Community Article Categories:
|The Jambalaya News - Embracing the Southwest Louisiana Experience
by: The Jambalaya News
The Southwest Louisiana lifestyle encompasses everything under the Gulf Coast sun. Our never-ending cycle of festivals - the largest collection in the state - has come to represent our perpetual desire to share our culture while further crafting our sense of identity. Arts & Crabs Fest, a recent addition by the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana, is quickly proving to be a cultural force through its joint venture as both an arts festival and an educational campaign for our invaluable Louisiana seafood industry.
The second annual Arts & Crabs Fest will make landfall on Sat., Aug. 20, from 4-8 p.m. at the Lake Charles Civic Center. The festival draws together the strongest elements of our Southwest Louisiana perspective to yield a unique and often needed unification of visual art, live music, and our culinary traditions. The day will offer festival goers live music, an extensive art walk, vendors, and a complete crab and beer tasting with local dishes and regional brews.
Besides offering the typical playful festival atmosphere, Arts & Crabs Fest carries a steadfast attitude as it develops a positive image of the Louisiana Gulf Coast. In concert with the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Arts Council initiated the festival in 2010 after the disastrous BP oil spill to increase visibility for our region’s enduring and widely exported crab industry and its relationship to culture.
“Many people don’t realize how much our seafood is ingrained in our history,” said Matt Young, director of the Arts Council. “Food culture is central to our identity as Louisianans; the communal experience of crab and crawfish boils, the passing down of oral history over the dinner table, and the historical and economic importance of seafood make up who we are.”
The epitome of Arts & Crabs Fest lies with the crab and beer tasting which encourages residents to buy local and showcases the culinary abilities of our restaurants and the qualities of Louisiana beers. From 5-7 p.m., guests will be able to sample ten crab dishes prepared by chefs from area restaurants. Rather than pair the dishes with a wine selection, the event takes a different approach and pairs an Abita beer with each dish to expose guests to the aromas and flavors of Louisiana brews. Guests can vote for their favorite dish to win the People’s Choice Award.
Crab dishes include:
The day will also feature live music by the LakeSide Gamblers at 4 p.m. and Grayson Capps and the Lost Cause Minstrels at 6 p.m.
- Crab Gazpacho—Cypress Grill
- Crab Étouffée—Big Daddy’s Sports Grill
- Crab Ceviche—Harlequin
- Crab-stuffed Jalapeños—Sha Sha’s
- Mini Crab Cakes—Lake Charles Country Club
- Crab Meat and Poblano Bisque—Coyote Blues
- Crab and Avocado Salad—Pujo St. Café
- Crab-stuffed Mushrooms—Cajun Café
- Crab in White Wine Tomato Sauce with Pasta—121 Bistro;
- Crab dish—Sabine Pass Crab Shack
In addition, there will be a gamut of local talent with a large interactive art walk on the third floor interior balcony. From photography and watercolor to mixed media and ceramics, the art walk will provide guests with a concentration of local art within the festival. At the end of the evening, the Arts Council’s culminating Gold Key Quest raffle drawing will take place, and ten ticket holders will win one of the fundraiser’s prizes, including a $10,000 cash prize.
Arts & Crabs Fest is just one way that locals are taking the initiative to find creative ways to accelerate interest and activity in arts and culture. Arts funding is continually targeted, and this fiscal year is no different—the arts in Louisiana will absorb a 30 percent overall cut for 2012.
“For each $1 that is invested in the arts in Louisiana, there is an immediate $6 return to the Louisiana Treasury,” Young said. “The arts industry acts as an economic engine, and generated dollars are redistributed back into our communities.” Festivals in particular promote local arts and culture while attracting tourist dollars, and tourism pulls in $335 million each year to Calcasieu Parish alone.
“We want to embrace Southwest Louisiana and all it can and has offered culturally and economically,” he continued. “We want residents to have confidence in locally caught seafood, area businesses, and local art. Our aim in hosting this festival is simply to celebrate an identity that we all share.”
Arts & Crabs Fest is sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Promotions and Marketing Board, the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau, KVHP/FOX 29/the CW, Abita Beer, Bolton Ford, Knight Media, Inc., Coca-Cola, L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort, Sweet Lake Land & Oil, American Airlines, First Federal Bank of Louisiana, Isle of Capri Casino, Tobacco Free Living, The Jambalaya News, the City of Lake Charles, the American Press, and Union Pacific.
Admission to the festival is a $25 wristband. A limited number will be sold, so the public is encouraged to purchase theirs before the event. Wristbands and $50 Gold Key Quest raffle drawing tickets are available online at www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org or at the Arts Council office located in Central School Arts & Humanities Center, Suite 202 in Lake Charles. Call (337) 439-2787 today to find out more information.
By Erica McCreedy
Source: The Jambalaya News