swamp Stage performers include Southern Roots, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, and country group Parish County Line.

The Kids on the Bayou Stage will feature magicians, dancers, karate demonstrations and music just for the younger set. Added to that, the kiddos – young and old – can enjoy a rock wall, hands-on art activities in grab-and-go bags, and a Bricks for Kids Lego tent.

Treasure seekers will be happy to learn that there will also be the Mudbug Madness Treasure Hunt. It begins Friday, May 14, with clues released in the 10 p.m. KTAL NBC 6 newscast each night.

There will be $5 lunch specials on Friday, all-day Happy Hour $3 beverage prices Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the Shiner Beer Garden.

Returning to the festival this year is the Conterra Networks Cornhole Tournament presented by KSLA News 12 and Alpha Media. The Shreveport-Bossier Cornhole Association is organizing a business challenge on Friday with up to $2,000 going to charity. There will be a Luck of the Draw challenge on Sunday with a $1,000 split payout. The main tournament on Saturday will decide the winner of a total payout of $1,500.

Of course, the expected attractions of any Mudbug Madness Festival will be in evidence, as well. The popular Celebrity Crawfish Eating Contest will be held on opening day at noon. On Saturday, the crowd-favorite Men's Crawfish Eating Contest will be held at 1 p.m. The ladies will get their shot in the Woman's Crawfish Eating Contest Saturday at 2:30 p.m. And, for the sports-minded crowd, there will be the Crawfish Calling Contest Saturday at 4:15 p.m.

"The thing about it is, now that live music and festivals are back, everybody wants a part of it," Matthews said. "Of course, food and boiled crawfish are the main things. Performances, the music, the stages are packed full of local, regional and even national acts. Of course, the cornhole tournament is coming back, and that was huge in 2019."

For the safetyconscious – and who isn't in the age of Covid? – precautions will be in place.

"We are following the Louisiana government open safely guidelines when it comes to outdoor events. So, we're having the rooms sanitized daily. We have beefed up cleaning and washing off the tables.

"We will encourage social distancing. We will encourage washing your hands. All the things that we're required to do, we will do," Matthews promised.

But putting on a festival like this is more than just music and crawfish. Matthews has been chairing the event for an impressive 30 years. "It's been crazy to watch it grow from what it was to what it is now," she said.

The festival's success is in large part to several factors, Matthews explained. "What I attribute it to is, first and foremost, we have a dynamite committee that the majority of us have been with it for many years. It is a well-oiled machine. So, our volunteer committee, number one."

Secondly, she said, the community has embraced the event wholeheartedly. "It's not a thinking festival. It's to come down and have a good time. The community has embraced it as far as coming down and enjoying it. The community has also embraced it by sponsoring it, which leads me to the third thing.

"Our sponsors are guaranteed something. When we sell them a partnership, we say here's what you are going to get in return. And we make sure they do. We document every bit of it. It makes it easier to renew those sponsorships, and, of course, those sponsorships are what drive next year's festival."

Matthews said that team and community support are what has sustained the festival. "Fortunately, with Mudbug, we've had some really good years. We've been able to put money back for rainy days and rainy years. Since we're an outdoor event, any year we can lose an entire festival. We know that, so we have put money back and managed it wisely to prepare for disasters. So, we are one of the fortunate ones that have been able to do that. We were prepared. It's never fun to lose a full year's revenue [like 2020], but the majority of our sponsors rolled their money over to this year. And we've picked up new sponsors, so we're good to go."

For updates on the events and more information, you can go to www.mudbugmadness.com.

If the past 36 years are any indica- tion, beginning May 28, Shreveport's Festival Plaza will be rocking and roll- ing to fun, food and plenty of folks there to have a good time.

Matthews said, "This community needs Mudbug Madness. We're working hard to give everyone the celebration they want."


ON STANDS NOW!

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