Southwest Florida is the cradle of one of the tastiest delicacies to come from the sea, stone crab. Those succulent, meaty claws—Florida’s renewable seafood resource—have made the Paradise Coast a destination not to be missed by the piscine inclined. With stone crab season set to begin October 15, the Olde Naples Waterfront Association presents Naples’ second annual Stone Crab Festival, October 29-30.
Naples and stone crab are as intertwined as northern accents and Bentleys. Starting in the 1920s with Tin City, fisheries sprouted along Naples’ fertile shores, where oysters, clams and crustaceans are plentiful and delicious. To this day, the Paradise Coast region (Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City—the Stone Crab Capital of the World) is the second largest fishery of stone crab in the state (Monroe County being first), brining fresh-from-the-boat claws to tables not only locally but also nationally. The stone crab catch is a multi-million dollar industry for Collier County and the number one commercial fishery to the region, making it an integral part of the Collier County and Naples’ makeup, a cornerstone of the town’s history and a continuing source of income, revenue and jobs.
To applaud not just a delicious seafood treat, but Southwest Florida as a whole, the Stone Crab Festival is getting Naples Bay in the celebratory mood. The two day festival gets underway a day early with a kickoff party at Pincher’s Crab Shack, Friday, October 28.
On October 29-30, events and happenings across Naples Bay will take place. Tin City will host a block party with various vendors. Stone crab boats will be docked for visitors to catch a glimpse at the tools of the trade; while Cruise Naples will have $15 cruises. The Dock Restaurant at the Naples City Dock will have stone crab and drink specials. Port O’Call Marina will have music and children’s activities, drink specials and Naples Princess sightseeing tours will disembark throughout the day. Bayfront Naples and the Bayfront Inn will host Taste of Bayfront, with food from area restaurants; Shane’s Cabana Bar will have a frozen drink special; Bayfront Inn will go island style with a Caribbean themed buffet an d party; and water shuttles will take people to-and-fro, via the waterway. Naples Bay Resort will play host to Naples’ foodies with bites in an array of styles from restaurants all over. Jack’s River Bar will be a party, with the Miss Stone Crab Swimsuit Contest and a ladies stone crab fritter-eating contest on Saturday; while the Mr. Stone Crab “Crab Toss” contest and the men’s stone crab fritter eating contest will take place on Sunday. To bring a little culture to the party, the Naples Backyard History Heritage Trail Museum/Gordon River Underpass with an Everglades artist exhibit, and lectures by Florida’s official fine arts photographer Alan Maltz, and authors Virginia Saalman and Kathy Macumber.
The two-day event has something for the whole family to enjoy, so come show your support, learn a little about Naples history and dine on one of the sea’s true delicacies, stone crab.
For times, directions and more information on the festival events, visit the Stone Crab Festival website: stonecrabfestival.org