Located in the middle of rice country, Colusa reflects southern roots — from its historic courthouse to its heart rooted in agriculture and family values.
With family values come good eats as the Knights of Columbus hosted its 11th annual Crawdad Festival on Saturday.
“This is a fantastic event — and good food too!” bragged Joan Holybee who’s been attending the event for at least 10 years. “I look forward to this event every year.”
As Joan and her husband Walter continued their feast with a plate of crawdads, many others did as well.
“We had people from all around the state,” said Tim Schoder of the Knights of Columbus. “We had a steady stream of people all day, there was almost no downtime. We estimated about 750 people attended this year’s event.”
According to Schoder, it was the largest event to date.
Those eager to sample the tasty mudbugs were treated to heaping plates of the steaming, spicy crawdads.
“All the crawdads were locally grown, right out of our very own rice fields,” said Schoder. “The Crawdads are collected from the rice fields around the area and processed at a facility located at Colusa Industrial Park.”
Schoder added that the processing facility donated the crawdads for the event.
While Crawdads were the main dish, event goers also feasted on étouffée, carnitas, gumbo, sausage, ribs, and much more.
For many this is an annual event; for others it was a first time experience.
“It was a fun experience,” said Maria Moreno who’d never attended the festival. “I loved the food.”
Moreno feasted on carnitas, a plate of crawdads, and étouffée
“I have never tried crawdads or étouffée before, and they were both surprisingly good,” said Moreno, “I am a picky person — if I like it, it’s pretty good.”
Moreno commented she is already planning for next year.
“I am addicted now, and I plan on coming back. It was a fun day.”
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The 2016 family-friendly event drew record crowds and was held at the Colusa County Fairgrounds.
“We couldn’t keep up the request for crawdads,” said Schoder. “From when it opened at 1 PM to about 4 PM, there was a consistent line of people waiting. Thankfully, everyone was very patient and waited for the Crawdads — we gave a nice, healthy serving.”
“It has been quite steady this afternoon,” said Colusa resident Cynthia White, who was collecting tickets at the gate. “It’s a beautiful day for this event.”
People, young and old alike, danced the night away to the Zydeco music, making people feel more like they were in bayou country than Colusa County.
“There was plenty of great music, and I enjoyed the wonderful étouffée,” chatted Patti Arnold who’s been attending the event for the last six years. “Étouffée is a delicious Cajun dish of rice and a soup type mixture over the top with crawdads in it — my favorite.”
While the event was a first for some, for others it’s a tradition in the making.
“It is an annual tradition for me and my friend Gerry Hernandez to go,” Arnold said. “It’s also a great fundraiser for the Catholic Parish.”
The event starts at 1 PM; however, most don’t attend until later in the evening.
“We don’t get out of mass until about 6 PM,” said Arnold. “That’s generally the busiest time as everyone is there.”
The Crawdad Festival is one of the feature fundraiser held by the Knights of Columbus, an event that helps raise funds for the local parish, the parish school and other organizations in the community.
“This year we dedicated the event to Henry Royal who started the event,” said Schoder. “The primary purpose of the event is to raise money for the parish and the Our Lady of Lourdes School.”
People, young and old alike, danced away to the rip-roaring, foot-stomping, smile-’til-you-cry Cajun/Zydeco music making people feel more like they were in bayou country than Colusa County. Entrainment was provided by CZ and the Bon Vivants along with Mark St. Mary.
“The music was different — I liked that,” said Moreno. “It seemed to have put me in the mood for crawdads. It was interesting seeing the different instruments they used.”
The music and sounds of jovial conversations and children’s laughter blended in perfect harmony as crawdads bubbled away. ■