Sunday afternoon was Crane Alley’s 6th Annual Crawfish Boil in downtown Urbana. It was hot and sticky outside, but there were plenty people in line for the day’s event. The patio was packed and inside was also full, but we managed to find a small table outside close to all the action.
Victory Brewing Company was represented outside with a huge truck with six delicious tap options ($5-$6), in addition to Hurricanes and Three Olive’s Grape for $4. Right away I went to the line for beer to try to beat the heat since our server hadn’t come with water yet. I tried the Victory White Monkey for the first time. It is aged in white wine barrels which gives it a distinct flavor. I was really happy with my choice. It was the perfect summer beer: light and a little fruity, with some oak-y notes to make you feel like you’re drinking beer and not water.
We bought tickets a few days before the event, so we saved $5 each, which was a nice incentive to buy early. We walked up to the tent serving the goods and they took our tickets and gave us wristbands to wear for our all-you-can-eat status. They had the area pretty well organized and clean, which is pretty impressive for an outside food event. The food tent was also located directly next to the drink truck, which was very convenient since we didn’t necessarily have to wait for our server.
The Crane Alley employees loaded us up with two paper boats: one filled with boiled corn, sausage, potatoes, green bell peppers, and onions, and another filled with bright red, whole crawfish. Then we were immediately handed another boat of crawfish, since they were just about to run out, they wanted to make sure we had at least two boats. While I understand these types of things happen, I think 3:30 is a little early to have run out since the event was meant to be all-you-can-eat until 6 p.m. I did see a few people getting refunded their tickets, so that was at least an option. It is very hard to plan for an event like this, so maybe they’re getting more popular than they had thought! It’s a good problem to have, but a problem none the less.
I started my system of crackling and opening the tiny exoskeleton for a small bit of meat. It was juicy. It was delicious. It was so. much. work. Granted, these events are for the atmosphere, and it definitely had that. The side fixings were lacking a little oomph. They tasted… well, boiled. I could have used some more seasoning, or something to soak up some juices, or maybe something crunchy in there. Some sourdough bread would haven been nice.
All the tables were talking to each other and happy to be there. It was obvious that summer has arrived and C-U was taking part in what it had to offer. I’m happy we went and joined in the festivities, and even saw a few friends while we were there. It’s great to try something that is a special treat and we would really like to come back next year, but we’ll definitely get there early!
Article photos by the author.
Gallery photo and top photo courtesy of Sam Logan.