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Krawfish for Kids benefits Troup County youngsters

Chefs Spencer Ellen, left, and Corey Wyble pour live crawfish into a boiling pot Saturday during the Krawfish for Kids benefit event at Nutwood Plantation on Upper Big Springs Road. The event raised money for the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia and the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Luke Comerford, 6, of LaGrange, holds up a freshly cooked crawfish Saturday at the Krawfish for Kids benefit event at Nutwood Plantation on Upper Big Springs Road. The event raised money for the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia and the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Krawfish, sausage, onions and corn wait to be eaten Saturday at the Krawfish for Kids benefit event at Nutwood Plantation on Upper Big Springs Road. The event raised money for the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia and the Southern Foodways Alliance.

LaGRANGE — The threat of rain didn’t stop dozens of people from turning out for the Krawfish for Kids benefit Saturday at Nutwood Plantation on Upper Big Springs Road.

Proceeds from the Southern-style crawfish boil benefited the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia and the Southern Foodways Alliance, a group that studies and documents diverse food cultures of the changing American South, according to its website. The event featured live music, games, activities and roughly 200 pounds of freshly cooked Louisiana shellfish, sausage and jambalaya.

“I don’t do well with having a lot of free time,” said organizer and chef Spencer Ellen. “I kind of came up with this hair-brained idea, and we managed to pull it off in three months.”

Ellen, a LaGrange native who said he organized the event because he wanted to give back to the community that gave him so much growing up, had never met Bart McFadden, the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia’s chief professional officer, before he came up with the benefit idea.

“He was immediately on board with the idea,” Ellen said. “There were a few times when I wondered if we were going to pull it off, but everything really fell into place.”

McFadden said he was pleased to partner with Ellen, who’s been working in kitchens for years and worked his way from a line cook to a chef now in Auburn, Alabama.

“There’s thousands of kids in Troup County that need a positive relationship,” McFadden said. “We want to build a team around each kid. This is a community-wide effort, and we appreciate (Ellen’s) generosity. We’d have liked for the weather to cooperate more, but the concept (of the crawfish boil) is solid.”

McFadden said he wasn’t sure Saturday how much money was raised to support the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia, but estimated that the event at least turned a profit. In addition to the ticket sales, local business sponsors contributed more than $1,500 to the event.

The operators of Nutwood Plantation also offered their property at no charge for the event, Ellen said.

Ellen said he’d like to make the Krawfish for Kids benefit a yearly event, although for now, he’ll take the left over shellfish and turn it into etouffee, a Creole dish like stew made with shellfish served over rice.

More information on the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia is available at www.facebook.com/bgcwga or by calling 706-812-9698.