The Syracuse Crawfish Festival is a fun, family-friendly event held the first Saturday in May in the heart of downtown Syracuse. It holds the bragging rights of being the first festival of the season, offering authentic Cajun Music, lively dancing, crafters, vendors and an endless assortment of delicious food otherwise only offered on the Gulf Coast. It is organized and executed by a well-established local nonprofit organization, Operation Northern Comfort (ONC), a group of skilled volunteers who work tirelessly year-round to serve the needs of our community.

This festival acts as a fundraiser to provide operating dollars for ONC's mission, "empowering and giving hope to those in need." The roots of ONC, originally known as "Operation Southern Comfort," were planted following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a small group of brave Central New Yorkers donated their time and energy to travel to New Orleans and aid in the cleanup effort. Since then, there have been 66 trips to provide relief to areas devastated by natural disasters. We have already made our first trip of 2024. In January we traveled to Buffalo, NY to continue repairs at a church. We will organize and go where we are needed when we are needed.

The individuals behind ONC pride themselves on their projects, including 5 -home rebuilds, over 90 ramp installations, 14 lift installations and hundreds of home improvements. ONC is responsible for the Desks4Kids Initiative, which saw over 1,500 desks build for children in need of dedicated in home learning spaces, as well as Bookshelves4Kids, a literary initiative to provide children with books and bookshelves. To date we have built and delivered over 400 book shelves. Our goal is to continue providing services for our community and develop new projects in accordance with the needs our local people.

The 17th Annual Syracuse Crawfish Festival has free admission and will feature five local bands that will take the stage to bring live musical entertainment to attendees. This year, we will have a Native American dance performance as well as a performance by dancers from PGR Inc. We are proud to present over 50 small business crafters and vendors who will offer their products and creations for sale. This festival provides free space for other local nonprofits, giving them the opportunity to distribute their information and sell items for their own fundraising efforts. DJ's from local radio station and media sponsor "Inner Harbor Media" will introduce the bands and the annual Mascot Dance Off, where Syracuse's favorite mascots will compete for the title of best dancer and a donation to the charity of their choice. The festival includes a kid's area where children will enjoy face painting, a magician, games and kid-friendly food options.

The star of the show is our fresh crawfish and shrimp flown up from the Gulf Coast the day before our festival and prepared by our Louisiana-trained boilers. Event-goers are offered the unique experience to talk with boilers and learn the proper way to eat crawfish. There are also opportunities to indulge in authentic Cajun cuisines, including crawfish mac and cheese, Jambalaya, Gumbo, Bread Pudding and Beignets. Festival attendees may choose from regional favorites, including Hofmann's hotdogs, Gianelli Sausage, pulled pork, walking tacos and New England clams. Eight local food trucks will feature their specialty drinks and dishes.

The 17th Annual Syracuse Crawfish Festival will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2024 from 11 am-7 pm in Clinton Square, with 100% of profits earned to fund future ONC projects. ONC is a 100% volunteer run organization.