Last Friday, August 5th, I had the chance to attend the Annapolis Rotary Club’s 71st Annual Crab Feast at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. I was curious to find out what this feast was all about, as back in Ireland where I’m from we have a similar event called the Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival that involves lots of eating of fresh oysters washed down with Guinness, a must-see event if you are ever there on a trip. But back to last weekend’s crab feast—a phenomenal event that’s famous for being the largest crab feast in the world. It certainly lived up to its name.
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The Annapolis Crab Feast is basically an all-you-can eat crab and beverage event, with not just Old Bay- and butter-laden crustaceans as fare, but also Maryland Crab soup, corn on the cob, B-B-Q sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers. The event began at 5pm and ended at 8pm, so there was plenty of time to consume as much as you could fit in your tummy.
When I arrived I quickly lined up at one of the stations, where I was handed a full tray of crabs in their shells—right out of the steamer and lightly seasoned. I then took my seat at one of the many picnic tables among scores of hungry people armed with mini wooden hammers (crab mallets) for cracking open the crabs.
It was a very lively event where everyone just rolled up their sleeves and really dug in. This was no place for table manners, as you had to be willing to get food more or less everywhere—there was no controlling the flying pieces of crab and Old Bay seasoning while hammering away at the crab shells.
The feast is actually a fundraising event for local charities hosted by the Rotary Club of Annapolis. It’s 100 percent recycled too, in partnership with local nonprofit Annapolis Green, with all of the crab waste used as compost which I think is a great idea. One of the highlights for me was meeting Queen Clawdia, a human-sized female crab and official mascot of the Rotary Club. Clawdia posed for numerous photographs with children and adults, myself included. She must have been boiling inside that suit as it was a very humid day. Another interesting person I met was our very own Mayor of Annapolis Mike Pantelides, who was tucking into crabs with the masses.
The event, expected to draw a crowd of over 2,500 people, certainly felt like it hit that mark: the venue was packed and there were many full and content tummies at the end of the evening, that’s for sure. I think the annual crab feast is a great Annapolis tradition that everyone should try in order to get the full flavor of summertime in Maryland.
Photos courtesy of Sinead Harold and Ken Tom