The Cajuns Are Coming!
Mar 04, 2020 07:05AM
They may call him “Tiny,” but he has a big imagination, huge ambition, and most of all, a big heart. Daniel Guidry is the driving force behind a recent addition to Galveston’s ever-expanding list of annual festivals, and this one happens to be dedicated to those little buggers we all know and love so much - crawfish. Known also as crawdaddies, mudbugs, or just plain delicious, their popularity along the Texas Gulf Coast has exploded in recent years, although Cajun transplants have long been quietly continuing the Louisiana crawfish boil tradition in their own homes.
On March 27 & 28 at Tin Cup’s Caddy Shack on Stewart Road, this quintessential Cajun dish will take center stage at the Bon Temps Rouler Cajun Throwdown, but Guidry has stacked the opening lineup with Cajun superstars, acres of entertainment, and culinary teams from all over the country serving up a full slate of Cajun cuisine.
This is not the first major crawfish boil that Tiny has organized - he was part of an event in 2017 that set the Guinness World Record for the most crawfish served in an 8-hour period (58,083.98 pounds). The next year, he attended a Mardi Gras ball in 2018 where he ran into his good friend Danny Higgins, an owner of Tin Cup’s Caddy Shack. Guidry remembers Higgins saying to him, “Tiny, you did it once, you can do it again, and I have 18 acres for you to use when you are ready.”
Pulling from their experience, Daniel and his wife Danielle approached the idea of a new event carefully and deliberately. “We talked and decided that if we were going to do this, we were not going to form a non-profit organization,” he remembers.
“Instead, we wanted to try and find an established charity that would work with us, and Danielle was a big believer in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. So, we made the call, and the very next day, they called back to tell us that we had been approved as official merchants for St. Jude.”
The couple met this expedient response with a mix of elation and shock. “We looked at each other and said, ‘so what are we going to do now?’” Daniel says with a laugh.
Over the next year, the Guidrys designed and planned an all-inclusive Louisiana-themed event coupled with that quintessential island feel. High on Daniel’s list of priorities was to create a weekend-long cooking festival that included much more than crawfish and celebrated the myriad of flavors within all Cajun cuisine. Aside from the food, Daniel and Danielle also wanted to maintain the spirit of their beneficiary.
“We didn’t just want this to be a ‘grown-up’ crawfish boil,” he explains. “We wanted to be family friendly. We want the old kids and the young kids - everyone - to be able to come and have a great time.”
As the inaugural event inched closer to going live, Daniel remembers being overwhelmed with the outpouring of encouragement he received from Galveston. “We received so much support - from the city, from Galveston Monthly, Galveston.com - everyone was willing to help us. Galveston Shrimp Company donated half of my shrimp - one thousand pounds of shrimp (we cooked two thousand),” he says.
This year, the Second Annual Bon Temps Rouler Cajun Throwdown returns with even more food, fun, and the promise of further enhancing Galveston’s status as a sought-after destination.
“As of late February, we have probably filled close to five hotels already,” Guidry says of the expected attendance which includes not only festivalgoers but 30 cook-off teams from all over the country. With a total weekend purse of $10,000, including the highest pot of any crawfish cook-off with a $5,000 award for the First-Place team, the Cajun Throwdown has attracted culinary teams from across Texas, all the surrounding states, as well as New York, Nevada, California, Montana, Florida, Missouri, and Mississippi.
The weekend begins on Friday evening with the Cajun Kick-Off Cook-Off with entries that cover the entire spectrum of Louisiana cuisine. Teams will be judged on their entire presentation including the food, hospitality, tent, and set-up.
The cooking continues into Saturday when teams will boil their best crawfish recipes for a chance at the grand prize, and crawfish enthusiasts can enter to win a $250 prize for whoever can eat the most crawfish in 15 minutes. In addition to sampling the cook-off competition, attendees will also get to partake in other coastal delicacies from local food trucks, as well as boiled shrimp, oysters on the half-shell, charbroiled oysters prepared by Out Da Ditch Cajun Seasoning & Life Enhancer.
The Cajun Throwdown will also feature a heaping side dish of star-studded entertainment with performances from Cajun artists Keith Frank, Jamie Bergeron, Dustin Sonnier, Travis Matte, Grammy Award-winner Wayne Toups, Louisiana’s own Billboard Country Chart-topper Frank Foster, and Hannah Kay from NBC’s The Voice™. These Cajun crooners will provide the soundtrack for a new addition to the festival this year, a Zydeco Dance-Off where one talented couple will take home a $250 prize.
Despite this cornucopia of Cajun culture, Guidry maintains that there is but one ultimate purpose that drives his Galveston festival. “This is about the kids who cannot make it,” he says. In honor of all the children who remain in the care of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Daniel and Danielle have designed a mammoth playground within the festival to firmly establish the Throwdown as a family-friendly event.
The “Tiny Throwdown” area will feature 14 different oversized inflatables, kids crawfish races, and several Tonka Earth Movers placed atop a giant sandbox made from a literal truckload of sand brought in by Tandem trucking company.
Additionally, Guidry’s vast organizational skills have elicited the support of philanthropists, sponsors, and volunteers from the Galveston community and surrounding areas. The long list of local sponsors includes Del Papa Distributing Company, Tandem, Katie’s Seafood Market, Galveston Shrimp Company, and Joe Tramonte Realty, while Galveston ISD, Hitchcock Band Association, and Santa Fe Memorial Foundation will supply the event’s volunteer staff.
To the thousands of people who are expected to attend, the Bon Temps Rouler Cajun Throwdown is a perfect representation of Galveston’s distinct creativity and compassionate community.
Rouler Cajun Throwdown will be held Friday, March 27 from 4pm-12am and
Saturday, March 28 from 11am-12am at Tin Cup’s Caddy Shack, 9020 Stewart Road. Several ticket options
are available, all of which include all-you-can-eat shrimp on Friday and/or
crawfish on Saturday. For detailed information about the festival including
tickets, parking, lodging, volunteers, sponsors, and the complete entertainment
schedule, visit www.BTRCajunThrowdown.com.