Mudbugs star at Cajun Zydeco Crawfish Festival in St. Petersburg

With 10,000 pounds of crawfish at the Cajun Zydeco Crawfish Festival this weekend, let's get this out of the way right now: It's okay to suck at eating boiled crawfish. No really!

Actually, how you eat crawfish depends on how your mama raised you. And if she raised you right, you use your teeth. And your fingers. But never any kind of utensil.

To save you newbies any further embarrassment, follow these steps:

1. Grab a mudbug and twist off the head. Put the head aside — for now.

2. Peel away the first few segments at the top of the tail to expose the meat.

3. While pinching the fanlike end of the tail with your fingers, chomp down and pull the meat with your teeth.

Some people will twist off the head and then crack open the tail with their fingers to pull out the meat. Eh, up to you. So is whether or not you suck the head for all its spicy juices and golden fat. That means you're either a true Cajun or totally crazy.

Either way, eating crawfish is hard, spicy work. Do not attempt without an icy cold beverage of your choice. Beer works.

Sources: whatscookingamerica.net and ehow.com

The music

Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp (5 p.m. Friday): They stick to a long tradition of Mississippi River valley French Creole and folk music, led by Creole accordionist and fiddler Stroughmatt.

Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie (7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday): True Creole cowboy Delafose adds rock and R&B flavors to the mix, as well as piquant covers of Chuck Berry and Van Morrison songs.

Don Fontenot & Les Amis De La Louisiane (12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Saturday): You'll hear a mix of traditional Cajun, zydeco and swamp pop.

Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys (4 and 6 p.m. Saturday): A young Cajun band that pushes the limits of tradition.

Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys (12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday): Riley is a top modern Cajun act and comes equipped with a rousing rendition of La Danse de Mardi Gras.

T-Broussard & the Zydeco Steppers (4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday): Not only is Broussard an accordionist, singer and songwriter, he plays drums, scrub board and bass guitar for mostly traditional Zydeco and Creole music.

fast facts

If you go

There will be plenty of Cajun and Creole cuisine, a crawfish-eating contest, crawfish races, bead throwing, dance contests and crafts for the kids at Vinoy Park along the St. Petersburg waterfront. The festival runs 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday ($12); noon to 10 p.m. Saturday ($15); and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday ($12). All three days, $35. Age 10 and under free. No pets, coolers or umbrellas. cajunconnection.org; (727) 892-5798.

Mudbugs star at Cajun Zydeco Crawfish Festival in St. Petersburg 03/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 4:30am]

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