Blue skies, red shells fill downtown for first fest of season

Life was good for thousands of reasons Saturday afternoon as the crowds spilled into Syracuse’s Clinton Square.

The sun was shining, and the temperature one the AXA/Equitable Tower peeking through the nearer buildings read an oh-so-pleasant 64ยบ F.

Crawfish Festival pulsed with people of all sizes and ages and colors, this first of a series of downtown fests that fill this concrete rectangle that’s taken up by the dancing waters of a fountain on warm-weather weekdays, a Farmers Market on Tuesdays and an outdoor ice rink from Thanksgiving to just shy of St. Patrick’s Day.

There was food, sold by vendors to pay homage to the New Orleans, or sold to fill the bellies of local Central New Yorkers. The lines were long for all stands except the hot dog place while we were there, but my dear wife Karen and I were not in a barking mood. Neither did we feel like standing a hundred deep for shrimp or the bright red title muddy bottom-feeder or the jambalaya and red beans.

We chose the meatballs in a heel by local favorite Columbus Bakery, were we love to get their fresh bread to go with the pasta and sauce Karen whips up at home. Three meatballs liberally doused with a tasty red sauce were served on thick, crusty hunk of fresh break. Bravo.

On any gallery, clock on a photo for a description. Click and hold on the bottom photo for an enlarged slide show.

There was music, and rock band Soul Risin’ was pumping it out proudly while we were walking and eating. A nice portion of the crowd was taking the time to pay attention, too, and not just the little kids taking delight in romping around in front of the stage, either. Serious music lovers appreciated Soul Risin’s 90-minute set, including originals.

Drinks available.

Drinks available.

Or course, there were adult beverages available to make the warm day even more pleasant if one so chose to go that route.

Beanbag toss.

Beanbag toss.

There was that beanbag toss game with the name I don’t dig available to be played if that’s your thing.

And all of it raised money for the charitable Central New York operation, Operation Northern Comfort.

Here’s the link to my story about last year’s Crawfish Festival.

Have you ever eaten crawfish, the bite-and-suck red shellfish, and if so, do you like it? What festival are you looking forward to where you live? Which photo is your favorite, and why?

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65 thoughts on “Blue skies, red shells fill downtown for first fest of season

  1. That looks like a lot of fun Mark. I’ve never tried craw fish although I would like to. I had plenty of opportunities when i hauled into Louisiana but at the time I wasn’t interested. i liked the pic of the crawfish best Mark – the juxtaposition between the tow types looks really neat.

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  2. You know, I can’t recall ever having eaten crawfish. What am I missing?Like the big one of the band and also the one of the (I’m guessing) crawfish and shrimp?? Anyway, both nicely framed.

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  3. Nicely done! I can’t believe you had meatballs at a crawfish fest though. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some meatballs but if there are crawfish or better yet, shrimp then meatballs will take a backseat fo’ sho’. Besides with meatballs, the quality of the bread is as important as the meatballs and sauce. There is a lot to go wrong there. We had our local crawfish fest too so it must be the thing to do the first weekend of May. I guess being May (no r’s in the month of May) “ersters” are off limits now. Rats.

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    • Columbus Bakery was the Meatballs in a Heel makers, DE, so I had no fear about the bread portion, and they did it right.

      Now, I know you will be sorely disappointed in my crawfish refusal, but they are just so darn unappetizing to my eye and mind. I love shrimp, but can and do get them everywhere, and to me, far more can go wrong keeping shrimp fresh and healthy at an outdoor portable feast than meatballs. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Now, DE, please do lecture me in the ways of your beloved N’awlins. โค

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  4. I’ve never had the urge to actually eat crawfish bro. Mark. Never wanted snails either. Around here we use them both to bait hooks for the catfish. Well, actually, we prefer seeing how many snails we can squish under the car tires first, then the cats feast on them (ICK!) but if there are no worms available, then, and only then, they are used for bait. Catfish is the only bottom feeder I want to eat. ๐Ÿ™‚ You have a lot of neat festivals up there little brother. Our International Barbeque Festival is next weekend, the first fest of the summer, so expecting a stormy weekend for Mother’s Day, as usual.

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      • No crawfish at the BBQ fest bro Mark. Just some of the best BBQ in the world, plus burgoo, our famous food of the gods. You and Karen should start making plans to come some year in the near future. It’s always the weekend of Mother’s Day, begins on Friday, and ends on Saturday. The only drawback is that it always starts storming about the time they light the official fire on Friday night. The cooking teams always manage to get the food done in time for the judging and the eating though, so it’s always a good time for everyone.

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  5. MBM, I have to admit, I’ve never had the urge to put a creature’s face in my mouth and inhale it’s brains. Just can’t make myself do it…..

    Meatball sandwich on the other hand…….

    And you wouldn’t believe how many times I had to rewrite this to try and make it sound “not dirty”. !!!!!

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  6. what a great day, mark. i love all the action, the food, the music, the games, the colors. i’m a festival lover as you know. i’ve never tried the crawfish, but love most everything in the seafood category )

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  7. Love the sound of Clinton Square – farmers’ markets and skating etc. Looks like you had a fabulous day out. And good to balance this sun-shining, happy people post with all the media coverage of rioting and racial tension in Baltimore. Keep smiling over there.

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  8. It’s midnight, but after looking at those photographs, I AM HUNGRY. Two words came to mind while I ogled the meatball sandwiches and shellfish… Food. Porn. *nom nom nom*

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  9. That’s put me in a festive mood, Mark. This weekend I had the choice of travelling to North Wales for the Victoriana Festival or going even further to a Georgian Festival in Cumbria. The thought of being stuck in slow-to-non-moving traffic put me off. So I chose a rather wet Saturday (the forecasters got it wrong) to spend an unfestive day at a wetlands wild bird sanctuary only 17 miles away.

    We had a local food festival in the local park, which is only 150 yards from my house, for the first time last summer. I was underwhelmed to say the least. It’s good to encourage local events and I hope they put one on again this year. Still there’s the Southport Jazz Festival coming up at the end of the month to look forward to.

    oh, and I’ll pass on the crawfish, thanks all the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Get jazzed up for Southport, Roy! That sounds like a good one, and soon.

      Maybe they’ll learn from initial mistakes and make a second go-round of the local food fest at the very convenient park a winner this summer, Roy. That would be quite lovely.

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  10. I have eaten all kinds of sea food, including crawfish and something like the shrimp only smaller. Not sure if they were delicious since I douse them in butter sauce, sometimes garlic sauce like in a scampi sauce. Okay, hope you know I am getting a little excited about festivals, Mark! You are so lucky to have already been to one! Felicia and I hit a great flea market, where she found a Fendi from Italy bag, while I found a nice purse which will go across my chest, vintage and pretty brown and white leather with a brass clasp. We had terrible coffee but ate delicious tacos! Smiles!

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  11. I love reading about the adventures that you and Karen have. The food, the sights, the music – it’s all magic. Even more special when you share it with somebody you love. Superb!

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  12. I do not dig the name of that beanbag game either, It sounds perverted! And no, I don’t eat shellfish of any kind, ever. But the festival still looks like it was fun! ๐Ÿ˜€

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