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Boys' Haven to host crawfish festival

Bright red and sizzling with steam, the first batch of crawfish will hit the table for the 21st Annual Boys' Haven Crawfish Festival on Sunday, May 6. In a timehonored tradition that signals the start of crawfish season, the Cooks Two Dozen Plus will crank up an old ambulance siren.With 5,000 pounds of fresh Louisiana crawfish to cook, the team has their work cut out for them- but it's a labor of love.

"We each pay $100 a year to work our butts off.We do it for charity and we have a good time," said Cooks Two Dozen Board Member Irl Unruh.

Alarms in Boy's Haven's recent past have been less about festivity and more about escalating expenses and dwindling funds. But relief came with the recent sale of an unused tract of land along North Major Drive which put the non-profit $4.2 million ahead.

"We operate on a $750,000-a-year budget, so we could go through that amount in only five years. Now that we have a trust fund, it will never disappear. The sale insures the longevity of Boy's Haven," said Robert Patton, festival co-chair.

The Cooks Two Dozen Plus team have sponsored the Crawfish Festival since "After they harvest rice, 1990, and have raised more than $350,000 since 2004. Crawfish festivals face more competition now than when the cooks first began. Grocery stores sell boiled crawfish and neighborhood boils have become increasingly popular, according to A.J. Leger, a retired restaurant owner who orders crawfish for the festival.

"Back then, there was very little competition," he said. "But we are going to be there for them [Boy's Haven] and that's what counts," he said.

In the spirit of an oldfashioned backyard Cajun crawfish boil, the Boys Haven Crawfish, Food and Music Festival will offer family entertainment including: free kids' games, arts, crafts and live Cajun, Pop and Country music from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Performers will beBlue Broussard, The Jamie Talbert Band, Jimmy Kaiser, Steve Thrower's Alternate Route, 9 Station Drive with Lee Pelly and Billy Poullard.

Varieties of festivalstyle foods are on the menu, including corn, funnel cake, and barbecue. Texas Marine will display boats, the Beaumont Fire Department will display a fire engine and a car show will display classic-model cars and motorcycles.

CRAWFISH SEASON

Leger purchases crawfish for the festival from a buyer who collects directly from the Louisiana fishermen. they start raising crawfish in Louisiana," said Leger.

Crawfish to Louisiana are like cars to Detroit and wine to France. Crustaceans thrive in Louisiana's balmy temperatures, making it a major player in the worldwide crawfish market. Red Swamp crawfish are the most popular, according to Leger. White River crawfish are another top choice of more than 30 species found in Louisiana.

"The others are too small to eat," said Leger.

About 40 percent of Louisiana's crawfish are "wild," harvested in nets from shallow sloughs within the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.Wild or harvested big or small, crawfish are "good eatin'," as they say.Three ounces of the crustacean meat contains 15 percent Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein, with 70 calories and only one gram of fat, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry. The season depends on spring and summer temperatures and plenty of rain. Leger predicts a very good year.

"The season can go through November or December if this weather keeps up," said Leger.

And that would suit the Cooks Two Dozen Plus just fine

BOYSHAVEN

Boys' Haven has been providing a safe, caring home for troubled teen boys between the ages of 8 and 18 for 60 years. The residential treatment program is based on principals of discipline rather than punishment, where natural consequences occur and privileges are earned. Thir mission is to prepare residents to become emotionally mature and responsible members of society.

Boys' Haven, located at 3655 North Major Drive, was founded in 1945 by the Beaumont Optimist Club. It is licensed by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Service. Boys' Haven does not receive state funding since they accept only non-violent at risk youth. Other support comes from the United Way, Juvenile Probation, memorial gifts, corporate and individual donations, and fundraisers like the Crawfish Festival.

TICKETS

Entry to the 21st Annual Boys Have Crawfish, Food and Music Festival is $5 adult, free for kids under 13. Crawfish dinners are $10. Tickets can be purchased at the event at Ford Park Arena on Sunday, May 6 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m..

For more information call Festival Co-Chair Robert Patton at 658-3474 or the Boys' Haven Office at 866-2400.

This will be Boy's Haven's 21st annual festival. All revenue from this event covers a portion of the annual operating expenses.

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