History

Secret Order of Crawdaddies, give or take a few.

The Village Crawfish Festival event is organized and hosted by the Secret Order of Crawdaddies Inc. a 501(c)(3) organization, headquartered in Prairie Village, Kansas. The SOC is committed to supporting Kansas City area children’s charity (raising funds and awareness of), providing a unique function for the community and enjoying fraternity among its members.

Simple Beginnings: It all started when a couple of SOC founding members were craving boiled crawfish back in 2001. These two crawfish enthusiasts held their first annual boil inviting 30 people to share a hundred pounds of live crawfish flown from New Orleans to Kansas City for the party. The challenge was their friends didn’t know how to peel the little crustaceans so a lot of time was spent giving peeling lessons. Those same friends are now skilled peelers and connoisseurs. Each year the invitation list grows as the word spreads.

Supporting Local Charities: The Crawfish Festival is a single fund raising event for the purpose of supporting local Kansas City children’s charities. In 2008 the proceeds went to Children’s Mercy Cancer Center Auxiliary. In 2009 and 2010 the proceeds went to Head Start of Shawnee Mission. In 2011 the proceeds went to Head Start of Shawnee Mission and Kansas City Young Audiences. In 2012 the proceeds went to Gillis and Kansas City Young Audiences. In 2013 the proceeds went to Gillis. In 2014 the proceeds went to Head Start of Shawnee Mission. In 2015 we raised over $40,000 for reStart. In 2016 we beat that and raised over $50,000. In 2017 we raised over $35,000 for reStart. That’s $125,000 for reStart over three years! In 2018 we raised $28,000 for Kansas City Community Gardens (KCCG). In 2019 we raised $40,000 for Growing Futures Early Education Center. 2020 was postponed because of Covid-10. And in 2021 all the proceeds will go to Sunflower House! 

Since 2019, the Village Crawfish Festival has been co-hosted by Overland Park South Rotary.

19th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

$35,000 raised for Sunflower House!

The Secret Order of Crawdaddies’ 19th Annual Village Crawfish Festival, co-hosted by Overland Park South Rotary, for the benefit of Sunflower House, a place to tell.

For the first time in 19 years we did not gather under the stars to pinch tails, suck heads, laugh and dance the night away with friends, co-workers, neighbors and family. Who would of thought a little backyard boil would have grown to the proportions it has.

We hope this note finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

There are rumors that many 19th Annual Village Crawfish Festival sponsors are still stepping up and we hope to have a check presentation for the Sunflower House soon.

Those rumors were true!

And if you find yourself in need of a Zydeco fix you can always listen to Ernest James Zydeco on Spotify, snatch up a CD or even catch him live on Lynn’s Beautician Blues Show on KKFI, 90.1 FM Tuesdays at 3:00pm. 

Until next year, be smart, be safe and be well as we will party on!

“Laisser le bon temps rouler!”

18th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

$40,000 raised for Growing Futures Early Education Center!

The Gods looked down on us all, this past Saturday in May, and bestowed upon us a most perfect time for a Blessed Crawfish Festival. Can I hear a Hallelujah! “Hallelujah!” Can I HEAR a Hallelujah! “Hallelujah!!!” Ahhhh, thank you.

Ya, it’s about the Crawfish being spicy, the beer being cold, the beans and rice, veggies, pulled pork being just right and the Beignets (da Rotary killed ’em) being warm and powdered with care.

Ya, it’s about the early evening acoustic music of “Stuck Behind a Semi” wafting through the tents, helping make pleasurable conversation, and setting the relaxing atmosphere that a Crawfish boil is.

Sure, it’s about having a Crawfish Queen like Nicole Yates who graced us with her bright smile and engaging energy. And, it’s about a band like Ernest James Zydeco, filling us with their magical sound and bringing us to our feet, making us boogie all night long.

And ya, it’s about companies, families, volunteers and guests investing back into the community we share, so Growing Futures can continue to make a difference to some very important children and families.

Oh, and ya, it’s about having Ima (Ima Mannequin) stand for hours on end, without that smile ever leaving her face, not minding all the arms wrapped around her shoulders and the beer/wine fueled sweet nothing’s whispered in her ear.

da Crawdaddies, Overland Park South Rotary Club & Growing Futures Early Education Center all hope y’all had as good a time as it seemed like you were having. ‘Cause by God, we sure did. Thanks for helping to raised $40,000 for Growing Futures. Let’s do it all again in May ’20, book it cher!

18th Annual Village Crawfish Queen

Nicole Yates, Photo courtesy of Cindy Easton

17th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

$28,000 raised for Kansas City Community Gardens!

The crawfish were spicy from the get-go.

The beer was cold all night long.

The red beans & rice were, “best ever!”

The juicy pulled pork & whole hog all gone.

The bundt cakes & bread pudding were da bomb.

The music made ya move and sounded great, love me some horns.

The lovely Crawfish Queen was there for every photo op request.

The weather gods played nice and the sponsors stepped up!

The volunteers came early and stayed late.

da crawdaddies could never pull this off without them on the plate.

