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Danny Poulard on the accordion, Sam Siggins on the bass and Eric Thompson (names cq) plays the guitar for the California Cajun Orchestra during the eighth annual Berkeley Cajun Festival which ran in conjunction with the Berkeley Farmers Market Saturday 8/23/97. (WEST COUNTY TIMES/HERMAN BUSTAMANTE Jr.) WCAJUN

BRANNAN ISLAND -- Thousands of visitors with a taste for seafood and the toe-tapping rhythms of the Bayou state will descend on this Delta island this weekend to get their fill of both.

The Isleton Cajun & Blues Festival, a long-standing tradition over Father's Day weekend, is drawing crowds from around the West, Texas and as far away as Louisiana that will spend two days sampling a buffet of ocean and freshwater edibles from oysters, fried catfish and salmon to calamari and crab cakes.

Oh, and don't forget the frog legs, alligator on a stick or the estimated four tons of crayfish that fishermen are harvesting from the Delta this week for the occasion.

A local bait shop also will be selling live crayfish that do-it-yourselfers can take home to cook.

And then there's the music -- 14 bands in all -- that will perform blues, Cajun and zydeco both days for upward of 7½ hours nonstop.

No one needs to stand on the sidelines unless it's by choice because dance lessons will be available for those who want to kick up their two left heels.

There will be "more dance space than we've ever had before," said Lynette Brister, president of Isleton's chamber of commerce, which is organizing the event.

And with predictions of temperatures in the high 80s, that area will be covered with canopies to provide shade, she said.


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The cost of admission includes fun for children as well, such as a rock climbing wall, a collection of inflatable play structures and a 28-foot slide.

Against a backdrop of vendors selling cigars, beef jerky and toe rings, a little local history will be on display; the Isleton Historical Society is bringing a portable museum, and a small collection of antique cars, boats and tractors will be on display.

Organizers moved the festival this year to Brannan Island, where there's a collection of marinas and other businesses known as the Delta Loop Recreation Area, making it easier for those coming by boat to reach the event, Brister said.

Previous festivals had been held along two blocks of Isleton's Main Street, but space was limited, and there's only one small boat dock, she said.

"Why not open (the festival) up to more waterways?" Brister said.

Parking on the island remains at a premium, however, so visitors will leave their vehicles at a staging area and take a free shuttle the remaining 2½ miles to the festival.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.

IF YOU GO
What: Isleton Cajun & Blues Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Brannan Island; the only available parking -- it's free -- is at 17201 Jackson Slough Road, where shuttles will take visitors the rest of the way at no cost.
Tickets: $25 for a one-day pass, $40 for two days. Children younger than 12 are free.
Information: 916-777-4800 or visit http://isletoncajunfestival.net