Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil

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The Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil (originally Beam's Crawfish Boil) was an annual music festival sponsored for nine years by Schaeffer Eye Center. It was begun in 1986 as a backyard party hosted by former HealthSouth executive and Shreveport native Aaron Beam. It soon outgrew the Beams' home and over the years the event underwent numerous changes.


The first Crawfish Boil was held at the home of Aaron and Phyllis Beam with invited guests enjoying 50 pounds of crawfish.


In 1994, Beam partnered with Jack Schaeffer, marking the first Schaeffer Eye Center Beam's Crawfish Boil. The festival was held in the Lakeview district and donations totalling $15,0000 were raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.


UAB's Comprehensive Cancer Center became the second official beneficiary and a suggested $2 donation was requested.


15,000 pounds of crawfish were prepared by festival chef Barry Gerald.


The inaugural "Crawfish Crawl" 5K run had 300 participants. George Rodrigue created the first of three "Blue Dog" posters for the event.


The festival was moved from Lakeview to Pepper Place and raised $100,000 for charity.


Crawfish Boil 2000.jpg

The festival moved again, this time to the site of the future Railroad Park at 1st Avenue South and 17th Street. 20,000 pounds of crawfish were prepared for 51,000 attendees.


Aaron Beam ended his association with the event, which was renamed the Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil and held on May 12.


The 2002 Crawfish Boil, headlined by Tonic, benefited Camp Smile-A-Mile, and the Tanner Center for Multiple Sclerosis. Bethanne Hill provided the poster art.


For the first time the event expanded to two days with 17 performing acts. The event actually lost money as rain swamped the event on the first night during a performance by the Village People. In addition to the 2002 beneficiaries, festival proceeds were shared with the Birmingham Junior League.


Clear Channel-owned Pace Concerts came on board as manager of the festival. Ticket prices increased, but so did the popularity of the performers. Record crowds turned out for Sister Hazel, Cowboy Mouth and Collective Soul on May 7 & 8.


Once again, record attendance as 40,000 turned out for Seether, Shinedown, The Wallflowers, Drivin' n Cryin', Tonic and Hootie & the Blowfish. Proceeds went to Camp Smile-A-Mile, Magic Moments and Lyrics for Life. A $5,000 donation was given to Camp Smile-A-Mile from the proceeds.


The 2006 event was held on May 5 & 6 at the Railroad Park site. Beginning that year the production was officially owned by the "Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation", and produced by Red Mountain Entertainment. Performers included People in Planes, Gin Blossoms, Cowboy Mouth, Sister Hazel, Blues Traveler, American Minor, Sanders Bohlke, Jason Mraz, P.U.S.A., Better than Ezra, P.O.D. and Live. The Festival's main beneficiary was Camp Smile-A-Mile.


The 2007 event was held on May 4 & 5 at the Railroad Park site. Performers included Operator, Cracker, The Spin Doctors, Akon, Hinder, Cheap Trick, Soul Asylum, Fuel, Papa Roach, Collective Soul and the Barenaked Ladies. Tickets were $15 in advance or $20 at the gate, with VIP passes available for $60.


Due to construction at the Railroad Park site, the 2008 Crawfish Boil moved to vacant land adjoining the 2200-2300 blocks of Richard Arrington, Jr Boulevard North near the BJCC, the future site of the Uptown entertainment district.

Pop singer Fergie headlined the event, along with Three Doors Down, T-Pain, Flo Rida, Gavin DeGraw, Southern Culture on the Skids, Seether, Corey Smith, Candlebox, Carney and Rue Melo. Day passes were $20 in advance or $25 at the door. VIP access was available in advance for $60. Crawfish cost extra at $10 per plate.

Scores of festival-goers were inconvenienced when their cars were towed from a parking lot owned by Integral Development, managers of the Park Place Apartments, on Friday night. A Birmingham Parking Authority employee was arrested and fired for collecting money from people parking in the private lot.


The 2009 festival was held May 1 & 2 in the same location as 2008. Snoop Dogg and 311 were headliners. Other performers included Jason Mraz, LL Cool J, Katy Perry, All-American Rejects, Shinedown, Everclear, Shiny Toy Guns, Saving Abel, and Filter.


The 2010 festival was held April 30 and May 1 at The Uptown (BJCC) site. Headliners were Goo Goo Dolls and Alice in Chains. Other performers included Akon, B-52s, Jason Derulo, Jay Sean, Seether, Fuel, Theory of a Deadman, The Rocket Summer, and Train. Attendance was estimated at 45,000.


The 2011 festival was held April 29 and April 30 at the same site near the BJCC as the previous 3 years. Organizers stated that the festival would not move back to the Railroad Park site. Headliners were Weezer and Stone Temple Pilots. Other performers included DJ Logic, Drivin N Cryin, Sublime with Rome, Cee Lo Green, Kopek, Cold, Cage the Elephant, Buckcherry, and Nelly. Day passes were $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Weekend passes were $45 in advance. VIP access was available for $75 per day. Crawfish cost extra at $10 per plate. New for 2011 was a 28-foot tall DJ booth, intended to add to the party atmosphere and keep the crowd entertained between performances.


In 2012 the festival remained at its BJCC site for the May 4-5 weekend. Headliners included Jane's Addiction, The Cult, Megadeth, Lupe Fiasco, Wiz Khalifa, Childish Gambino, The Head and the Heart, and Snoop Dogg. Single day passes remained $30 while the weekend general admission pass was $49.50. VIP tickets were $75 per day or $140 for the weekend. A "silent rock show" was broadcast between acts.


For 2013 the festival was scaled back to one day, May 4, and was held adjacent to the completed Uptown entertainment district. Headliners included Train, Flo Rida, Gary Allan, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and Banditos. Tickets were $10 in advance, or $75 for a VIP package. Approximately 16,800 people attended the event.

After the 2013 festival, the Schaeffer Foundation (formerly the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation) changed its plans and began presenting a free summertime event at Railroad Park, called Schaeffer Eye Center CityFest.


  • Gray, Jeremy (May 7, 2008) "Parking employee arrested, fired after cars towed during crawfish boil." The Birmingham News
  • Colurso, Mary (March 11, 2011) "Crawfish Boil nets Nelly, Cee Lo, Weezer, STP." The Birmingham News
  • Moore, Tamika (April 25, 2014) "Schaeffer: Birmingham's Crawfish Boil transforming into new Uptown Live festival." The Birmingham News

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