While the Florida Keys stone crab harvest runs from Oct. 15 to May 15, November’s annual Stone Crab Eating Contest is an undisputed highlight of the seven-month season. The much-anticipated munch-a-thon is to draw amateur eaters and their fans Saturday, Nov. 9.
Staged at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, located at 35th Street gulfside in Marathon, the lively consumption competition begins at 12 p.m. Entrants must register and be present by 11 a.m. the day of the event.
Interested devourers are encouraged to register early for the Stone Crab Eating Contest to ensure their spot at the table. Contestants compete to crack, clean and eat 25 stone crab claws in the fastest time.
Although they are provided with industrial–strength shell crackers, some entrants choose to employ an effective method that’s popular among Keys locals — smacking the rounded area of the claw’s shell with the back of a large serving spoon.
In the event of a tie, those contestants must face off in a 10-claw competition to determine the winner.
Prizes are to be awarded to the top three finishers as well as top teams. Prizes traditionally include overnight stays and passes to Keysattractions and eateries. Proceeds from the team event benefit a Marathon-based charity.
Individual entry fee is $50 and two-person teams can register for $100. Competitors must be at least 18 years of age.
The Keys are Florida’s top supplier of the succulent crustacean, which is considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to regrow harvested claws. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of stone crab claws are steamed, cracked and served at local markets and restaurants or distributed around the nation.
Event information and registration: keysfisheries.com
Marathon visitor information: fla-keys.com/marathon or 1-800-262-7284
In case you didn’t know – The Florida stone crab is a crab found in the western North Atlantic, from Connecticut to Belize, including Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, The Bahamas, and the East Coast of the United States. The crab can also be found in and around the salt marshes of South Carolina and Georgia. It is widely caught for food.