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It's all just one big Shellabration at this year's Crawfish Festival

The annual Tualatin event comes to town Friday, July 31 through Sunday, Aug. 2


TIMES FILE PHOTO - This year's Tualatin Crawfish Festival features all of your favorite traditions, including the always exciting crawfish eating contest.Your friends talk about it. You wait all year for it. Quite frankly, you can’t live without it. And finally — finally — the annual Tualatin Crawfish Festival is back for another year.

“It’s really Tualatin’s annual block party and it should be done right. We like to say we are the caretaker for this intuition that so many have worked hard to develop, grow and preserve,” said Executive Director Mike Higgins. “Communities need opportunities like this one to come together. We strive to make it a fun and memorable one for the community.”

This year’s “Shellebration” begins on Friday at the Tualatin Commons with musical entertainment, food vendors, a chef cook-off and a classic crawfish boil. Oh yeah — did we mention that entrance is free on Friday?

Continuing through the weekend on Saturday and Sunday, the festival moves to Tualatin Community Park where visitors will find classic attractions such as the Atsa My Dawg Show, a dunk tank, crawfish eating contests and the Village Inn pancake breakfast. Also back is the Corks & Kegs area, this time even bigger with a wider variety of brews and wines to enjoy. And while vendors have always been featured at the festival, this year you’ll find many more hand-crafted and artisan items than in past years.

“I am really pleased with what we did last year, but I think we have really taken what we learned last year and made the festival even better,” Higgins said. “We appreciate all the positive input we got from folks last year. By all accounts, it was a resounding success, but that said, as an event planner, you have to always try to be better.”

On both Saturday and Sunday, the festival opens at 10 a.m. Keep in mind, however, that the pancake breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, along with the first heat of the Crawfish Crawl races. And of course, both days will feature constant live music lasting into the night on Saturday.

And if you’ll have children tagging along with you, don’t worry, because there’s plenty of fun for them, too. The kid zone will feature a BB gun range, a bounce house that’s bigger than ever, face painting, pony rides and plenty of games.

Of course, no crawfish festival would be complete without — you guessed it — crawfish. Last year, crawfish were only available on Saturday and Sunday, but Higgins said that because of the feedback he received, he knew that the freshwater crustaceans needed to be available all the time. He also noticed that the lines to order crawfish were extremely long, often 30 or 40 people deep. To address that problem, they doubled the amount of available crawfish and hope to break a record by selling 3,000 pounds this year.

While the festival is a celebration of crawfish, it’s also a celebration — excuse us, “Shellebration” — of Tualatin.

“It really celebrates where Tualatin has come from, where it has grown and what it has evolved (into),” said Higgins.