BY: Wesley Martin
“It was a beautiful weekend,” said Adelene Lovelace, executive director of Fiesta of Five Flags. “We were watching for the rain but it didn’t come.”
City residents had a chance to enjoy the annual Pensacola Crawfish Festival this past weekend, May 4 – 6, held at downtown Pensacola’s Bartram Park.
Presented by the Fiesta of Five Flags in conjunction with Coastal Bank and Trust, the Crawfish Festival has been a local tradition for the last 30 years.
The Fiesta of Five Flags is an annual summer festival designed to promote tourism in the Pensacola area. It also serves to recognize the flags of five governments that have flown over Pensacola: Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and the United States.
“The crawfish festival was actually started by one of our volunteers, Gene Pereira, who will be the chairman of our seafood festival this year,” Lovelace said.
Pereira, a Louisiana native who previously owned the now defunct bar, Shanahans, sold the Crawfish Festival to Fiesta of Five Flags when he sold his business.
Lovelace says because of Pensacola’s close proximity to Louisiana, many cultural influences from the Bayou State infiltrates our local environment.
“We have all learned in Pensacola to enjoy that [Cajun] cuisine because New Orleans is so close,” Lovelace said.
Lovelace, who participated in the Fiesta’s annual parade during her elementary days in 1950’s, “One time I was green pea and one time I was a carrot,” says they made a few musical changes to the Crawfish Festival this year.
“In the past we’ve always had all Zydeco music and performers,” she said. “This year we tried mixing up the music a little bit … some [performers] were a little country, some were kind of southern rock.
According to Lovelace, the Crawfish Festival and the Seafood Festival are two main fundraisers for the Fiesta of Five Flags.
With the funds the Fiesta receives from events, they donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities.
“We have given to Gulf Coast Kid’s House and we have given to Rebuild Northwest Florida,” Lovelace said. “Our contribution changes based on the needs of the community.”
Additionally, earnings from both festivals fund a vast array of Fiesta events like the Children’s Treasure Hunt, held on May 19 at Bayview Park.
“We’ll have free face-painting, free obstacle-courses, free entertainment, free lunch – everything is free,” Lovelace said.
For more information on Fiesta of Five Flags and upcoming events, please visit: fiestaoffiveflags.org