Crane Alley's annual Crawfish Boil has been such a big success in years past that this year they had even more crawfish shipped overnight from Louisiana — one hundred pounds more to be exact. For $23 dollars a ticket ($28 day of event) ticket holders got all-you-can-eat crawfish until it sold out. The restaurant was pouring cold Half Acre beer out in the beer garden, too. Last year people came out in droves for the celebration of this muddy water delicacy, and this year was no different.

When I arrived at around 11:30 a.m. with my family in tow, the long line to get our bracelets for the Crawfish Boil was already out the door. After about a 15 minute wait we got inside and got our bracelets from the hostess. She looked like she could have used a helper or two. She directed us to the alley to join the line for our crawfish feast. One very noticeable difference from last year, other than the $3 ticket increase, was the heavenly weather. Last year we were boiling in line in the alley, and this year it felt like we were standing in a tunnel of cool gentle breeze. The lines to get the boats of crawfish also moved much faster this year. They added a second serving line, and this was lucky because our 2 year old was already getting sleepy. The closer we got to the front of the line, the stronger the smells of spicy andouille sausage and succulent crawfish became. My eyes feasted on the vibrant colors around me. The flashy red crawfish, vivid green peppers, and bright yellow corn on the cob were mouthwatering. When our turn was up, the servers greeted us with joyful smiles and generously loaded our boats with corn on the cob, green peppers, onions, sausages, potatoes, and most importantly, the crawfish.They handed over the heavy boats and I wafted the fragrant smells up to my nose in delight. I couldn't wait to devour all that was before me.

We hunted for a table out front, in the alley, and out back with no luck. People were saving huge tables by holding them with their keys, cellphones and sunglasses. This frustrated me to no end, but what can you do? Eventually, we ended up inside and immediately began to dig into our long awaited feast.

The slices of andouille sausage packed a good punch of spice, and was just as good as last year. The chunks of potatoes were cooked perfectly, seasoned well and beautifully tender. The sweet corn on the cob was juicy and flavorful. The shells were a shiny red and when I cracked into the tails and popped the tender crawfish meat into my mouth, it was deliciously juicy and spicy.

The atmosphere that surrounded this event was vibrant and full of joy and laughter. Groups of friends, fathers and sons, first dates, and families with small children all mingled together in celebration of good food and genuine togetherness. I also have to mention the weather again, because it could not have been more perfect. The bright blue Midwest sky was a gorgeous backdrop for the white fluffy clouds, and the soft breeze was soothingly gentle and cool. If I had not been with my kiddo, I could have just hung out in the alley all afternoon and evening downing crawfish and cold beer. Maybe next year I’ll get a sitter.

I highly recommend this event for foodies, families and beer drinkers alike. Make sure to look out for dates and tickets to next year’s Crane Alley Crawfish Boil. You wont want to miss it!

All photos by Rebecca Wells.