Airport, depot, crawfish offer Saturday escapes
Last updated 5/3/2022 at 9:49pm
You can fly in, ride the (miniature) rails or just back up your pickup and find plenty to do this week in Orange County.
Fly-In and Drive In takes place at the Orange County Airport, Depot Day Annual Community Festival is at the Orange Train Depot and Mauriceville Crawfish Bash at the Mauriceville Community Center all beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Crawfish Bash is at 7441 Cohenour Road under a new 6,000 square foot pavilion roof featuring free crawfish and Kids Zone games for children under 12.
Chris Sowell, president of the Mauriceville Heritage Association, said more than 20,000 pounds of crawfish have been ordered for the all you can eat dining that runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Crawfish tickets for teens and adults are $35 in advance in advance and available on the website crawfishfest.org. They are $40 at the gate Saturday.
"We have 25 teams signed up to cook," he said, "and the judges will announce the winner at 6 p.m."
The Crawfish Bash had a record turnout last year, Sowell said, after the event was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides the new pavilion – which replaced a 3,600 square-foot on after its roof blew away during 2020's Hurricane Laura – improvements include the parking lot and a Friday night DJ and dancing.
The gates are open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, with crawfish and beer available along with fare from food trucks. Saturday's activity, which runs to 10 p.m., features live music.
Chris Hantz will perform from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Texas Thunder is next at 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers take the stage from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Ryan Foret and Foret Tradition wind up the day with a performance at 6:30 p.m.
Proceeds from the Crawfish Bash allow the Mauriceville Heritage Association to fund scholarships, sponsorships for the Mauriceville Youth Football Association and Orange County Livestock Association, the MHA's Senior Citizen Dinner and Mauriceville's Christmas Tree Lighting.
Depot Days are back on the spring calendar this year after rainouts pushed it to the fall in 2021.
Again, last year was the best attended edition of this annual fundraiser for the upkeep of the 1910 Southern Pacific depot.
"We love to do it for seeing the children have so much fun," said Rose Simar, manager of the depot at 1210 Green Ave.
A petting zoo, pony rides and a mini train all are musts for the families that attend this 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. event with little ones.
A balloon artist and a bouncy house add to the attraction.
Admission is free but there's a $1 charge per ride.
Door prizes provided by event sponsors include gift cards, gift baskets and a pair of bicycles.
The Orange Blossom dancers, a dance troupe for seniors, and the Orange Community Players will perform and entertain, while food and craft vendors will be stationed in and around the depot.
A historic portrait station will be available and model train sets will be on exhibit.
Simar notes that the old depot, bought and resurrected with leadership from Orange native Carrie Wolliver, was saved from the scrap heap to serve primarily as a museum spotlighting Orange history from cattle to timber to shipbuilding to petrochemicals.
Now, though, Simar says the Depot is booked every weekend, hosting "everything from gender reveal parties to funeral receptions."
Orange County Airport is hosting its second modern day Fly-In, says Missy Pillsbury, Airport Manager.
The 2019 event was an overwhelming success for visiting pilots as well as the Orange community.
"We had over 1,500 people come out for our first one," said the woman recently named Texas General Aviation Manager of the Year.
Local pilots and a many from other airports showed off their planes during the 2019 event. That will be the case again in 2022, plus there will be displays by law enforcement and the military and plane rides.
Admission is free. Food trucks will be on site, too.
"A Fly-In is not an airshow," said Ron Huebel, one of the local private pilots who helped play host. "It's just a way to show off the airport.
"We had 57 pilots who flew in for our first one."
Fly-Ins set for 2020 and 2021 were canceled because of COVID-19. But the favorable word of mouth from three years ago should make 2022 another event to remember.
Besides enticing visiting pilots with free lunch and reduced fuel prices, Pillsbury has lined up a visit by "The Ninety-Nines," an international organization of licensed women's pilots that has a mission of promoting the advance of aviation and a passion for flying."
The US Coast Guard will show off its MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and the Commemorative Air Force will offer paid rides in vintage aircraft.
Phoenyx Aviation Academy of Beaumont is offering Discovery Flights, a short introductory flight for people interested in taking steps to earn a pilot's license.
Orange County Radio Control Club will have some of its planes on display. The Orange County Sheriff's Office bullet-proof Bearcat transport will be displayed, along with firefighting equipment from Emergency Services District No. 2.
"It's amazing how much our airport is used," Huebel said. "FEMA uses it for disasters and emergency supplies. A lot of (flight) training goes on there. It has an on-site maintenance facility, Boudreaux Aviation, that does very good work.
"This is a family oriented event and admission is free. Come and see the airport."