Kicking off the seven month (October 15-May 15) 2012-13 stone crab season is the second annual Stone Crab Eating Contest set for Saturday, October 20th at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, located at 35th Street in Marathon. Click here to watch the video from the 2011 contest. The contest begins at 1 p.m. Entrants must be registered and signed in by 12 noon, the day of the event. Entry fee for the contest is $25 per contestant, who must be 18 years of age. Interested Stone Crab contestants are encouraged to register early at www.keysfisheries.com
Contestants are tasked with cracking and eating 25 stone crab claws, picking them completely clean, in the fastest time. Although they are provided with shell crackers, entrants can gently smack the shell with the back of a spoon — a tool that Keys locals know is the secret to cracking the claws open. In the event of a tie, those competitors must face off in a 10-claw competition to determine the top winner.
Prizes are to be awarded to the top three finishers. The first-place eater is to receive two nights’ lodging at Doubletree Grand Key Resort in Key West, including dinner for two and breakfast. Second-place prize is a Dolphin Dip package at Marathon’s Dolphin Research Center, and a $50 Keys Fisheries Market & Marina gift certificate is awarded to the third-place finalist.
One of the Florida Keys’ most treasured dishes, succulent stone crab claws have been commercially harvested since the 1930s. Approximately 40 percent of the state’s annual stone crab harvest of nearly 3 million pounds comes from Keys waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That makes the region Florida’s top supplier of the world-renowned delicacy — considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to re-grow harvested claws.