Arts & Crabs Festival: A 'homegrown down home event'

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Artists and seafood chefs will be flaunting their creativity to boost the area arts scene this weekend at the Arts and Crabs

Festival, a fund raiser for the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana.

The event will be held 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 at the Lake Charles Civic Center Coliseum. The event is for those aged 21

and up only.

Erica McCreedy, ‎executive director of the Arts Council, said the event has succeeded expectations.

“It has been pretty huge, we started in 2010, first as a way to have a seafood festival that ties together the arts as well,”

she said.

“The BP oil spill occurred that year as

well, so we wanted to show the importance of local seafood and how

strong the industry

would continue to be despite the disaster. Since then it has

become our pinnacle event for the Arts Council, as well as our

biggest fund raiser. It has really helped us grow our programming

and services. This year, it was named a Top 20 event by

the Southeast Tourism Society. We were really surprised at how

much people wanted to see something like this, especially the

craft beer side of it. People loved that aspect of it. We tie in a

lot of local artists as well, this year we will have about

30 artists that will have an open air display. You can see some of

the coolest artists in the area.”

A laid-back atmosphere has helped aid the event’s growth.

“People really like the idea,” McCreedy said.

“It is a homegrown, down home event, definitely less fancy than other culinary events. You have craft beers, crab dishes so

its kind of brings that sense of a crab boil, more intimate or casual than some bigger events.

We have received a lot of support from area businesses who really like the mission and goal of it.”

Proceeds from the event help fund a variety of Arts Council projects.

“It has been a big driver behind our work with the bigger agencies in the area,” McCreedy said.

“We have been working a lot with The

Chamber and the city, it allows us to really think about long term

planning, what we

want our mission to be, what we want our goals to be for the next

couple of years. We are able to be community developers

in the area, work more on how to increase opportunities for

artists, workforce development, residences, as well as expanded

the Lakefront Music Festival in March, we have expanded the spring

art walk, we had a downtown art market outside this year,

it really allows us to explore other areas for growth inside the

area.

“Our mission is to support the artists,

creative enterprises, arts organizations that brings tourism to the

area, that help

grow the local economy through all these performances. We

distribute grants through the five-parish region through four programs,

about $200,000 a year to all the performances, theater

productions, art initiatives, arts education programs, we are able

to do that. We provide professional development services,

promotional services, we try to educate artists on marketing themselves,

how to work with businesses. We act as the umbrella organization

for the arts and put on our own events.”

Chefs from area restaurants will flaunt their talents and have a chance to win a free trip to New Orleans.

“A lot people used to think it was just going to be crab cakes or crab po’boys, nothing special, but it is great to see these

chefs battle it out and these awesome dishes they create,” McCreedy said.

“We have had crab ceviche, crab

gazpacho, this year we have City Club making crab beignets, Mongolian

Cafe is making a crab

sushi roll, it is cool to see the chefs take it seriously and

create these new dishes that are really unexpected. Each year

we have a competition, this year we are working with Acadiana

Profiles magazine ,the winning chef gets a weekend getaway in

New Orleans at the Ritz-Carlton, so there is a new incentive this

year to go all out and win that prize.”

Live music will be provided by Rusty Metoyer & The Zydeco Krush.

Tickets are $25 For more information and ticket availability, call the Arts Council at 439-2787.