Le Grand Regal Cajun took place on dare I say the perfect evening; the steamy weather added to the authenticity of the event making the crawfish and the beer taste that much better. Even though Lafayette is 2500km away, Festival Du Voyageur managed to bring a taste of Cajun Country to hungry Winnipegger’s and capture the spirit of the south with every bite. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a crawfish boil it is a truly remarkable meal steeped in centuries old tradition. The crawfish, a fresh water shellfish, have become synonymous with the hardy French pioneers who settled along the bayous of southern Louisiana. As the story goes, when the Acadians left Nova Scotia to journey down south, the lobsters missed them so much they decided to follow suit. As the lobsters made the long trek, they began to shrink in size and eventually became the crawfish we know today. The meal itself is pretty simple, but what it lacks in intricacy it makes up for in flavour. Essentially you take crawfish (also commonly referred to as “mudbugs”, “craw daddies” or “tiny lobsters.”), corn, potatoes, Andouille sausage, vegetables, all sorts of delicious seasoning and throw it all in a pot, cook it up to perfection, and serve it up on a large surface for everyone to enjoy! And the best part is, getting your hands messy is highly encouraged! Now just imagine eating this cajun delicacy at the beautiful Fort Gibraltar with a cold drink on a warm summer night… Need I say more?
On top of the meal, the lovely and oh so talented Andrina Turenne of the Juno nominated Chic Gamine was meandering around playing guitar alongside the iconic guitar player and Winnipeg’s very own Damon Mitchell. If you needed to catch some shade you could also duck into one of Fort Gibraltar’s historic cabins to experience traditional voyageur pastimes such as blacksmithing and traditional music. And just when the night seemed to be winding down, The Dirty Catfish Brass Band, a ten-piece New Orleans inspired ensemble, came outta nowhere and rocked the fort until the sun drifted below the timber walls. For obvious reasons the night was unforgettable and all around a wonderful time. To completely transform a space and make people feel like they have gone on a wild vacation by using nothing more than food and entertainment is no small feat. A huge thanks to Festival Du Voyageur for hosting the event and to Fort Gibraltar and all their staff for making everything possible, we already can’t wait for the next installment.
***All proceeds go towards Festival du Voyageur’s endowment fund, if you would like to learn more please click here