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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Crawfest 2024 prevails in face of crawfish shortage

Crawfest+2024+prevails+in+face+of+crawfish+shortage
Mylie Bluhm

As you step onto the Berger Family Lawn, you are greeted by the smell of spices, the sounds of a band, hundreds of overlapping conversations and the sight of about 10,000 pounds of steaming crawfish. Yes, this waking fantasy is so close to becoming reality.

Crawfest, one of the largest student-run festivals in the country, has been an annual tradition since 2007. The festival entails performances by local musicians, more than a dozen vendors and of course, an enormous crawfish boil. However, recent crawfish shortages beg the question of if and how Crawfest will prevail. A severe drought in 2023, followed by a freeze, drastically reduced crawfish populations, leaving supply low and prices high. On March 6, Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry signed an executive order issuing a “disaster declaration” for the crawfish aquaculture industry, saying that “all 365,000 crawfish acres… have been affected.”

Senior Dalia Trostinetzky, executive director of Crawfest, says that Crawfest will not be severely impacted by the crawfish shortages.

“Luckily, we have a supplier that we’ve been working with for many years, and he’s been keeping us updated on the changes and prices are going down,” Trostinetzky said.

The Crawfest budget is fixed every year and is funded by the Student Activities fee and sponsorships. Although the festival is sensitive to price fluctuations, “it might mean that we just have a little less crawfish than usual,” according to Trostinetzky.

As of March 14, prices from Crawfest’s supplier are about $5 a pound and are expected to drop even more as the festival approaches. Trostinetzky says that prices during crawfish season have been around $3 to $4 in years past.

The day-long festival boasts about 10,000 guests, and although Crawfest organizers typically boil an equal amount of crawfish in pounds, this year’s supply issues mean that you should plan on arriving earlier if you want a guarantee of crawfish.

As executive director, Trostinetzky is in charge of everyone. The job, which is just as demanding as it sounds, is equally rewarding. She has worked her way up the ranks of the Crawfest executive board, starting as production manager, then artist relations manager, then director of production last year. Now, she helps decide the theme of the festival — which changes every year — as well as organizing the lineup and vendors, all while providing support to other parts of the Crawfest board. In the fall semester, Trostinetzky devoted about 10 hours a week to festival planning, but as the festival draws near, Trostinetzky says that “it’s definitely increasing.” Yet, seeing happy Crawfest attendees makes it all worth it.

“I’m honestly most excited to watch everyone have fun, because obviously I have fun. I enjoy what I do,” Trostinetzky said.

This year’s festival will feature a diverse musical lineup that has been in the works since October. The headliner is The Main Squeeze, a funk band who got their start as a party band at Indiana University. Local bands include soul and R&B group J and The Causeways, Grateful Dead cover band the Iko Allstars and the Roots of Music, a nonprofit aimed at teaching children from low-income households to play music. Their performance will be composed half of children and half of their studio band. Other artists in the lineup are Easy Honey, Mapache and Vale! ULB.

Peering behind the curtain of Crawfest reveals a coordinated and passionate effort to bring true New Orleans culture to campus that is sure to satisfy each year. Though shortages have garnered state requests for federal aid, Crawfest organizers have ensured that this beloved tradition will run smoothly and crawfish lovers will be satiated. As one of Tulane’s many gems, Crawfest is an event not to miss.

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