Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Woodbine to Celebrate Crawfish; Three Tons of the Shellfish Will Be Prepared for Festival This Weekend -- but No Craw Dogs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Woodbine to Celebrate Crawfish; Three Tons of the Shellfish Will Be Prepared for Festival This Weekend -- but No Craw Dogs

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

WOODBINE -- One certainty about this weekend's Woodbine Crawfish Festival is craw dogs won't be on the menu.

It's been 20 years since craw dogs were served after festival organizers sold all the crawfish dinners and had to improvise to feed hungry crowds, Woodbine City Manager Sandy Rayson said.

"We drew 1,000 people for the first event, but only had enough crawfish to serve 300," Rayson said. "We went to the IGA [supermarket], bought all the hot dogs we could find and cooked them in the water we used to boil the crawfish."

Needless to say, craw dogs didn't go over very well, Rayson said.

"We learned a long time ago that hot dogs were something we'd let an outside vendor do," she said.

One thing the Woodbine Citizens Steering Committee learned from the first festival, however, is not to underestimate the popularity of crawfish. Organizers plan to serve three tons of crawfish Friday night and all day Saturday.

"It was probably not well received in the beginning," Rayson said. "We did it with a small amount of trepidation because crawfish was not viewed [locally] as a real food item. It was used as bait."

In fact, most of the people attending the first festival were probably from outside Camden County, she said.

Two decades later, the festival attracts an estimated 20,000 people who eat an estimated three tons of crawfish, either boiled and served with corn and potatoes, or cooked in a spicy etoufee sauce and served over a bed of rice.

The festival is considered the best in Camden County, according to a poll taken by a local newspaper last year, Rayson said.

"People think we're the best," Rayson said. "I think that speaks volumes."

To commemorate the event's 20th anniversary, Lyde Thomas, the man who convinced the steering committee to hold the first festival, will be grand marshal of the parade through town at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The vendors from at least six states will run 155 arts and crafts booths and another 22 food booths along the city's riverwalk, Rayson said. …

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