MARATHON, Florida Keys — Florida’s stone crab claw harvest season runs from Oct. 15 to May 1, and in the Florida Keys, the annual Stone Crab Eating Contest is an undisputed highlight of the season. This year set for Saturday, Nov. 4, 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 promptly at noon. Entrants must register and be present by 11 a.m.
Contestants compete to crack, clean and eat all the meat from 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 and top teams.
If a tie occurs, the tied contestants must face off in a 10-claw competition to determine the winner.
Interested crab consumers are encouraged to register early to secure 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 are to 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, about 2 million 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/
Participants in the annual Keys Fisheries Stone Crab Eating Contest are judged on their speed at cracking and eating 25 stone crab claws without leaving meat behind. Photo: Andy Newman
Bobby Hanousek not only won the 2022 competition, he broke the contest’s record, turning in a time of 10 minutes, 23 seconds. Photo: Andy Newman
Sandra Bradshaw, left, and Sally Mishmash regularly compete in the team division of the annual Keys Fisheries Stone Crab Eating Contest. Photo: Andy Newman