Roy Hassett, president of O Entertainment, knows his crawfish, and he knows how to put on a great festival. He gave Campus Circle the inside scoop on what we can expect at this year's 20th Annual Long Beach Crawfish Festival.
Campus Circle: Do you use the same crawfish vendors for every festival, or do you switch them up every year?
Roy Hassett: We are the crawfish vendors. Nobody else can sell crawfish in there but us...We have 35 people serving food, taking tickets, putting meal plates out, new pots of butter to dip them in, coleslaw. The meal comes with corn and potatoes, and we have the world’s largest steamers. I have greeters. They go down the line and tap somebody on the shoulder. We introduce them to the person behind them and say, "What’s your name?" "Jim." "Jim, meet Betty." And we put bars right by the lines and before you know it by the time they get up to eat their food, they’ve had a couple drinks and they’re friends.
CC: How do you cultivate an authentic New Orleans style/influence at the festival?
RH: We use the same recipes that they use there. I sent two people of my staff back and talked my way into the Café Du Monde. And I basically stole their recipe. And we duplicate it out here. They’re a really cool little café front with French doors. We have a lot of fun doing what we’re doing.
CC: How long does it take to plan the festival? What are the most important tasks done to make the festival a success?
RH: It takes me about 35 seconds to plan it. The time comes in making sure I change the groups every year in booking the entertainment, making sure the travel arrangements are made and hotel accommodations are made. It’s just logistics.
CC: Which music acts are festivalgoers most excited for and why?
RH: Step Rideau. His name is Steven, but they call him Step. Then we have the prodigy, Andre Thierry, who’s considered the best accordionist in the entire industry, a prodigy. We’re bringing in a young man for Zydeco, Cedryl Ballou. He’s out of Texas. And we’re bringing in a new guy that’s really hippy hippy and brought kind of a Tex-Mex flavor into basic Zydeco. His name is Ruben Moreno.
CC: Do you have a "target age" for festivalgoers, or do you cater to all ages?
RH: From 6 to 66.
CC: On your website you offer suggestions of hotels where attendees can stay during the festival. Do people really come from out of town just for the festival? How far do they come?
RH: Last year, our first two tickets sold to a couple in Denmark. They were coming to Los Angeles and were looking for things to do. And they Google it. We have people that travel by car a long ways. A lot of people come from San Diego, a lot as far as Santa Barbara. Most of our people live within 80 miles of the site.
CC: Are most people who attend the festival loyal fans who return every year or new customers hoping to enjoy a new experience?
RH: It's basically word of mouth... People go back, get around their water cooler and say, "What did you do this weekend?" "Oh, I went to this great festival. You should go there." Or they hear our advertising. But we have a lot of regulars, people that come every year. And they’ve now become territorial. We have lines when we open at noon, and they all run up to grab their favorite table.
For more information on the Long Beach Crawfish Festival, click here.
The 20th Annual Long Beach Crawfish Festival takes place at Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach, Calif. from Aug. 3-4. On Saturday, Aug. 3, festival hours are 12 Noon to 11 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 4, festival hours are 12 Noon to 10 p.m.