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CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

LLANO — For the past 10 years, David Griffith has boiled crawfish for what he calls one of the “premiere” events of the area.

“I grew up in South Texas, and crawfish were as common as bacon and eggs for breakfast, so when I got to the Hill Country, you didn’t always find that Southeast Texas or Louisiana flare.

“So right in the middle of Texas, to be able to get the seafood and the crawfish, there’s not anything better,” he said.

For the 24th year, the Llano Crawfish Open on April 19-20 will bring the taste, sights and sounds of Cajun cooking and live music to Robinson Park on the Llano River.

The origin of the event sprung from a group of Beaumont and Llano hunters who concocted the idea of bringing authentic Cajun cooking to the Hill Country in 1989 after challenging other local hunters to a crawfish cook-off.

“They sparred off and started the event, had a golf tournament and realized they could raise money for a good cause,” said Kim Webb of the Llano Chamber of Commerce.

Proceeds go to charitable organizations, including Llano Special Opportunity Center and New Horizons, which handles the Llano schools’ Christmas adopt-a-family program and jailhouse ministries.

The Crawfish Open has grown to include live Zydeco music during the day and top country music acts in the evening. This year, Texas legend Johnny Bush will entertain April 19, while the popular group Jason Boland & The Stragglers performs April 20.

Volunteers have added more Cajun-style food to the menu as well as barbecue. Other activities include arts-and-crafts vendors, a Crawfish Crawler 5K Walk/Run and team roping.

“We have people who come from all over Texas to rope in team roping,” Webb said. “We have the hotels full, booked a year or two in advance, the bed and breakfast, the restaurants. People are here spending money and helping the Llano economy.”

Organizers have ordered 15,000 pounds of Louisiana crawfish, or “mudbugs,” this year — 2,000 pounds more than last year.

“It takes a lot of dedication to get full on eating crawfish, a lot of work for that little sliver of tail meat, but once people learn how to do it, it’s just fun eating crawfish,” Griffith said. “Hopefully, we won’t run out this year, but if we do, we know it was a successful event as it always is.”

Each year, thousands of residents and visitors don’t seem to mind putting in a little extra work for a taste of Cajun cuisine.

“After you push, twist, pull and peel, you can eat it, and it’s well worth it. You have the breeze coming off the river, the aroma of the crawfish, the jambalaya,” Webb said.

connie@thepicayune.com

IF YOU GO

WHAT: 24th Llano Annual Crawfish Open

WHEN: April 19-20

WHERE: Robinson Park, located on RR 152, one mile west of Llano

ENTERTAINMENT: Live music starts 7 p.m. both nights with Johnny Bush headlining April 19 and Jason Boland & The Stragglers headlining April 20

ADMISSION: Free until 7 p.m. April 19 and $5 after; $10 until 7 p.m. April 20 and $15 after; 12 and under admitted free both days

FOR MORE: http://llanocrawfishopen.com