It was where Louisiana cajun flair meets good North Carolina southern style at the 15th annual Smoky Mountain Shrimp Boil held Saturday, Aug. 13, at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.
The meal consisted of boiled shrimp with either cocktail sauce or butter, kielbasa, whole red potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, cajun jambalaya, bread and pie. Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Rick Westerman wished to express his special thanks to the people at Cajun Connection for cooking the jambalaya. All of the other cooking was done by Habitat for Humanity volunteers. The Franklin High School cheerleaders were the servers for the evening, making certain that everyone had enough to drink, getting plates refilled and serving dessert. The cheerleaders have made the Habitat for Humanity a group project for the past three years.
Westerman commented that “the cheerleaders have become the backbone of the Shrimp Boil as far as labor is concerned.” The cheerleaders not only help with the fundraising, but they also assist with the painting on Habitat homes.
“This was our first year but we will definitely be regular goers from now on,” declared Ashley Matthews, manager of the RBC Bank in Franklin. Her whole family attended the event and, according to Matthews, only left so her husband wouldn’t eat all of the shrimp. “Habitat is a fantastic, worthy cause and is going to support people in Macon County.”
Habitat for Humanity will be using the funds from the Shrimp Boil to improve existing homes that have fallen into disrepair and are also building a few new homes. Matthews said that she was a former member of the board for the Habitat for Humanity. “It brings such joy to people,” she said.
The people that will be getting new homes will get them at reduced costs and those that benefit from the repair work of Habitat for Humanity have to also put what Matthews calls “sweat equity” into these homes as well. They have to work on their houses along with the Habitat workers. “That gives them a sense of pride in the work.”
John Mason has lived in Franklin for 25 years and has attended the Shrimp Boil for six years. Mason said that he really enjoyed the food. “They have yet to let me down,” he commented.
The Shrimp Boil was also a step back in time for entertainment. As people tucked into their shrimp dinner, they listened to the greatest hits of Elvis and other headliners of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Elvis was accompanied by the Gospel Greats and Gem City performing the King’s most beloved gospel and rock hits. Sonny and Cindy from A Touch of Class also provided entertainment by performing the best music from past decades.
The shrimp eating contest was not as impressive as in years past.
Westerman jokingly said that it was due to the fact that Commissioner Ronnie Beale was not present to participate. “Everyone seems to be more competitive when he is there,” he said. “Ronnie has won the last two years and I guess he won by default this year.” There were no men that wished to compete in this year’s eating competition, but three competitors checked in to vie for the Princess title. The winner was seven-year-old Madison Hatch. The title of Shrimp Queen went to FHS Cheerleader Molly Haithcock.
Habitat for Humanity estimates that, in order to feed an average of 500 supporters at the Shrimp Boil, 370 lbs. of shrimp is needed, as well as 70 lbs. of kielbasa, four bushels of red potatoes, 500 ears of corn, 300 lbs. of jambalaya, 30 loaves of bread, 48 lbs. of butter, 13 gallons of cocktail sauce, 100 lemons and limes, 58 pies and 60 gallons of tea and lemonade. These figures only go to show how much work is put into just the food aspect of this event.
Westerman says that there were around 350 people that came to the Shrimp Boil and although Westerman did not have final results, he is hoping that they beat last year’s amount of $9,500.
The next major project on Habitat for Humanity’s list is to coordinate the disaster recovery process in Joplin, Missouri for the next two years. Westerman, will be working with other affiliates and faith-based organizations to make the recovery possible.
Anyone wanting more information about Habitat for Humanity or how to donate to the cause, can contact their local office at (828)369-3716.