And the crowd, the crowd came; you ate, you drank, you danced and you laughed. You bought all the t-shirts but three. You bought so many raffle tickets we had to start over again. You bought all the Gator hats!!!

And you did it all in fun & in support of a local Greater Kansas City charity.

You raised $28,000 for The Kansas City Community Gardens.

da Crawdaddies tip a glass to you all, Sláinte Mhaith!

Thank you all!

17th Annual Village Crawfish Queen

Melanie Shaner, Miss Kansas USA, Photo courtesy of Kristy Crawford

16th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

$35,000 raised for reStart Inc.!

16th Annual Village Crawfish Queen

Nikol Straws, Photo courtesy of Cindy Easton

15th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

$50,000 raised for reStart Inc.!

15th Annual Village Crawfish Queens! Ya, we had two!

Nikol Straws and Kacie McDonnell. Photo courtesy of Cindy Easton

14th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

$40,000 raised for reStart Inc.!

14th Annual Village Crawfish Queen

Loren Halifax, FOX 4 News Kansas City, The 14th Annual Village Crawfish Festival Queen. Photo courtesy of Cindy Easton

13th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

$30,000 raised for Head Start of Shawnee Mission (Now Growing Futures Early Education Center)

Created with GIMP

As your stomachs (and livers) have finally relaxed after the 13th Annual Village Crawfish Festival, the Crawdaddies’ brains have been buzzing planning for 2015!

We wanted to boast that more than 600 people packed the St. Pius X grounds on what turned out to be wonderful night for some good music, good friends and GREAT food!

But the thing we are the most proud of is how everyone came together to support a great cause. Head Start of Shawnee Mission received a check from the Crawdaddies for more than $30,000! The much needed financial support will support their two primary programs; the Early Education Program and the Family Services Program directly benefiting the children and families they serve.

We also wanted to thank FOX4’s Michelle Bogowith, as she carried on our historic, critical, crazy serious tradition of being a perfect Crawfish Queen.

Lastly, but not least, thanks to our great sponsors, as without their help, the crazy crawfish carnival wouldn’t have happened.

13th Annual Village Crawfish Queen

Michelle Bogowith, Mid Morning and Noon Meteorologist for WDAF Fox 4 in Kansas City, 13th Annual Village Crawfish Queen Photo courtesy of Cindy Easton

12th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

Crawfish Festival Raises $31,000 for Gillis!

Metropolitan Kansas City’s leading Cajun party, the Village Crawfish Festival, raised $31,000 for Gillis at its 12th annual event last month.

Prairie Village, KS – infoZine – The fundraising total again topped all previous annual totals and exceeded $100,000 in money raised over the festival’s history. The money went to Gillis to help with its mission of advocacy for at-risk families and children.

The event had a new location this year at St. Pius X Church in Mission, KS. Good weather, music by The Clementines and Ernest James Zydeco, 1,000 pounds each of crawfish and barbecue made the night a record setter.

“Being in a new venue this year got us out of our comfort zone,” says Steve Coon, one of VCF’s founders. “We couldn’t have asked for a better experience. We raised a lot of money, and I think everyone had a great time.”

Karli Ritter, WDAF meteorologist, served as queen of this year’s festival. She’s a Florida native and spent time in Alabama, so she was versed on the time honored tradition of the crawfish festival queen. In addition, she shared the master of ceremony duties.

12th Annual Village Crawfish Queen
Karli Ritter, WDAF meteorologist. Photo courtesy of Lyndsie O Coon

11th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

Village Crawfish Festival Raises $28,000 for Greater Kansas City Children’s Charities!

It’s been a few weeks since Ernest James Zydeco left the bandstand following its encore, and the last crawfish was eaten, but the final tally is now in from May’s Village Crawfish Festival.

Kansas City, MO – infoZine – The festival raised $28,000, the most in its 11-year history. The money raised will go to Gillis and Kansas City Young Audiences to help further their mission in helping local youth. The final figure is a $2,000 increase over the amount announced the night of the event.

This year’s festival experienced growth in every aspect of its fundraising efforts. Ticket sales, raffle ticket sales, sponsorship and in-kind sponsorship all increased significantly in 2012.

“Each year our event gets better and better,” says Steve Coon, one of VCF’s founders. “Our main goal is to ensure that everyone has a great time. After that, we want to raise as much money for our charities as possible.”

Gillis is a first-time beneficiary in 2012. Last year, Kansas City Young Audiences was able to use the funds to provide arts programs to 7,500 at 30 area schools.

10th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

Authentic Louisiana Cajun Crawfish Party Raises Money for Charity

Village Crawfish Festival’s Cajun atmosphere aids two local charities

Prairie Village, KS – Beautiful weather, food, fun and dancing drew an estimated 600 people to last weekend’s 10th Annual Village Crawfish Festival in Prairie Village.

