June 27, 2006

Past Your Bedtime: It’s the lure of the lobster that primes this party

Tail was plentiful at LobsterFest 2006, an annual party celebrating all things lobster. Not exactly the kind of tail you’d find in a Ludacris video, mind you, but delicious and dripping in butter nonetheless. Hosted each year byPhoto by Sara Havens: LobsterFest host James Brown (holding the wine, wearing the goofy hat) calls the races using a fancy PA system. the often-imitated but never-duplicated Highlands resident James Brown and his business partner Mike Greer, the party has become legend in certain circles — always anticipated, never missed. Aside from the non-stop stream of keg beer and the array of options a full bar offered up, the biggest draw was the food (all-you-can-eat lobster, seafood gumbo, corn-on-the-cob, baked beans and other picnic fare) and the fun (hourly hermit-crab races that put the Downs to shame).Photo by Sara Havens: Hermit crabs, a distant cousin of the lobster, provide the entertainment at the party. Here, two crabs race for the finish line.As Brown recalls, the genesis of LobsterFest came about during a conversation four years ago between he and Greer, both ’84 graduates of Atherton who run Kentuckiana Aquarium Service. Brown had just constructed a new deck on his house on Sils Avenue and wanted to throw a deck-warming party to show it off. “Everybody likes lobster,” he says, which is the only answer he could offer to the question, “Why?”The first year, LobsterFest attracted 70-80 curious friends and acquaintances. Brown estimates this year’s party swelled to 200-250. The festivities began around 4 p.m. and lasted well into early SundayPhoto by Sara Havens: Thomas Brown prepares the lobsters for consumption. He dismembered more than 90 for the party. morning. With only one visit from the cops and a few reminders from neighbors about the stereo’s volume, the party was an overall success, says Brown, who is already looking forward to next year: “I’m thinking we might turn it into a fund-raiser. If it keeps growing like this, it would make sense to move in that direction.”Photo by Sara Havens: LobsterFest attendees Casey Carroll and Dick Stout examine their picks for the next race.The 90 lobsters ran out before the three kegs of beer, but the vats of gumbo, along with the liquor, poured all night long. It was well after midnight when Brown put down the PA system he used for calling the hermit-crab races and took a seat. As he looked around at mostly familiar faces, he realized one thing that made him smile. He hadn’t had a damn bite of lobster.