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June 8, 2008

Day Trip: Isleton festival sticks in your craw

ISLETON -- In this delta town, all eyes will be on the tiny crustacean who becomes the guest of honor at the Isleton Crawdad Festival next weekend.

This festival, which is held for three days on Father's Day weekend each June, is celebrating its 23rd year and is the largest consumption of crawdads outside Louisiana.

The scenic riverfront community on the Sacramento River near Rio Vista welcomes more than 50,000 guests to the festival and offers them delightful music, delectable food and an abundance of down-home delta atmosphere.

Visitors can try the crusty crawdad (a close relative of the lobster). More than 24,000 pounds of the little critter -- 12 tons! -- will be boiled and enjoyed by festival patrons.

Along with the crawdads, other favorites will be the delicious Louisiana-style gumbo and spicy jambalaya. For venturesome visitors, they can even try a bit of alligator ("tastes like chicken").

The festival also offers musical treat. Bands playing jazz, blues and Cajun sounds bring the feeling of the bayou to the streets of Isleton.

Children are treated to a carnival and can get a peek at the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses.

The festival includes a mile-long marketplace where vendors offer specialty crafts, some professional services and hand-crafted items.

It's Cajun, it's crawdads -- technically, crayfish -- and it's a good time in Isleton.

WHERE: Downtown Isleton, off Highway 160 on the edge of the Sacramento River, in the heart of the delta.

WHEN: June 13-15; Friday noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

COST: $5 general admission, children 12 and under admitted free. Parking: $5 (NOTE: Admission on the first day of the festival, Friday is free to all guests.)

GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 5 or Highway 99 north. In Lodi, take Highway 12 west. Continue to Terminous Road and turn right. At Jackson Slough Road, turn right and follow Jackson Slough into Isleton. (If you cross the Sacramento River into Rio Vista, you've gone too far.)

DRIVE TIME: 1 hour, 12 minutes from Modesto (Mapquest)

MORE INFORMATION: Isleton Chamber of Commerce, 916-777-5880 or

Bee assistant librarian Karen Aiello can be reached at at or 578-2392.

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