Lobsters will be taking over Long Beach at the 2013 Original Lobster Festival, which is taking place Sept. 6-8! President of O Entertainment, Roy Hassett, answered our burning questions about what to expect at this year's festival. Trust us - this is a party you don't want to miss!
Campus Circle: What can you do at the festival besides eat lobster?
Roy Hassett: We have plenty other food stands. Besides lobsters and the lobster shack, [we have] lobster tacos, lobster rolls and lobster sliders. We basically have the feast. And on our website, you may buy an admission and a 1 1/4-pound lobster dinner for $28. So we will go through around 13,000 lobsters that weekend.
Basically, we are the drinking, dining and dancing festival. It costs you $28 to get in, and you get a meal and great bands and lots of other things. One of the [things that makes us different from] most promoters [is] we give a lot of stuff away free. In other words, we have a big tent with big screen TVs for the guys to watch the sport games. We have a photo booth where you can get your picture taken and then send it to your email address in real time with all your friends. We dress people up in crazy-ass costumes. Then we have a lobster and crawfish store. And why we do all that stuff is because nobody else will do it, so we had to do it for ourselves.
CC: What is the hardest task you face while planning the festival?
RH: That happened 35 years ago, until we found the right kind of people. And so over the years we’ve put together a hell of a staff. The people that like being there, they take time off from work. All of our tickets sellers are bank tellers from banks that we use. And they recruit really good, so the person you meet is a pleasant person who knows how to talk to people. Our lines are long, but you can spin through them. Years ago, we went to E-commerce so you didn’t have to go to Ticket Master to buy an advance ticket. And because there’s a limited amount of lobsters that we can get in and a limited amount of crawfish, if you buy a presale ticket, you’re guaranteed that meal, even if all of a sudden there’s a big run...The only way you get a guaranteed lobster [or a guaranteed crawfish meal for the Long Beach Crawfish Festival] is to have the ticket bought in advance, so that has created kind of an urgency. But the walk-up is so big.
CC: Where do the majority of the lobsters come from?
RH: Maine. We buy the entire boats when they come in. See, lobsters are predators. And so, the price that you pay by the time you get to your restaurant is because the lobsters are just like humans; some are born deformed. And so the predators, they fight; they tear each other’s claws off. The only way you can get a good per-pound price is to buy the entire boat and buy what we call the culls [lobsters that have lost one of their claws]. The culls, you chop up, and we serve those in our lobster tacos and our lobster rolls and our lobster sliders, so we don’t let anything go to waste.
CC: How did you choose the entertainment for the festival?
RH: They have to be a dance band. I get about 15 CD’s a week from groups who want to play, but most of them sound like somebody else. I have what we call a skating rink kind of an office; all the desks are around in a rectangle, and I have music piped into the center of the room. And so I play everybody’s CD that comes in, and I walk around and they give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Basically, you can play for us if you get people up to dance. You've got to have fun. I have this mantra: “If you have a message in your music, take it to West Virginia,” so you don’t get some drippy person up there, trying to play something emotional. These are people who just really want to make you party. They’re great bands.
CC: What is it about the festival that makes it so family oriented?
RH: Because we give a lot of free stuff to kids...The best place to be is at the beautiful children’s stage. We have magicians and mimes, storytellers. And they’re very good. And that’s a free show that happens 45 minutes of every hour
...At my events, you meet somebody. Since we sell our tickets online, we’ve established email communication with lots of our customers. Last year I got an email from a girl. She said, "I want to thank you. I have blisters on my feet. I’m so tired I can’t get out of bed this morning. I have no idea why I’m going back there today." It’s just a party. And you have a good time. No rallies, no fistfights, no ego. The staff has been with me for 30 years.
The 17th Annual 2013 Original Lobster Festival takes place Sept 6-8 at Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach at 300 Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, Calif, 90802. Tickets start at $13 and can be purchased only online until Sept. 5. After Sept.5, tickets can be purchased at the box office. For all the info and to purchase tickets, visit originallobsterfestival.com.