Live boil adds flair to annual Crawfish Festival
During a slight break between customers, a man serving heaping portions of crawfish, corn and potatoes walked over to a nearby picnic table and asked Maggie Fitzgerald whether the plate she ordered was enough or if another round was in store.
'Round two? Oh God, yes. Probably four. They're just fun to play with,' she said.
Saturday marked Fitzgerald's second time at the Tualatin Crawfish Festival. This time, she brought her mother, Marey Reynolds, as well as friends Larry Williams and Della Amos. The table they were seated at was bright red thanks to pounds of crawfish covering its surface with used shells placed on a few open napkins. Fitzgerald pauses during her conversation to teach her mother where to find the meat and how to properly pinch the tails and suck the heads of the critters.
'They're a mess to look at,' Reynolds said as she watched her daughter feasting, eventually finding a good piece of tail meat all on her own.
'If you're going do it, you've got to have four or five bags,' explained Williams of the miniature crustaceans. 'You probably won't get full; it's just the fun of it.'
Fitzgerald, originally from Portland, spent two years in New Orleans where she picked up the crawfish habit. Hundreds of other festival-goers had their own reasons for migrating to the 61st annual event.
'I think it went very well,' said Tualatin Chamber of Commerce CEO Linda Moholt. 'The weather was 36 degrees cooler than last year. People were so much happier. I think they had a great time.'
There were a wide variety of new features at this year's festival, including an all-day live crawfish boil on Saturday. Wooden Nickel Catering worked the boil, selling out of more than 1,000 pounds of crawfish thanks to hungry customers.
'It was a huge hit,' Moholt said. '(The Wooden Nickel) worked super hard, I know that. They were cooking it as fast as they could. Something we all agreed on is that we must do it again.'
Moholt walked around the festival, asking people what they thought about the crawfish, and heard nothing but good reviews. Trevor Guidry, a Baton Rouge native who lived in New Orleans before making the move to Portland a few years ago, said the meal could have used some more spice in his opinion, but it was good all the same.
'Down (South) they'd throw in bulbs of garlic, sausage, mushrooms to soak up the spices,' Guidry said. 'We'd have four to six boils a season.'
This was only the third time Guidry had eaten crawfish since moving to Portland.
Other additions to the festivities this year included a swing dance competition and a sing-off. The annual Atsa My Dawg show also saw the added components of the Tualatin Dog Park grand opening and a book signing by Carol Gardner and her dog, Zelda.
'The dog show was free this year, and it was huge,' said Moholt of the event that more than doubled in size from last year. 'It was just such a fun weekend.'
Back at their picnic table, Fitzgerald rifled through the 'done' pile, making sure no one threw aside a good piece of meat still untapped in its shell. Sure enough, she finds some.
'They're work. They're a lot of work. But hey, ain't nothing better,' she said.
'Once a year!' added her mother, still figuring out the mechanics of crawfish consumption. Fitzgerald carried on, methodically pinching and twisting, saying, 'This is it, honey. This is it."