MARATHON, Florida Keys — While the Florida Keys stone crab claw harvest season runs from Oct. 15 to May 1, the annual Stone Crab Eating Contest is an undisputed Middle Keys highlight of the season. Set for Saturday, Nov. 5, the munch-a-thon draws enthusiastic amateur eaters and their fans.
Staged at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, located at 35th Street gulfside in Marathon, the lively competition begins at 12 p.m. Entrants must register and be present by 11 a.m. the day of the event.
Contestants compete to crack, clean and chow down 25 stone crab claws in the fastest time.
Although entrants are provided with industrial-strength shell crackers, some choose to employ an effective method that’s popular among Keys locals — smacking the rounded area of the claw’s shell with the back of a large serving spoon or even a simple butter knife.
Prizes such as overnight stays and passes to Keys attractions and eateries are to be awarded to the top three finishers as well as top teams.
In the event of a tie, those contestants must face off in a 10-claw competition to determine the winner.
Interested crab consumers are encouraged to register early to ensure a spot at the table. Individual entry fee is $50 and two-person teams can register for $100. Competitors must be at least 18 years old.
Proceeds from the team event benefit a Marathon-based charity.
The Keys are Florida's top supplier of the succulent crustacean, which is considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to regrow harvested claws. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of stone crab claws are steamed, cracked and served at local markets and restaurants or distributed around the nation.
Event information: keysfisheries.com/upcoming-events/
Juan Mallen consumes 25 stone crab claws in 14 minutes and 29 seconds to win the individual division of the 2021 Keys Fisheries Stone Crab Claw Eating Contest in Marathon, Fla. Image: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau
Contestants use their choice of cracking tools from hammers, knives, spoons or industrial-strength crackers to reach and eat the succulent meat of tasty stone crab claws. Image: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau.
Entrants are judged on how long it takes them to crack and cleanly eat 25 stone crab claws. Image: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau