ROANOKE, LA (KPLC) - - Jeff Davis parish's crawfish tours are back and they are popular not only with Louisiana residents, but foreign visitors as well. Even at age six or seven, this group of first graders knows about crawfish. But today they and their parents and teachers are learning about how important the crawfish industry is to Louisiana. Burt Tietje runs a farm in Roanoke.
"Mostly what I'm going to talk about is connecting them to their food source," said Tietje. "Kids and some adults simply do not know where their food comes from. I want to spend a lot of time talking about that."
"I'm going to harvest my crawfish in January," he tells the visitors. "You know how cold it is in January? February. Got colder. March, April, May. I'm going to crawfish into June, when it gets hot out here. The crawfish are going to start estavating again. They'll start burying up and my crawfish season will be over."
Once the crawfish are harvested from Tietje's farm, they are brought here to a processing facility and those here on the tour are taught how the crawfish are processed and cleaned.
"What surprises me most is the local people, children and adults, that don't know about our crawfish ponds" said Dione Sabelhaus, marketing director with the Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission. "How we raise crawfish, how we farm them and get them ready for market. It's a big industry for our area."
Jeff Davis has a co-op made up of over 50 crawfish farmers.
"Our crawfish doesn't just stay in Louisiana. We are also in Texas, some in Arkansas, some in Mississippi."
Tietje is amazed at the variety of visitors to his farm.
"I've had Guatamalans on the dock, I've had Russians on the dock. Germans, Canadians"
He says a Russian visitor got his attention.
"In Russia, we like beer and crawfish. I said, here, too."
The Crawfish tour ends back at the Gator Chateau, where visitors can see and hold alligators.
The tours are available for groups of 10 or more and reservations are required. For more information, contact the Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission at 337-821-5534 or go to www.jeffdavis.org