Article Narrated by Davis Mendoza Darusman
If you’re a fan of lukewarm and mildly-seasoned seafood, but want to wait nearly an hour to even get your hands on it, boy do I know the event for you.
Houston’s Cajun AF Festival was held at Capital Bar on Saturday, May 25, promising several all-you-can-eat selections of seafood including crawfish, shrimp, and crab. Doors were set to open at 2:00pm – emphasis on set – because there was a line going all the way around the corner of Main St. and Bremond St. that began entering nearly 30 minutes after the official doors open time.
As I’m sure y’all know, the summer sun at 2:00pm in this city can be excruciating. Festival organizers didn’t provide shade for the lines, they didn’t provide any free water for people waiting (despite the fact that they were giving away free cups of water inside), and they certainly didn’t provide any explanation or apologies for the half-an-hour hold-up. So much for southern hospitality.
Upon entrance, you’re given a colored wristband that corresponds with the tier of all-you-can-eat seafood you purchased (ex. crawfish, crawfish & shrimp, crawfish & shrimp & crab), which was a clear and efficient way to help the volunteers distribute the seafood platters accordingly. In fact, if anything was done 100% well at this event, it was definitely the level of swiftness and coordination that the volunteers possessed when it came to handing out food.
As soon as you’re through the line to get in, you’re greeted by another line to get your food, which took me around 10 minutes to get through the first time around. The portion they give for crawfish and crawfish & shrimp trays probably weigh around a pound each, with the crawfish & shrimp & crab platter being on the biggest tray (at roughly $100).
The problem with all-you-can-eat food for hundreds of people is that you’re likely going to run out at some point – especially when the event was only equipped with a single boiler. When the event first ran out of crawfish around an hour into the event, patrons waited almost another half an hour to get their crawfish. I can only imagine people who got there after I did and had to wait for half an hour to get in, only to then wait another half hour to get their food.
Volunteers wore a matching shirt with a tongue-in-cheek reference to “sucking the head” of crawfish, which is actually an element of crawfish eating I tend to do – or at least, it’s something I would’ve done if the crawfish weren’t so dry. Typically, people suck the heads of crawfish for a stronger flavor within the juice stored inside, but I found myself crushing the heads in an effort to even get a drop of sauce.
Crawfish lovers know that the best crawfish are the ones whose tail come straight off when the first couple rings are pulled, but if I had a dollar for every time the tail ripped in half even four rings into peeling, I probably could’ve afforded the jumbo seafood package that included crab.
While the food wasn’t bad in any way, as they were seasoned at a nice, not-too-hot, not-too-bland level of spice, I wouldn’t say it was worth the the time and the price of admission. You’re better off going to a sit-down cajun restaurant and ordering crawfish by the pound.
I would love to attend this festival next year if a few things were changed:
- Shade the line, and if you can’t, at least offer them a cup of water. A lot of people out there were past the point of sweating since they had no liquids left to sweat.
- Have more than one boiler at a multi-hundred person seafood boil. That seems like a no-brainer.
- Pick a location that isn’t surrounded by one-way, one-lane streets. Main Street was backed up for blocks and parking was near impossible to find.
- Hell, pick several locations to hold this event instead of cramming a bunch of sweaty, hungry, impatient customers into one spot.
- Don’t hire that indoor DJ again. Take it from Coog Radio – live shows should consist of mainly music, not a DJ shouting “where the ladies at” and “mmm that food smells yummy” during the sing-along chorus of Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison.
Change those up, and you’ll see a lot more happy customers!