It’s official. The Big Ass Crawfish Bash grabbed the Guinness World Record for the most crawfish served in an 8-hour period on April 1. Almost 15,000 people consumed nearly 60,000 pounds of crawfish served up by 87 boiling teams. The Bash also raised a record $100,000 for Camp Hope, a place that helps veterans and their families cope with PTSD.
Tiny Guidry had been all over Houston radio stations banging the pot, so to speak, about the coming “craw-tastrophe.” If the traffic on 1-45 south didn’t alert you, huge flocks of seagulls circling Gulf Greyhound Park that day let you know something very big was going down.
How the crawfish bash started
I’d never heard of the Big Ass Crawfish Bash before a friend started talking about it a few months ago. Where had it come from, how had it started and why were so many people going to it?
A few years ago, a funeral director, an electrician and a pipeline inspector were sitting around a fish camp on Moses Lake at Dickinson Bayou. Mark Crowder, Quentin Severin and Tiny had spent the day boiling up pots of crawfish and feeding a big bunch of friends.
Now they were relaxing over a few beers. “We ought to get everyone to make a donation to help pay for the beer and bugs,” one said. “Yeah, and anything left over, we can give to charity,” someone added.
Maybe Mark, Tiny and Quentin were overheard, or more likely, someone did some drunk dialing, because they started hearing from people interested in joining them. The Bash was born.
Monster event is born
That first year, plans for 500 pounds of crawfish grew to 3,500 pounds and then to 4,800 pounds almost overnight. Two weeks before the event, it was moved from Marks Fish Camp to Diamond Jim’s on Loop 197 in Texas City.
By year two (2016), the Bash had a logo, website, beer sponsor and 75 teams. With 9000 wristbands sold, 75 boiling teams and 35,000 pounds of crawfish, the Bash took over Highland Bayou Park. Mark, Tiny and Quentin and their volunteer friends had created a monster event and given $25,000 to charity to boot.
As the donations got bigger, the Bash foundation scrutinized charities to see where their money would go the farthest and do the most good. The three founders already had an affinity for veterans. It hit home when a veteran friend that Tiny had made on social media killed himself due to PTSD.
Camp Hope was a place for people like Tiny’s friend. Faith-based and run by David Maulsby, Camp Hope would use 100% of the Bash’s donation to provide interim housing and care for veterans and their immediate families who were coping with combat related PTSD. The Bash folks met with Maulsby, toured the camp, and realized they’d found the focus for their event.
The Bash moves to Gulf Greyhound Park
2017’s Big Ass Crawfish Bash took up over a million square feet of paved space at Gulf Greyhound Raceway. By 3pm, 14,988 wristbands were scanned. Then the scanners broke. Still the crowd poured in. The massive parking lot was full. Cars were parked four deep at the long, winding entrance to the parking kiosks and all along the road and in retail parking lots.
Teams from companies and restaurants like Bubba’s on Tiki Island (last year’s winner) boiled against community groups from San Leon and the Hitchcock Fire Department. Team FOIL from Galveston challenged people to figure out what their name stood for. “I’m local and proud of it” is the G-version. Everyone was offering you a plate of their special crawfish.
Mudbugs, Music and Mayhem
On the big Budweiser stage, Lafayette hard-country band, Doublewide, played music that made you feel like you’d wandered down some dirt back road in Acadiana. Outrageously costumed teams drummed up support to win the gloriously tacky Big Ass trophy.
Focus on the Veterans
Opposite the stage, 95-year-old Col. Joe McPhail (USMC-Retired) kept the focus on the veterans. Col. McPhail, a Marine pilot who flew missions in WW2 and Korea, signed autographs and took pictures with the crowd in the USAA tent. He bought home the heroic exploits that the quiet man or woman sitting next to you may have done while in uniform.
Because big, lasting, important things can be won by the efforts of one brave man or woman. Just like a crazy, wonderful, funky event can start by three guys relaxing with a couple of beers. Just check it out below.