For the second year, Starkville Main Street will host the King Cotton Crawfish Boil, its annual fundraising event, on Friday, May 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event will culminate Starkville’s yearly Savor Our South spring culinary series with a showcase of great crawfish served up with traditional fixings — and a few surprises if local cooking teams prove true to their mudbug smack talk! This year’s event will launch a new Best of Boil team cooking competition that organizers hope will capitalize on crawfish season’s coveted bragging rights.
“What will separate our crawfish from the rest will be the balance of favor and heat with hidden munchies for surprise in flavor and texture,” revealed Chef Ty Thames of Restaurant Tyler and Bin 612. Thames and fellow Mississippi Chef, David Crews, will provide the culinary creativity behind the “Heads or Tails” cooking team which will pitt their crawfish skills against several local teams who claim their own tailgating and backyard cooking prowess.
With team names like “Get Some Tail,” “At Least the Beer’s Cold,” and “Head Sucking Tail Pinchers,” the competitive rivalry is almost a foregone conclusion. Seven teams have registered for the team competition, and will compete for Best of Boil, the overall award for both culinary accomplishment as well as atmosphere created by booth decoration and crowd engagement. Best Crawfish, and the Crowd Favorite Award for the recipe that garners the most event-goer support will also be presented.
The King Cotton Best of Boil competition will be judged by a panel of locals who know a thing or two about great crawfish. The panel will consist of Mississippi State football favorite, Wayne Madkin, who sizzled on the field as the Bulldogs’ all-time leading passer from 1997-2001. In addition, Rebecca Tabb, owner of the Main Street member boutique, R. Tabb and Company and Jay Yates, owner of The Veranda restaurant will round out the panel.
“Being raised on the Ms Gulf Coast, I have many great memories of eating crawfish,” said Tabb. “I’m looking forward to this event not only because of all the crawfish, but because this is a great opportunity for the town of Starkville to celebrate together all of our great accomplishments.”
The event will, indeed, provide a great opportunity for community celebration, as event-goers will enjoy family style dining at dusk and unlimited beer and beverages provided by Clark Beverage Group as they peruse the tents of local cooking teams. Ticket holders will be treated to a 5 lb bucket of crawfish with corn and potatoes, and whatever crawfish tastes they can finagle from the Best of Boil tents. Starkville favorite, Cedar Creek Ramblers, will share live bluegrass with the crowd, and Southern Tradition Tailgating will be showing the Mississippi State vs Tennessee baseball game from Knoxville in their tailgating combat vehicle.
“I’m looking forward to the Boil because I was raised in crawfish, and I’m so excited to see the popularity of it blossom in my adopted home town,” said Yates. The restaurateur spent his growing-up years catching crawfish for boils before farm production of the springtime Southern staple became prevalent. His years attending college in Lafayette, Louisiana gave him the opportunity to taste some of the best of the best at the popular Bureaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. The King Cotton Best of Boil judging team will have the opportunity to see how local Starkville crawfish teams will measure up!
Chef Thames’ “Heads or Tails” team believes it can meet the challenge. Thames and cooking teammate Chef Crews met at a competition on the Coast for Best Seafood in Mississippi. Crews won it and went on to win the best dish in the nation at a New Orleans competition. According to Thames, in the South, crawfish can be an unforgettable experience.
“The most memorable crawfish I’ve ever eaten was in Slidell LA about 15 years ago,” Thames said. “We were invited to a family reunion where someone was cooking crawfish. The deep flavor and heat of his crawfish were perfectly balanced with cooking time. The ingredients he used were things I’ve never seen in a crawfish boil. I take his influence with me every time I cook them now, and we hope we can create that same sensation on Friday!”
Friday’s crawfish fare promises to be punctuated by some innovative ingredients and lots local community fun. Starkville Main Street believes ticket holders can look forward to one of those memorable crawfish experiences right here in Downtown Starkville.
KING COTTON CRAWFISH BOIL
May 15, 2015
6:30 – 8:30pm
Page Avenue in the Cotton District
$20.00 CRAWFISH SINGLE: Includes ONE 5 lb bucket of crawfish, corn and potatoes and ONE unlimited beer/beverages ticket
$30.00 CRAWFISH PLUS: Includes ONE 5 lb bucket of crawfish, corn and potatoes and TWO unlimited beer/beverages tickets — perfect if your Boil buddy doesn’t really enjoy crawfish