Party Line: Rajun Cajun turns 20

Expanded crawfish festival draws thousands Downtown for down-home fun

Jeremy Rooks held a live crawfish at the 20th annual Porter Leath Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Jeremy Rooks held a live crawfish at the 20th annual Porter Leath Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival.

Josh Stevens, who attended the City Auto Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival that benefits Porter-Leath on three previous occasions, said Sunday he likes the event because of the "good down-home cooking."

He was referring to the gumbo at the festival's Variety Club Gumbo Cook-Off, as well as the crawfish.

"You can't have one without the other," he said.

The Rajun Cajun festival celebrated its 20th anniversary Sunday with lots of crawfish, gumbo and people.

The Memphis Police Department said 22,000 people attended the free event in Wagner Place, which made this year's festival the biggest ever, said Mike Warr, Porter-Leath executive vice president.

A total of 16,000 pounds of crawfish were gone by 5 p.m., he said. They also ran through 120 kegs of beer before the event closed at 6 p.m. "We literally pumped them dry," Mike said.

Twenty-four teams participated in the Variety Club Gumbo Cook-Off.

This year's festival was expanded to use the "other side of the tracks," which meant Riverside Drive was closed this year. An additional stage was set up, as well as other tents for vendors and the gumbo cookoff tent.

Music was provided by Webb Dalton, Lafayette's Bayou Boys and Tout Le Mon.

Broad Avenue art walk

One of the largest art attractions Friday night at the Broad Avenue Arts District Spring Art Walk was the 8-foot-by-16-foot steel American flag built by Ira Hill. Ira, who is foundry artist in residence at the National Ornamental Metal Museum, exhibited his flag around the country. He encourages people to express themselves by drawing or writing on it.

"Graffiti is the gateway to political change," he said.

He has gotten some memorable graffiti over the years. In one city, someone wrote, "America's not broke. It's fixed," Ira said.

Memphis artist/musician Paulus Bunion was one of the first to draw on the flag during the festival. He drew a face with an empty comic book bubble coming from its mouth so someone else could insert a message.

Live music and food also were featured at the event on Broad between Hollywood and Collins.

During "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," men walked down Broad to Collins to Sam Cooper Boulevard and then back to Broad in high heels and other feminine footwear. The walk was presented by the Memphis Area Women's Council and Memphis Men for Memphis Women. David Brown and Reid Phillips were co-chairmen.

"It's going to be a long, crippling walk," Ashley Roach-Freiman said. "I should know."

Zayid Saleem, a lawyer, participated in the walk twice before. "This year, I'm wearing longer heels," he said.

Zayid wore socks with his high heels. "I just figured it would slip if you didn't wear socks."

And, he joked, "I didn't get my toes done."

'Brooks Uncorked'

"Brooks Uncorked" -- Friday evening's wine tasting at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art -- was a sellout with more than 450 tickets sold, said Suzana Lightman, who co-chaired the event with Dr. Mike and Beni Dragutsky.

Buster's Wines and Liquors provided the wine, and food was from Acre, Brushmark Restaurant, eighty3, Beauty Shop Restaurant and Lounge, Do Sushi, Mollie Fontaine Lounge, Memphis Pizza Café, Spindini, Cheffie's Cafe, Swanky's Taco Shop, Amerigo Italian Restaurant and Mesquite Chop House.

The music was from DJ Mark Anderson.

-- Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797; donahue@commercialappeal.com

© 2012 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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