Stone-crab lovers can celebrate the start of the open season for the crustaceans with the seventh annual Stone Crab Eating Contest, set for noon Oct. 21 at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, off U.S. 1 on Marathon’s 35th Street bayside, around mile marker 49.
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 crustaceans are the state’s only renewable seafood resource.
Individual participants and two-person teams can enter the test of crab-eating capacity. Cost is $50 per individual entrant. All contestants must be registered and complete a release form by 11 a.m. Prizes are to be awarded the contest’s top individual contestants and teams. Prizes traditionally include certificates for area restaurants, day passes to Florida Keys attractions or complimentary hotel stays.
After the contest, entrants are allowed to take home any crab claws they couldn’t finish to enjoy at their own pace.