Arts & Crabs Fest, Southwest Louisiana’s newest and fastest growing seafood festival, will take over the second and third floors of the Lake Charles Civic Center on Saturday, August 20th, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature the best of the Imperial Calcasieu experience with spotlights on Lake Area restaurants, national and regional music, and local art.

With a strong partnership with the Lake Charles/SWLA Conventions and Visitors Bureau, the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana’s goal with Arts & Crabs Fest is to generate a positive image of our region’s invaluable seafood industry in light of the hurricanes and the 2010 BP oil spill. “We are celebrating the rebirth of our Cajun and Creole heritages and the relationship between our culinary traditions and our cultural economy,” stated Matt Young, Executive Director of the Arts Council. “By simply embracing our culture and all it has to offer, we can directly improve our economy. Both the arts and our seafood industry generate renewable dollars to our state.”

An extensive crab dish and Abita beer tasting will be offered from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Buccaneer Room on the third floor, and festival-goers with a wristband will enjoy ten unique crab dishes prepared by some of the Lake Area’s most popular restaurants. Abita Beer has paired each dish with a Louisiana ale, and through the pairing, each dish and beer will enhance the other’s complex aromas and tastes and expose locals to the best of local cuisine and rich Louisiana brews.

Pairings include: Crab Etoufee prepared by Big Daddy’s Sports Grill and paired with Abita Turbodog; Mini Crab Cakes prepared by the Lake Charles Country Club and paired with Abita S.O.S.; Crab-Stuffed Jalapenos prepared by Sha Sha’s of Creole and paired with Abita Amber; a crab dish prepared by Steamboat Bill’s and paired with Abita Andygator; Crab and Avocado Salad prepared by Pujo St. Café and paired with Abita Wheat; Gazpacho prepared by Cypress Grill at Graywood Plantation and paired with Abita Abbey Ale; Mona Lisa Pasta prepared by 121 Bistro and paired with Abita Golden; Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms prepared by Cajun Café and paired with Abita Mardi Gras Bock; Crabmeat Poblano Bisque prepared by Coyote Blues and paired with Abita Jockamo IPA; and Crab Ceviché prepared by Harelquin Steaks & Seafood and paired with Abita Restoration Pale Ale. Guests will be able to vote for their favorite crab dish by depositing tips into the chef’s tip jar. At the end of the night, the winning chef will be honored with a People’s Choice Award for Best Crab Dish.

The event will feature live music by the LakeSide Gamblers at 4 p.m., sponsored by Tobacco Free Living, and Grayson Capps and the Lost Cause Minstrels at 6 p.m. The LakeSide Gamblers uses Cajun roots music as a way to build community pride for Cajun and Creole cultures. Their performances enrich the public’s sense of the Cajun music world with their traditional yet diverse repertoire of southern Louisiana rhythms that stretch across the generations. While much of the Cajun music across the state takes steps toward contemporary pop music to create Swamp Pop, the LakeSide Gamblers stays true to its roots and is passionate about educating youth on the history and genres of Cajun music.

Alabama-born New Orleans blues musician Grayson Capps erupted onto the national music scene with his 2008 album Rott ‘N’ Roll which proved to be less of a collection of songs and more of a revelation of the Southern music experience with his “sanctified Southern soul, howling back-country stomp, and raucous roadhouse blues.” His music strings together country, rock, blues, folk, and bluegrass to generate something entirely unique as it picks up speed across the country.

Grayson’s music as both a solo artist and a band mate has cemented him as a Southern troubadour who doesn’t offer a clinical and whitewashed view of the New Orleans and Southern lifestyles but instead celebrates their reality. He wrote much of the soundtrack of A Love Song for Bobby Long, the 2004 John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson movie which was based off of an unpublished novel by Grayson’s father, and though Grayson has enjoyed success across the Northeast and Europe, he is nurturing his roots by revisiting many of the Southern landscapes that appear within his music.

The phrase “Rott ‘N’ Roll” came to represent Grayson’s uncompromising and unforgiving sounds that became a celebratory song of survival in the South. Recognizing a sublime beauty within the gritty debauchery of Louisiana, Grayson Capps and his newly formed band the Lost Cause Minstrels have been compared to music legends Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt.

Arts & Crabs Fest is sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Promotions and Marketing Board, the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau, KVHP/FOX 29/the CW, Abita Beer, Bolton Ford, Knight Media, Inc., Coca-Cola, L’auberge du Lac Casino Resort, Sweet Lake Land & Oil, American Airlines, First Federal Bank of Louisiana, Isle of Capri Casino, Tobacco Free Living, the Jambalaya News, the City of Lake Charles, the American Press, and Union Pacific.

A limited number of $25 wristbands will be sold, but the festival will offer a variety of activities and entertainment, including an art walk with over twenty local artists, including a special appearance by Lake Charles-born painter Eddie Mormon, and craft and food vendors. Arts & Crabs Fest is held in conjunction with the Arts Council’s annual membership drive, the Gold Key Quest raffle drawing. Purchasers of the $50 raffle ticket will be eligible to win one of ten fabulous prizes including a $10,000 grand prize, original art work, airline tickets, and more. The drawing will be held during the festival. Ticketholders need not be present to win. For more information about Arts & Crabs Fest or Gold Key Quest, visit www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org or call (337) 439-2787.