Since 1984, Shreveport has paid tribute to a cherished Louisiana tradition—the crawfish boil—with its annual Mudbug Madness Festival. As many as 56,000 people flock each day to what has blossomed into one of the state’s most popular Cajun festivals, where they nosh on succulent seafood and compete in crawfish-eating contests that encourage participants to test their stomach size and sabotage their opponents by sneaking lobsters into their bowls. “One year, we had a man eat 42 pounds of crawfish in 30 minutes,” marvels festival coordinator Melanie. “We’ve cut it down to 15 minutes since then.” In addition to eating crustaceans, attendees can also lure them across the stage during crawdad-calling contests. “It gets really lively,” Melanie says, describing how the sirens-in-training are allowed to do nearly anything they can think of to entice the crawfish into their reach.
Cajun, zydeco, and jazz tunes waft through the air during the festivities, emanating from three stages helmed by headliners such as Wayne Toups, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr., Super Water Sympathy, and Windstorm. The rhythms reach the ears of shoppers browsing original artwork and handmade jewelry in the arts area, expanded after previous years' success. On Thursday, local athletes can work up an appetite in the 5K race. Children of all ages burn off energy in the kids' area, where they can somersault in the bounce house, tackle art projects, or plop down in front of a stage where magicians and storytellers keep their young minds off the uncertain fate of lollipop futures.
Now in its 63rd season, Shreveport Opera delights theatergoers with classic operas rendered in sumptuous visual and euphonic hues. As one of theater history’s most highly praised and produced pieces, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly continually entrances worldwide audiences with its tragic tale of the dark side of devotion. Set in Nagasaki in the dawn of the 1900s, Madama Butterfly’s journey begins when pious U.S. Naval officer Pinkerton seduces an innocent Japanese girl named Butterfly, marries her out of convenience, and then abandons her to fetch an American wife. When her estranged beau finally returns to Nagasaki with his new wife, an ending both brutal and heartbreaking unfolds. Although the opera is sung in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage, Puccini’s powerhouse score of sweeping arias, romantic duets, and devastating choruses packs an emotional wallop that defies translation.
Ingredient whisperers at café @ artspace adorn tummy canvases with freshly prepared fare, which guests savor surrounded by art exhibits and items for purchase crafted by local artisans. Talented cooks can transform all sandwiches, such as the pesto chicken with spinach and mozzarella, into wraps with nothing more than their wits and doctorates in magic. Turkey Reubens flaunt thinly sliced pastrami, swiss cheese, kraut, and dijon mustard mounded atop marbled rye, and The Fox in Sheep’s Clothing spins a gyro-like web by layering lamb’s meat with crisp romaine and fresh tzatziki sauce. Dessert specials round out each duo's eating excursion, with whoopee pies satisfying the FDA's recommended quotas of cream and nostalgia.
Centenary Fitness Center, like the university it calls home, is a self-improvement and educational facility. Just as libraries give students resources to increase their brainpower, the full-size gym boasts an indoor swimming pool, racquetball courts, and aerobic machines to help members bolster their muscular strength and endurance. Staff members, the professors of exercise, showcase the slimming powers of Zumba and spin during group exercise classes and can educate members on how to use fitness machines properly, thereby reducing injuries caused by trying to outrun a treadmill.
Sicily natives and Chianti restaurateurs Enrico and Nino Giacalone serve rustic, taste-bud-wooing regional and Northern Italian fare in a romantic atmosphere. Settle in with a glass of Geyser Peak sauvignon blanc ($6.00) or Columbia Crest Two Vines shiraz ($8.25), and stoop to conquer appetizers such as the funghi in padella con granchio, jumbo lump crabmeat and mushroom caps boldly bathed with white wine, parsley, and lemon-butter sauce ($9.50). Entree eaters may become beguiled by oceanic fruits including the Pagello "Albert,” a sautéed snapper as fresh as a mint-scented wink from a stranger ($19.75). Conduct a forked foray into the house signature dish, scaloppini alle noci e more, a flavorful juggling act of veal scaloppini bursting with blackberries and shrimp; sautéed with mushrooms, shallots, and roasted almonds; and flamed with blackberry brandy in a rich cream sauce ($25.95). Hearty portions may sway even selfish sweet teeth to share succulent slivers of the mocha-almond butter cream cake ($4.95).
A member of the Central Hockey League, the Mudbugs are led by former player and current head coach Scott Muscutt, who has manned the team's helm for the past 10 seasons. The CenturyTel Center's gold-level seats offer optimal views of the ice so you can spot swift slap shots, phenomenal glove saves, and old hidden-puck tricks. This game features a special post-game jersey auction, plus appearances from cast members of the A&E reality series Billy the Exterminator. Fans can cheer on Mudbug veteran center Travis Clayton and crafty goaltender John DeCaro with Clawed and Lil' Bugger, the team's crawfish mascots and official UN ambassadors from New Zealand.