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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Mudbug Madness

Bringing the beat and crawfish to eat!

Music Madness?

No, has not changed its name. But the festival's focus has changed.

"We've always said crawfish festival, crawfish festival, crawfish festival," said Terri Mathews, now in her 30th year as chairperson of the annual Memorial Day weekend event. "What we came to realize (in 2021 – the year back from Covid) was, man, our music is what sells us. Of course, there's boiled crawfish. It's the end of the season. Everybody wants to get their last crawfish fix. But we realized we are a premier music festival. Now, we are really focused on, as far as our budget is concerned, as far as our advertising is concerned, really focused on promoting the quantity of bands we have over three days on two stages, and the quality of the music that we have."

The 39th Mudbug Madness will kick off Thursday night, May 25, in Shreveport's Downtown Festival Plaza. Two former, popular Shreveport bands – The Boomers and The Crawdads – will reunite to perform. A Train, one of the most popular local bands in the 1980s and '90s, was scheduled to reunite for an appearance. However, that was canceled just three weeks before the festival.

"Mudbug Madness had built its Thursday night Rewind around a 'reunion' of A Train," Mathews said. "However, it came to our attention that A Train booked another show in Shreveport the Saturday before their scheduled reunion at Mudbug Madness. Therefore, it negated our efforts to organize and host that reunion. We are very excited about the acts we do have lined up for our Rewind night. "

Those acts include Papa Mali, who replaces A Train. A Shreveport native, Mali is a founding member of The Killer Bees and will perform with his band, Shanty Underground.

Admission to the three-and-a-half-day Madness will be $10 each day for people 8 years and older. Children 7 years and younger and adults with a military ID will get in free. Also, admission is free for everyone Friday until 5 p.m. Festival hours will be 5–10 p.m. Thursday, and 11 a.m.- 11 p.m., Friday through Sunday. Cash and credit cards will be accepted, or you can buy tickets online.

You will pay vendors for your food.

However, you must buy tickets ($1 each) for your drinks.

Zydeco, Cajun and country music are just some of the sounds you will hear.

"We know how the audience is," Mathews said. "We know the older crowd comes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, and they love that Cajun music. They can get out there and two-step to it. They don't like the upbeat zydeco that you can shake your booty to. So, up until about 2 o'clock, we keep it that Cajun Zydeco two-step music on the main stage. After about 3 o'clock, we start hitting it hard with zydeco, country, or jazz and blues.

You don't have to worry about listening — or "shaking your booty” — to music on an empty stomach. Shaver's Catering expects to boil and serve some 50,000 pounds of crawfish if the weather is good and the crowds are large.

"They don't want you to run out," said Chuck Sartori, owner of Shaver's, which has supplied the crawfish for Mudbug Madness for more than 20 years. "That has always been the number one priority. It's a crawfish festival. You can't run out of crawfish."

In fact, many years ago, it was Shaver's not running out of crawfish which led to Shaver's being the festival's only crawfish provider.

"We had record crowds back then – wall-to-wall people – and we're a crawfish festival," Mathews said. "We couldn't run out of crawfish, and the other vendors were running out of crawfish. Once that happened a couple of years, we were like, 'This is a no-brainer. (Chuck) takes good care of us. He's never going to run out of crawfish. Instead of us stressing on a Saturday night and weaving our way through the crowd bringing sacks of crawfish from Shaver's to the other vendors, let's just have him take care of it.'"

Of course, if people didn't enjoy the taste of Shaver's crawfish, they wouldn't care if the festival ran out of crawfish.

"We just have our formula that we've used for years," Sartori said. "We use our seasoning – our branded seasoning. We have our cooking method. It's pretty simple to boil crawfish. We try to keep it simple. We don't want to overdo it. If you're in the backyard, you can do all kinds of fun stuff with crawfish. But when you're out there cooking tens of thousands of pounds, you have to keep it simple."

If crawfish isn't your thing, 25 other food vendors will be serving the likes of po-boys, meat pies, gyros and pizza.

Mudbug Madness has come a long way from its humble beginnings on Milam Street in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse. Mathews, who is in her 32nd year with the festival, takes great pride in the fact Mudbug Madness is not just alive but relevant.

"The truth is, I feel like since I've been with it so long, it's kind of my baby. I think it's such a great community event. I've seen other festivals – Holiday in Dixie and Cinco de Mayo — go away. Mudbug Madness and the (Red River) Revel have been mainstays. I approach it from that point of view. This is my way to contribute to the community that has been so good to me."

To learn more about Mudbug Madness – and to buy tickets online – you may visit www.mudbugmadness.com.


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