Volume 13, Issue 30 ~ July 29 - August 3, 2005
Crab Catch
by M.L. Faunce
photo by M.L. Faunce

World’s Largest Crab Feast Returns to Annapolis
It’s 60 Years and Cracking for Rotary Club of Annapolis

A few years back, a crab-loving friend introduced me to a tradition I had never joined because I didn’t think I could bring myself to see so many people consuming so many crabs at an event billed as the World’s Largest Crab Feast. Every August now, I can’t wait to go the Rotary Club of Annapolis’ annual feast — it’s August 5 this year — for the crabs and for three hours with the happiest people I meet all year.

Good food and goodwill combine to make the annual crab feast the defining event of summer for crab lovers in and all around Annapolis. The fun begins with spontaneous camaraderie and parking-lot reunions as families and newfound friends queue up to enter the grounds of U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Last year 2,400 people joined in the fun, selecting tables, filling trays with Jumbo No. 1 crabs (360 bushels steaming hot), corn (3,600 ears), crab soup (75 gallons), hot dogs (1,800), beef and pork barbeque (150 pounds) washed down by hundreds of gallons of soft drinks and beer. It’s all you can eat, so you can line up again and again.

A silent auction, raffles with cash prizes, sale of the Rotary’s own Crab Feast Mania, A Cookbook for Crab Lovers; and wagering on home-baked goods at the lively cake wheel all add to the fun and fundraising.

It’s the 60th year the Rotary Club of Annapolis has finessed this massive feast. The 155 service club members do all the work with nearly 100 percent pitching in. The Rotarians work by committees, moving from planning to setting up tables and chairs the night before; handling ticketing; helping at food and beverage booths; selling T-shirts, souvenirs and cookbooks; managing raffle, silent-auction tent, children’s area and cake wheel; and breaking down afterward, when they clean up after thousands.

Smoothing the flow of the expected 3,000 crab lovers through the crab feast and concessions at the refurbished south side of the stadium is Rotarian Fred Fishback, the architect who designed Annapolis Yacht Club. The feast is also more kid friendly these days, with a children’s area featuring a moon bounce and a dunking tank.

Club members pay all of their own administrative costs. Expenses paid by proceeds are dominated by rental for tables, chairs and the stadium itself, which costs some $3,000. Beyond those expenses, all the money raised by feasting is granted to local charities. Adam’s the Place for Ribs helps boost that take by donating all the barbeque and trimmings.

Last year’s feast raised $29,150, awarded to organizations and nonprofits with names that read like a who’s who of good works of city and county: Arundel Habitat for Humanity, the Clay Street Computer Learning Center, Food Link, Friends of Arundel Seniors, Annapolis Youth Services, Respite Home of South Haven, Maryland Therapeutic Riding, Cape St. Claire Volunteer Fire Company, Arundel Medical Center Foundation, Annapolis Maritime Museum.

Anne Arundel Medical Center spent its large grant for a Vapotherm unit for newborns. The Greater Clay Street CDC helped fund summer camp for teens. Annapolis Maritime Museum refurbished the skipjack Lydia D. Arundel Habitat helped build houses.

“Grants are spread over the entire community of Annapolis, supporting cultural arts, museums, seniors, handicapped, underprivileged children and adults,” says Mimi Jones, who heads the Rotary Grants Committee.

  • When: 5-8pm Friday, August 5
  • Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis
  • Tickets: $45 advance; $50 at the gate. Children 6-12, $15; under six free. Order online at advance price: www.annapolisrotary.com/crabfeast.asp. Or email to [email protected] for pick up at the Will Call window at the Crab Feast ticket office.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.