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Crawfish festival ready to roll

In the Black Belt, when people hear the word crawfish, they immediately think of Faunsdale and their annual festival.

There is a good reason for this. For the last 14 years, Faunsdale Bar and Grill owner John Broussard – better known as Ca-John – has conducted a festival that now has statewide recognition and an enormous following.

This year, the weekend of April 21 and 22, the festival returns for its 15th year.

The festival, Broussard said, came from humble beginnings. The whole thing began when he decided to raise crawfish for himself.

“When I started raising crawfish, I didn’t think it would do anything,” Broussard said. “I was originally raising them for personal use. People started calling and asking for crawfish, so I built more ponds.”

During the first two festivals, Broussard said, he got a new respect for the appetite of Black Belt citizens for fresh crawfish.

“The first year we had it, in 1992 we had 1,000 pounds of crawfish and we were cooking hamburgers by 1 p.m.,” Broussard said. “The next year, we had 2,000 pounds of crawfish and we were cooking hamburgers by 1 p.m. again.”

These days, depending on the weather, Broussard said they generally prepare from 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of crawfish. And, if Mother Nature cooperates, Broussard said, the people come in flocks.

“It usually all depends on the weather,” Broussard said. “If the weather is right, we usually have a packed house.”

Through the years, Broussard said, there have been few changes to the schedule and activities. This year, he said, will be the same with a few more activities for the younger crowd.

“Most everything will be the same, but we will have a lot more things for the children to do this year,” Broussard said. “We plan to have a lot of fun activities for the kids.”

The festival kicks off Friday, April 21 at 10 a.m. with arts, crafts and children’s activities. A D.J. will be on hand beginning at 11 a.m., with mechanical bull riding throughout the day.

At 6:30 p.m. B&K Rodeo Co. of Slaughter, La. will sponsor a real bull riding competition sanctioned by the Southeastern Bull riders Association.

In the courtyard from 8 p.m. until midnight, County Road 4 will perform Southern rock, classic country and new country chart toppers.

The restaurant will be open from 5 p.m. until everyone is fed.

Saturday, the early schedule is similar to Friday with the addition of line dancing and a crawfish-eating contest at 3 p.m. with former Tuscaloosa Mayor Al DuPont serving as emcee and Tuscaloosa Police Chief Ken Swindle acting as judge. Deputy 5 will also perform in the courtyard from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.

Saturday’s bull riding will take place at 5:30 p.m.

Sam Stone will perform from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. and Wilson Cozart will follow from 8 p.m. until midnight.

The Faunsdale Bar and Grill, the site of the festival, is located at the intersection of U.S. highway 80 and Alabama Highway 25.

For more information, call (334) 628-3240 or check www.ca-johns.net.