TUPELO – The weather cooperated Saturday for the second NOleput festival in downtown Tupelo.
Overcast skies and a breeze kept folks cool as they ate boiled crawfish and listened as 18 bands performed on three separate stages into the evening.
The crowds were slow to arrive at the New Orleans and Mardi Gras-themed event, many waiting until mid-afternoon. Robert Sanders and Penny Lane of Tupelo said they came for the crawfish, the music and a chance to go to a live event. She wished the crawfish had a little more bite.
“They’re not spicy enough for me,” said Lane. “If you go to New Orleans, your lips should be burning.”
“She thinks you should have to drink something after every bite,” said Sanders.
Rob Leslie of Romie’s Catering started cooking the crawfish at 11 a.m. in a huge kettle that holds about 200 pounds of mudbugs at a time. He brought 700 pounds of crawfish and expected to sell out by late afternoon.
There were also vendors selling Cajun cuisine as well as traditional festival fare. Stevie and Courtney Shaw of the Tupelo-based Little Popper brought their gourmet-flavored popcorn and even had a couple tailored just for the event.
“We have one colored green, gold and purple for Mardi Gras,” said Courtney Shaw. “We also created a peanut butter and banana popcorn just for this. People like it.”
NOleput is put on by Tupelo Parks & Recreation and raises money for the annual Fourth of July celebration, which will return to Ballard Park this year.
“If we can raise $5,000, that will be great,” said Park & Rec Director Alex Farned. “It costs a lot of money to do the Fourth so anything we raise today will help offset the costs.”