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A second life for Crawfish Festival?

Two interested parties step up

One Tualatin institution may be clawing its way back after all.

The fate of the annual Crawfish Festival has been in flux since the Chamber of Commerce announced in July it would no longer organize the two-day event, as it had done for the past 25 years. Along with the city, the chamber hosted two informative meetings for interested parties in October.

Since then, the city has received two proposals from event companies wishing to take up the 63-year-old festival, community services director Paul Hennon told the City Council on Monday.

Class Act Event Coordinators, Inc., which has been involved in the festival’s planning and execution, formally declared its interest, outlining a vision for the event which Hennon described as very much like past Crawfish Festivals, with minor enhancements. Class Act seeks to maintain in-kind donations from the city, which chamber Chief Executive Officer Linda Moholt estimated to be about $28,000 worth of marketing, law enforcement support and use of recreational facilities.

Class Act also requested the yearly $5,000 contribution the city had budgeted for past festivals.

A second group, Social Media Northwest, outlined a broader view of the festival and sought greater support from the city, Hennon said.

Changes would include moving the date of the festival so that it would not conflict with Bite of Oregon, a popular food event in Portland. The festival would be extended to three days, and would involve more food carts at the Commons, with a decidedly Cajun and New Orleans-style focus.

Social Media Northwest owner Mike Higgins’ vision includes an associated event he would call Oregon Cork and Kegs, and allow for the purchase of wine and beer, with a disc jockey providing live entertainment.

Social Media Northwest would seek a contribution of $40,000 from the city over a 5-year period, Hennon explained, and asked the city to continue funding a fireworks show, which it did this year at a cost of $10,000.

The organization was asked to provide a counter-proposal on a smaller scale, Hennon added.

The chamber is familiar with both organizations, Hennon said, although the decision-making process would include reference-checks for both.

The City Council agreed it would be willing to hear both proposals.

“I think the Crawfish Festival could use a huge breath of fresh air,” Councilor Ed Truax said. “If this is an opportunity to jumpstart the thing again, make it funner and cooler and happier, I think that’s great.”

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