Growing up in Sussex County, NJ meant a lot of things for me in the summers. The best corn on the cob, the best tomatoes, summers spent in cool spring-fed lakes, and something always going on at the Sussex Fairgrounds. One of those things was the annual visit from Michael Arnone and his Crawfish Festival. The fest itself has a great back story. A few decades ago in 1989, some homesick Louisiana folks stuck up here in the Northeast decided to enjoy some music and a crawfish boil to bring their hearts home if their bodies couldn’t be there. They had such a good time that the idea kept going, growing every year, getting bigger and more incredible… and delicious! What started out as a good time for friends has grown into one of New Jersey’s most beloved annual events.
This year will be the 31st annual Crawfish Fest.
Thanks to Covid, it won’t be without some changes. The fest is normally a kickoff to the summer festival season for many of us, but for the sake of safety, this year’s Crawfish Fest will be taking place in August on the 27th through the 29th. No matter though, as the music will still be just as hot as the weather! The talents of Tab Benoit, Samantha Fish, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Bonerama, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Amanda Shaw, Honey Island Swamp Band, and many many more! It’s three stages of the best in Cajun, Zydeco, Delta Blues, New Orleans R&B, Brass, Gospel, and Jazz. There are even free Cajun/Zydeco Dance lessons. I’ll be there for that. Lord knows I need all the help I can get!
This is the kind of festival where you need not only your best dancing shoes, but you also need your best eating pants. Unfortunately the late date does impact the crawfish boil. I admire the heck out of Mr. Arnone in that he won’t pretend to serve up a pile of frozen crawfish in a boil if he can’t get fresh. Those delicious little buggers are out of season in August. However, he is making sure those southern flavors are still WELL represented here to compliment the music. Crawfish Etouffee, Alligator Sausage, Po-Boys, Southern Fried Chicken, and more – all $12.00 or less. My mouth is watering just typing this. I want to eat all the things…
The fun doesn’t stop with the music and the food though. Do you like to camp at festivals? You can do that too! There are camping passes and various campgrounds that range in party atmosphere to quieter for families and those who actually like to sleep. You can bring your tents, pop-ups, or RV’s! (though I hear RV passes might be nearly sold out now) There is even a spot to set up your tent for the day if you don’t plan to stay overnight. Campsite hangs are the best part of any festival, after all. Check the ticket and FAQ links on the website for more information on that.
Tickets are presently on sale and tickets from 2020 are still being honored. After 31 years of doing this festival, you can be assured you are in for a heck of a good time. Somehow in all my years with this amazing festival in my backyard, I have yet to make it there! This year is going to be our first, and we can’t wait to see you all there and shake it with you! You can get tickets and all the information you could possibly need at the festival website, http://www.crawfishfest.com
We will have more information on the artists, food, and lineups leading up to the festival, so get your tickets and keep an eye here for more!
Check out the daily line-up posted below for more details:
See you out there, friends!