There’s a particularly infamous event in my life that comes only once every year. Waking up on this glorious springtime morning has many participants feeling like little kids on Christmas. For it is on this day that a group of friends…aka, “Good Times Group” round up troops and partake in one festive and downright delectable day of food, friends, and fun. St. Petersburg’s official and yet, delightfully unofficial Crawfish Festival has been going strong for a solid 10 years and counting.
I’m no licensed “Good Times” member but today, I’ll consider myself a spokesperson for the thirty-somethings who’ll never, ever grow up in the name of merry-making. You see, I’m the younger (and better looking) sibling to a guy who makes it his duty to eat 70 crawfish on this much-anticipated day. Best of buds with the certified crawfish hosts, he introduced me to this Cajun celebration several years back. I’ve only missed one of the annual fests in six years and will forever blame my beau for that one…
So how might one even attempt in recreating this backyard bash? How do you throw a Louisiana revelry that draws in over 100 giddy guests every year? I’ll dish up some tips…but I must warn you that your get-together won’t hold a…crawfish to the Good Times’ decade of bug boiling and Louisiana libation concocting.
Crawfish Shipped Live and Squirming
There’s just no other way to do it! The guys and gals of Good Times insist on only the freshest and meatiest crawfish around. That means one thing: getting the little bugs shipped from the state that claims their name. This year they boasted an insane (and standard) 450 pounds of the creatures. They rely on the trusty, Louisiana Crawfish Co. to fly the bugs over to Tampa for an airport pick-up.
All The Fixings For This Irresistible Messy Fare
It’s all about the accessories when it comes to the boil. Generously shaking on the crawfish boil seasoning will produce a mixture that’s full of flavor. A batch of classic and a batch of kicked-up for the heat-seekers, the crawfish are swarming with loads of corn on the cob, new red potatoes, and Andouille sausage. Be sure to turn off the flame/heat source once they’re shiny and red to let ‘em soak in the boil for a while.
Spicy Sides Contributed By All In Attendance
Though it shouldn’t be required for entry, having your friends support the culinary cause is the quickest way to ensure an array of Cajun fare for all. Oddly enough, not everyone who attends these parties will be interested in sucking on crawfish tail so they’ll need some less intimidating refreshments. Staples like Jambalaya, Red beans and rice, Jalapeno cornbread and Cajun Corn Pudding are known to make appearances every year at the Good Times Crawfish Fest. Other ideas to give friends are: Bread Pudding, Grit cakes, Cajun Fried Chicken, Muffalettas, and spicy seafood dip.
Decorations, Music and Eating Necessities
Do what you may at your own fest but just know that there’s no better “plate” for crawfish than some handy, elegant, and eco-friendly, “Redneck China.” Let me clarify. Redneck china is the cardboard from cases of water, juices, and beer. With two inch sides all around for optimum cuisine protection, those beer and liquor loving friends won’t have to worry about spilling their goods after they’ve had one too many.
For Decorations, there’s no need to stress but integrating Louisiana’s state colors (purple, green, and gold) will catch some eyes. Any extra crawfish flair won’t hurt but it’s not essential to the big day. Jam out to some New Orleans Jazz Band tunes and your guests will quickly be in good spirits.
Cajun Cocktails and Brewskies Galore
Since you’ve just spent a pretty penny on the crawfish, you may want to consider “letting” your pals bring their own stash of inhibitors. Though I’ve never shown up empty handed to a Good Times Crawfish Fest, I can always depend on a generous keg offering of Louisiana’s own, Abita beer as well as a flowing fountain of spiked punch. Without fail, I dash straight to the cooler of “Cruise Without a Ship” or the New Orleans famed “Hand Grenade” mixture to begin my day. Words from the wise: these fruity and refreshing punches creep up on you fast…like real fast.
***The much-loved punch recipes are easy to find online. If you’re planning on hosting a shindig of your own, you can ask a few friends to help with the cost and concocting of the sweet adult beverages.
You’re probably feeling rather intrigued and impatient for a Crawfish Fest of your own. You might want to start preparing today. Crawfish season runs from March through June so you don’t have long. Wondering how you’ll foot the bill? It’s rather pricey and you’ll only want to order what you actually think will be eaten. Most crawfish eaters will consume around 2-3 pounds of the bugs along with a couple potatoes and half an ear of corn. Plan your party with an official invitation at least a week in advance to get an estimated head count. Then, happily accept donations with a jar for cash in plain sight at the fest. Also, ask that guests share what dish they’ll bring on a Facebook invite or e-mail thread so that no one doubles up.
If you’ve successfully enticed tons of friends with your party promotion, then you, my friend, are in for a day of unforgettable eating and drinking excitement. Beware…much like owning a boat; you’ll soon have friends you never knew existed…