Originally created 04/27/01

Festival plans to dish out fun with crawfish



WOODBINE, Ga. - Camden County no longer has a crawfish farm, but people still clamor for the lobsterlike delicacies that inspired an annual festival in Woodbine 16 years ago.

Organizers of the Woodbine Crawfish Festival say they plan to serve 3 tons of the tasty crustaceans tonight and Saturday to many of the 20,000 people expected to attend the event.

The meals will be served either Cajun-style lowcountry boil with potatoes and corn or as crawfish etouffee with a roux gravy, onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic, said Alice Sue Crews, food committee chairwoman.

Preparing for the festival has become a citywide effort to handle the large crowds in the town of about 1,200 people, said Sandy Rayson, city manager.

"The key to the festival's success is it's a community-oriented festival," Ms. Rayson said. "It's a collaboration of all the civic organizations coming together."

Plenty of parking should be available within a few blocks of the festival and volunteers will be on hand to direct vehicles, Ms. Rayson said. A local antique tractor club also plans to give free hay rides to the festival grounds.

The event is spread through the city's downtown area, with more than 100 arts and crafts booths set up on a boardwalk a block east of U.S. Highway 17. A new gazebo on the boardwalk is one of three locations where acts will perform both days.

Live music and dance performances will also be held at the city's community center and the Satilla Waterfront Park.

Crawfish dinners will be served near the waterfront park, where diners will be able to sit under a shade tree and enjoy the view of the Satilla River. There is no admission charge.

But crawfish isn't the only dining choice. Ms. Crews said 25 food booths will serve meals ranging from alligator to chicken dinners to those who may have an appetite for something different.

"We have a great variety," Ms. Rayson said. "If you don't like crawfish, there's plenty of other food to fill you up."

After eating, checking out the arts and crafts, and watching the live acts, visitors can unwind with a stroll along the city's centerpiece, a wooden riverwalk stretching a half-mile along the Satilla River.

"This is a quality product," Ms. Rayson said of the festival. "It's a good community effort."

Proceeds from the festival are spent on next year's event, as well as other projects to benefit the city, such as improvements to the boardwalk, purchasing Christmas decorations and funding for Habitat for Humanity homes, Ms. Crews said.