Seafood fans can celebrate the start of stone crab season in the Florida Keys with the fifth annual Stone Crab Eating Contest, set for noon Saturday, Oct. 17. The much-anticipated event is to be staged at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, located off U.S. Highway 1 on Marathon’s 35th Street gulfside.
In the unique contest, amateur eaters age 18 and over compete to crack and consume 25 stone crab claws, picking them clean, in the fastest time. If a tie occurs, a 10-claw tiebreaker will be held to determine the winner.
Stone crab season runs from Oct. 15 to May 15 each year. The Keys are a top supplier of the succulent delicacy to restaurants throughout the United States.
Only the claws are harvested, and the crab’s body is returned to the water to grow new claws. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the tasty crustaceans are the states only renewable seafood resource.
Individual participants and two-person teams can enter the test of crab-eating capacity. Fees are $50 per individual entrant and $100 per team.
The contest’s first-place individual winner receives a complimentary night at Tranquility Bay Resort in Marathon. The first-place team wins a complimentary room for two nights at Marathon’s Holiday Inn Express & Suites.
Other prizes for top contestants and teams include half-day backcountry fishing charter trips, gift certificates to local restaurants, a coral reef experience at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters and a dolphin encounter at Dolphin Research Center.
After the contest, entrants are allowed to take home any crab claws they couldn’t finish to enjoy at their own pace.
Event registration information: www.keysfisheries.com
Marathon visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/marathon or 1-800-262-7284
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