SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - What began as a small, modest local event 33 years ago has transformed over the years into a holiday weekend destination for crawfish, art and music lovers from throughout the Ark-La-Tex and beyond.
In both the two previous Mudbug Madness Festivals in downtown Shreveport, bad weather kept attendance and profits down from a typical good year.
Festival organizers told us this year is setting up to be a rebound year with better numbers expected, before it wraps up late Sunday night at Festival Plaza.
Just watch a few minutes of the crawfish eating contest and you'll quickly begin to see why this festival is called Mudbug Madness.
Every year the food, fun and music attract people from throughout the region, including first-time visitors Thomas and Terry Johnson from Dallas, Texas, who we met Saturday afternoon.
Organizers estimate that in a good year 80 thousand people will come to this festival. And they say 37 percent will be from out of town. That translates into 9 million dollars in overall economic impact due to visitors spending money on everything from gas to hotel rooms.
This can also be big business for the more than 50 vendors, like Shaver's Crawfish and Catering. They're helping raise 15-grand for Byrd, Evangel and Mounted Patrol.
"Today, I think (we cooked) somewhere around 30, 40 thousand pounds in the whole weekend," Said employee Jake Shaver.
The event also boasts art from local and regional artists. Camille Ellington from Lufkin, Texas won the best visual artist award, a pleasant surprise since she thought she was being handed tax paperwork at first.
"I'm in complete shock over it. It's the first award I've won at an event. I've only been painting for six years," Ellington said.
Festival organizers hope to clear $100,000 from the event this year, which also helps other events.
"We grant money to other festivals that need guidance and are just starting up downtown," explained Melanie Bacon, executive director of Downtown Shreveport Unlimited (DSU).
DSU is the private, non-profit organization that produces the festival. With the threat of storms holding off so far, it appears the festival could reach its attendance and sales goals for this year's event.
If you haven't made it out yet to the Mudbug Madness Festival in Downtown Shreveport, there's still time to do so.
It continues until 11 p.m. this Saturday night and runs from 11-to-11 on Sunday, May 28, to wrap-up for this 4-day event.