HARLINGEN — She stumbled across it on Instagram, and thought it was a great idea.
“I thought it would be something fun to do in the Valley,” said Kim Ramentol as she munched on a huge plate of crawfish.
She and her husband Paul were enjoying a fun afternoon at the third annual Ales and Tails Fest fundraiser yesterday afternoon held by the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce.
About 600 people attended the event at the Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum for a meal of boiled crawfish, potatoes, sausage and corn on the cob.
The event benefitted the Harlingen Professional Firefighters Association Local 3404 Emergency Assistance Fund.
“The proceeds go locally to our Harlingen residents that have been affected either by fire or in a car accident,” said Vanessa Camacho, vice-president of the Chamber.
“What our Harlingen Association does is give them assistance right away as opposed to them having to wait. They can help them with hotel stay, clothing, toiletries right on the spot.”
The hungry supporters began filling tables covered with red or checkered tablecloths beneath the shade of spreading ash trees. A guitarist sang and played as they enjoyed the fresh dinner and cold beer in a brisk wind that cast feathery shadows along brick walkways and bare ground.
“We’re cooking 1,200 pounds of crawfish,” said Josh Fields, past chairperson of the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce.
Crawfish, potatoes, corn and sausage cooked in three boilers the Chamber purchased last year for the event.
“These are old family recipes from various people,” Fields said. “We’ll tweak it for different tastes. Some people like it a little spicier, some maybe not so spicy, so we try to vary it a little bit.”
He was delighted by the turnout.
“It’s turned into one of our biggest fundraisers for the Chamber,” he said. “It’s a great event.”
It’s gotten bigger every year since it began. The first year, Camacho said, about 400 people showed up. Last year it was about 500, and this year about 600 people came in. Tickets had sold for $40, and they were still taking walk-ins yesterday for $55.
Everyone seemed to think the price was right.
“It’s very delicious,” said Alan Barrera, 27.
“Whoever made it should get a trophy,” he said. “This is a good way to get the community together.”