The event raised more than $19,000 for two beneficiaries: Head Start of Shawnee Mission and Kansas City Young Audiences. Festival attendees dug into 600 pounds of crawfish and more than 400 pounds of barbecued pork and danced to Ernest James Zydeco.
“Every year, the goal is to make sure that everyone has a great time,” said Dr. Brock Exline, one of the festival’s founders. “Based on the number of people on the dance floor, this year was no exception.”

In addition to gate receipts, funds were raised from five sponsors, Midland Loan Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, KC Veterinary Care, Baron BMW and BlueScope Steel. A number of companies provided in-kind donations, which significantly reduced operating budget and added more funds to help the two charities. Those sponsors are listed below.

Boulevard Brewing Company, Rimann’s Liquor, Central States Beverage, Cargill, Triumph Foods, McGonigle’s Market, Bledsoe’s Rental, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Farm to Market Bread, BRGR, Meat Processing Systems, Eastside/Westside Market, Cosentino’s Price Chopper, Cathedral Square Brewery, Graham Greene, Jeff Tamblyn, Corporate Filmmaker; KCServers and infoZine.

9th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

Village Crawfish Festival Generates Big Donation to Head Start!

Soggy crawfish party, food, fun and music aids Head Start of Shawnee Mission

Rain didn’t keep more than 600 people from partying New Orleans style at the 9th Annual Village Crawfish Festival on April 24. The event raised $18,500 for Head Start of Shawnee Mission.

What began nine years ago as a neighborhood party has become a source of undesignated funding (donations that are not earmarked for a specific program and can be used toward operating expenses) for Head Start of Shawnee Mission. Festival attendees put the fun in fundraising by consuming nearly 700 pounds of crawfish and more than 400 pounds of barbecued pork and danced to Ernest James Zydeco. Remaining food was donated to City Union Mission.

“The weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits,” said Steve Coon, one of the festival’s founders. “We appreciate the support of our sponsors, particularly Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Midland Loan Services and Boulevard Brewing Co.”

This year’s total exceeded last year’s amount, which also went to Head Start of Shawnee Mission. Part of the additional proceeds came from a raffle of items donated by local merchants, which raised more than $1,000.

Local volunteers, including members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and a number of Head Start of Shawnee Mission staff served food, cleaned up and kept the party going.

On a soggy night, many of the revelers spent much of their time in the band tent, dancing to Ernest James Zydeco, which again provided the proper music for a Louisiana-style party. Prairie Village Mayor Ronald L. Shaffer was among those enjoying the food and fun.

“The food was great, the music was great. Rain or shine, it was an outstanding party,” Shaffer said. “This is the kind of neighborhood spirit that makes Prairie Village a great place to live.”

Head Start of Shawnee Mission now has additional funding during a challenging economy. The organization’s waiting list has grown from about 250 a year ago to 360.

“This is a great event to be part of, and we really thank the organizers of the Village Crawfish Festival,” said Terrie VanZandt-Travis, executive director of Head Start of Shawnee Mission. “This will help a lot of local families who are in need.”

In the photo: Crawdaddy Jon Ratliff; Mary Kay Roberts, Development Coordinator of Head Start of Shawnee Mission; Terrie VanZandt-Travis, Executive Director of Head Start of Shawnee Mission; and Crawdaddy Brian Short. Photo credit: Graham Greene.
8th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

Village Crawfish Festival A Huge Success

The Crawdaddies raised $15,000 for Head Start of Shawnee Mission, the SOC’s selected children’s charity.

Greater Kansas City came out in style, bringing family and friends from as far away as Wisconsin and the state of Washington. Over 500 folks shared an evening that threaten rain but only brought smiles, as neighbors and friends gathered to celebrate. Copious amounts of Crawfish, BBQ, roasted pig, potatoes, mushrooms, corn, beer and wine were consumed in grand Cajun style (elbow to elbow, pass the napkins please).

The evening’s music started with Dan Mesh and World Wide Hoodoo. There was dancing late into the night to the tunes of Ernest James Zydeco.

Mary Kay Roberts, Development Coordinator of Head Start of Shawnee Mission (left of center) receives symbolic check from Steve Coon and the Secret Order of Crawdaddies.
7th Annual Village Crawfish Festival

The Secret Society of Crawdaddies raised $7000 benefiting Children’s Mercy Hospital Cancer Center Saturday night at St. Ann’s Church.

“It was a perfect night for an event like this” said Steve Coon, one of the founding members of the SOC. “We boiled 300 pounds of crawfish, roasted an entire pig and barbequed 100 pounds of brisket for a very hungry crowd” Coon said. Two bands provided live entertainment – Earnest James and the Zydeco Jubilee and Worldwide Hoodo.

The event started 7 years ago when two Prairie Village families held the first annual crawfish boil for 30 people in their backyard just for fun. This year it has become a significant fundraiser serving over 250 people. “Our goal is to continue expanding this event each year for a local charity” said Dr. Brock Exline, co-founding member of the SOC. “We love the Cajun culture- the food, the music and most of all the intense desire to “pass a good time” with neighbors and friends. The majority of folks who came to our event are from the Prairie Village area, although we are beginning to expand out into all of Kansas City.