Crawfish boil, car show set for March 19

Waxahachie may be more than 200 miles from the Gulf Coast, but crawfish season will still be just as tasty thanks to Waxahachie’s Downtown Merchants Association and association member Atkins Seafood.

On March 19, the first Wheelin’ and Peelin’ car show and crawfish boil will roll into downtown, with at least 50 cars lined up around the courthouse and 80-100 bags of crawfish served from a nearby Atkins Seafood booth on a first-come, first-serve basis.

That much crawfish is actually about 3,000 pounds, said commercial fisherman William “Tres” Atkins, who owns the seafood storefront that opened last January and will be bringing in the fresh food.

The event is free to attend and will include a beer garden and beverage station, DJ, snow cones and a food truck for those who don’t want to peel the shells off the red mudbugs, will go from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said event coordinator Amber Caverly. Atkins Seafood will be serving up trays of crawfish for $10 complete with corn and potatoes.

The festival is Caverly’s brainchild. Caverly, who operates Plain Jane & Co. downtown and is apart of the merchants association, wanted to use part of her favorite past time to help bring more visitors to the downtown area, she said.

“We decided to combine my personal love of crawfish and the fact that our community does several car shows that our community seems to enjoy,” Caverly said. “It also makes a great canvas for downtown to have the cars on display and brings in a lot of out-of-towners and visitors who maybe normally wouldn’t come downtown.”

The event’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday, she said, adding the love of crawfish came from being born in Houston and having a sister-in-law from Louisiana.

“At a young age of 18, just out of high school, we started making it a social event,” she said. “We would go out once or twice a week when they were in season and actually eat crawfish boiled. We would have contests to see who could eat the most.”

Though there won’t be a contest this first year, she jokingly said that might be something to consider for the future.

“Our main mission for the Downtown Merchants Association is to give back to the community,” Caverly said, adding the association is a nonprofit and funds raised from the beverage stand and beer garden will give back to one of the local baseball teams’ travel expenses. “Whenever we try to come with events for downtown, we try to do something that will give back to the community. We hope to grow it, and of course with every event we put together, we’d love to see it get to the Texas Country Reporter festival level. But every event is just about being unique and giving back to the community in different ways.”

For Tres, the event provides a little different meaning. He’s been a commercial fisherman since 2004, and he’s been bringing fresh fish to the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 2006. But Atkins Seafood is the first storefront he’s owned, he said, adding he’s part of four generations of the Atkins family, born and raised in Waxahachie.

“I’m the third generation from my family in Waxahachie, and my kids are the fourth generation,” he said. “Anything we can do to help with our community is great. It’s a great opportunity to come back and visit downtown. We’ve grown to the north and a lot of people get lost in the hustle and bustle of northern Waxahachie, which is a great thing. But there’s traditions and there’s things downtown that we need to stay in touch with.”

For more information on the event, call Caverly at 972-923-4433.

“The most exciting thing about this will be interacting with those who maybe haven’t had the chance to come into our shop,” Atkins said. “And it’s always nice to be around cars. I’m kind of a car buff myself. I don’t have a classic car right now, but I always like to look at. Just come see us. It’s going to be good food and it’ll be a good time.”

Contact Shelly Conlon at 469-517- 1456 or email sconlon@waxahachietx.com. Follow her on Twitter @ shellyconlonwdl.