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JA Peel ’Em and Eat ’Em back for 32nd year

Thirty-two years amounts to a whole lot of shrimp and enough desserts to stretch from here to the nearest gym.

But that won’t slow the Junior Auxiliary from the task at hand — sell more shrimp and sweets.

Tickets are $15 and on sale through Sept. 22 for the 32nd annual Peel ’Em and Eat ’Em Shrimp Dinner. The shrimp plates will be available for pickup Oct. 17 from 3-7 p.m. only at the Lincoln Civic Center.

Each plate gets a pound of boiled shrimp prepared by K&B Seafood, baked potato salad, spicy corn on the cob and crackers with cocktail sauce. K&B donates their services to cook the shrimp for the Junior Auxiliary. That’s done on-site with their big rig cookers and two pots large enough to hold 400 pounds of seafood in each. K&B, with help from Dr. Tim Shann, will boil more than 2.5 tons of shrimp.

“We had a good shrimp season this year so they should be delicious,” said shrimp chairwoman Sheila Sartin.

For tickets, see any active JA member or call the Shrimp Hotline at 601-754-9380.

After Sept. 22, tickets become a hot commodity, as only 5,000 plates will be available to ticket-holders for pickup during the four-hour window. Leftover tickets usually dwindle to just a few dozen on the day of the pickup, if they have any at all, said Sartin.

Any leftover tickets will be sold at the Ole Brook Festival in downtown Brookhaven and by calling the hotline.

On the day before the big event, the ladies of the JA — working in three shifts — will pick through the hot crustaceans to eliminate any shrimp unworthy of being plated. They pack the better shrimp into 10-pound bags and store in a refrigerated truck overnight. On sale day, they’ll load 5,000 takeout plates to hand them out to ticket-holders during pickup.

In addition to the shrimp dinners, JA members sell desserts in the Sweet Shoppe that a dedicated committee of women set up near the pickup area. Business in the Sweet Shoppe has grown in the past two years since the event moved from Brookhaven Recreation Center on Hwy. 51 to the Lincoln Civic Center on Belt Line Drive. Without the congested traffic ticket-holders encountered trying to get in and out of the rec center, they have more time to shop for desserts, Sartin said.

The JA serves home-baked goods from full-size cakes to individual servings for sale by cash or check only. Many are made from treasured JA recipes, like the Mississippi mud cake which has been a staple of the Sweet Shoppe for more than three decades. Each of the 44 members is responsible for an item and members of the Crown Club — JA’s youth group — also add to the selection. Life Members also contribute.

“The last two years, it’s really grown and increased,” she said. “The sweets are so good. The things in the Sweet Shoppe do go quickly.”

Since 1954, Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven has been dedicated to helping the children of Lincoln County. From literacy initiatives to financial support and everything in between, the women of JA strive to help support future generations.

This is the JA’s only fundraising event each year. After expenses, the money raised from the dinner and Sweet Shoppe is used to fund JA service projects such as Wish Tree, Smile Games for special needs students, Reality World for ninth-graders, a suicide prevention program, school health fairs for fifth graders, Crown Club, school clothes closets, community assistance and scholarships.