Crawfish are freshwater crustaceans. These aquatic creatures, that look like small lobsters, are used as live bait to catch largemouth bass, pike and catfish. Crawfish are also served as part of many American and world cuisines. The annual Michael Amone's Crawfish Fest in Augusta, New Jersey celebrates this crustacean.
The first crawfish festival was held on May 20, 1989. It consisted of a group of approximately 70 people, many homesick for Louisiana, enjoying crawfish and jambalaya while listening to a couple of local bands. Since then, the festival has grown into a three-day affair with camping, music and Louisiana-style cuisine. The festival has also moved from its original location at Suntan Lake in Butler, New Jersey, to the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta.
In addition to the boiled crawfish and jambalaya, visitors are able to feast on a variety of other crawfish dishes, including crawfish pie, crawfish po'-boys, crawfish bread and crawfish etouffee. In addition, visitors are able to enjoy traditional Louisiana dishes such as fried chicken, red beans and rice, and shrimp creole. Hamburgers, hot dogs and wraps are available for those who desire a simpler option.
Numerous bands have appeared on stage at the Crawfish Fest, but the bands change each year. Music is performed on two different stages throughout the three days of the festival, including special concerts for those choosing to camp at the fairgrounds. Those wishing to hold a private party are able to rent a private mini-pavilion and provide their own entertainment in addition to a cash bar and two-hour buffet of crawfish and jambalaya.
Visitors have the option to purchase tickets at multiple levels. Single-day and two-day combo tickets are available in advance on the festival's website for a discounted price. Those who wish to camp during the festival are able to purchase camping tickets for Camp New Orleans or Camp Baton Rouge for camping in small trailers or tents, and Camp Madisonville for camping in large RVs. VIP King Crawfish Krewe tickets are also available and offer a special buffet on Friday night and dinner on Saturday night in addition to a VIP seating area for the concerts, VIP parking and an air-conditioned banquet room with private bathrooms to escape to during the day.
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