Jennifer Mills eagerly sat in the grass at Augusta Common Saturday afternoon waiting for the annual Mudbugabeaux-N-Brew Festival’s crawfish eating contest to begin.
“This is easily the highlight of the day,” the Grovetown resident said. “You should see their faces; it’s hilarious.”
The 10 contestants’ names were drawn from a hat to compete for a gold trophy and yearlong bragging rights.
“That is not easy,” Mills said. “Crawfish eating is an art. Mudbugs require a certain skill that has to be learned.”
More than 1,000 people came out for the fourth annual Mudbugabeaux-N-Brew Festival, put on by the French Market Grille West on Furys Ferry Road. It is held on the first Saturday of June in downtown Augusta.
For six to eight weeks before the festival, Jim Beck, an operating partner of the restaurant, travels to Madison, Ga., to buy fresh crawfish from someone from New Orleans. Beck said he had 1,500 pounds of crawfish for the festival this year.
Held from 3 to 9 p.m., the event also featured craft beer, a lemonade stand and live music from local musicians, including Electric Voodoo, Old Man Crazy and Tom Brown. The first 1,000 people to pay the $5 entry fee received a free T-shirt.
A tent was set up for shade, even though the day was pretty mild.
“We got lucky the weather worked out in our favor this year,” Beck said, noting that the past two years were in the 110s. “But it’s the South; we’re used to the heat,” he added.
A bull ride, a climbing wall, a large slide and other activities were provided for kids.
Phil Edwards said he came into town from Louisiana specifically for the festival.
“I haven’t had crawfish in a while,” he said, popping the head off of a mudbug. “These are great.”
Amber Gracey and her husband, Tom, had come out to support Beck, a friend of theirs, but also to see the crawfish eating contest, which Amber Gracey said was the highlight.
“The crawfish eating contest is great,” she said. “They just line them up and they go for it.”