04/21/14 — Partnership getting ready for annual boil

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Partnership getting ready for annual boil

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 21, 2014 1:46 PM

The 10th annual Lobster and Shrimp Fest, sponsored by the Wayne County Partnership for Children, will be May 2 from 2 to 6 p.m.

"The reason we started doing something like this is because with us receiving state funds, we have to raise some additional money that we can use however we see fit," said Valerie Wallace, assistant executive director of Partnership for Children. "At that time, one of the needs was providing scholarships for our child care providers to go back to school to further their education. A lobster sale was not a fundraiser that was being done anywhere around Wayne County. So we thought it would be unique."

Ms. Wallace said the fundraiser has evolved from providing scholarships for child care providers to go to school to funding things like the Partnership's kindergarten backpack project and books for child care facilities.

Ten years ago, Partnership did just lobsters, but then added shrimp to the menu. And this year, there will also be sides of corn and baked potatoes.

That first year, the event brought in $10,000, and the Partnership has raised as much as $16,000 some years.

"Our goal is to make as much as possible because with the state funding cuts, that does impact our overall operating budget," said Suzie Acree, director of program coordination and evaluation at the Partnership. "And when you have to tighten your belt, we tighten in ways that are going to give us those extras for the children. These types of fundraisers really help us."

The lobsters are caught fresh the day before they are flown to the Raleigh airport, where they are picked up by Partnership volunteers.

But it's not just dropping the lobsters and shrimp into boiling water.

"That morning we have to count it all to make sure everything is here," said Cookie Chavous, Partnership child birth educator. "The morning of is a really busy time. We have to take the lobsters and shrimp out of the bags they are shipped in and put them in mesh bags so they can be dropped into the water and brought back up. We also put cocktail sauce into containers that we'll give out. So it's an all-morning thing preparing everything."

Thomas Nevins, fiscal monitoring specialist, said the lobsters and shrimp are cooked in Old Bay seasoning and shrimp boil in 25 pots.

Mrs. Acree said a fun way to participate in the fundraiser is to have a party.

"That's a unique thing," she said. "It entails sending out invitations to your friends and family or to your work employees and saying let's all get together and have lobster together. Decide who will bring the side dishes and who will bring desserts and drinks, that sort of thing.

"One person will come and pick up all of the cooked lobsters or shrimp and take them home or they can pick them up live and cook them themselves. People have done parties in past years. They're really fun. People get some beach themes going and put the sand down and get the music going and have a real good time."

Anyone wanting to order lobsters and shrimp for a party should call Nevins at 919-735-3371 or go online. Tickets are $25 each for a 1 1/4-pound lobster or two pounds of shrimp. For an extra $5, you can also get corn and a baked potato. Tickets are available at the Partnership office, and committee members are also selling them in the community.