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Crab dishes at 2012's Arts & Crabs Festival 
(Oran Parker / Special to the American Press)

Crab dishes at 2012's Arts & Crabs Festival
(Oran Parker / Special to the American Press)

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

Last Modified: Thursday, August 15, 2013 1:14 PM

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.

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