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Crawfish Festival starts Friday

FAUNSDALE-Watch your heads and hold on to your tails, Black Belt: the 2005 Alabama Crawfish Festival is blowing back into Faunsdale this weekend.

One of the area’s most popular annual events, the Crawfish Festival will once again feature a full two day’s worth of activities stretching across Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th. The festival is hosted by Faunsdale’s “Ca-John” Broussard and his restaurant the Faunsdale Bar and Grill, located at the intersection of U.S. 80 and state Highway 25 in Faunsdale.

The festival is a boon to the Faunsdale community and the entire Black Belt, attracting visitors–and their money– from all over the state.

“A lot of tax money comes in here and in the surrounding towns,” says Broussard. “People coming down from Tuscaloosa spend their gas money all the way down. They need lodging, so it fills up Demopolis’s hotels. We work with the Faunsdale Volunteer Fire Department and we’re trying to help them out as well.”

Among the highlights of this year’s festival will be a crawfish eating contest Sunday at 3 p.m., emceed and judged by Tuscaloosa mayor Al DuPont and Tuscaloosa Chief of Police Ken Swindle; a bevy of live musical acts working in genres ranging from rock-a-billy to funk to Southern fried rock-‘n’-roll; and a bullriding exhibition, 6:30 p.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, sanctioned by the Southeastern Bullriders Association.

“Live bullriding, we think, will interest a lot of people,” Broussard says. “And there will always be plenty of great crawfish.”

And as always, there will be plenty of family-friendly fun for children as well.

“We’ll have a water slide, pony rides, train rides, we’ll have those sort of games where you throw a ball at a stack of bottles…there’ll be plenty to do.”

Broussard says he takes care to separate the children’s activities and the arts-and-crafts tables from the festival’s rougher-around-the-edges areas.

“If Grandma and Grandpa want to bring their 4-year old grandson out and have a good time without worrying about all the other stuff, they can do that. We let you stop where you want to stop,” he said. “But if you want to go in the back and have a beer, you can do that, too.”

The live music is always a big draw for the festival, and Broussard says he’s happy with the lineup of bands for the 2005 version. The headliner Saturday night is Hillbilly Trucking, “the Southeast’s hottest and most entertaining classic country cover band,” according to a festival press release. On Sunday night,

rock-a-billy throwbacks John Bull and the Polyester Playboys will help set the stage for Tuscaloosa-based band Desperate Measures, playing Southern rock and country. Other music includes funksters The Ugli Stick, bluesy Third Trimester, and a live DJ.

Of course, the festival’s biggest selling point is always the crawfish. “Local farmers and cookers will be boiling the little red crustaceans,” the press release states, “frying the tails, making etoufee, putting them in a pie, stirring gumbo, baking pistolettes, making jambalaya, and probably coming up with a new dish or a fresh way of preparing old recipes.”

Broussard it takes a lot of work to put on something as large as the crawfish festival, but that it’s worth it.

“It’s tiring and trying at times,” he said, “but it’s enjoyable.”