A gala, sumptuous crab feast in Annapolis The annual charity event, which has raised more than $1.5 million since its inception in 1946, is Rotary Club of Annapolis' prime event of the season.

The 72nd annual Rotary Crab Feast at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The 72nd annual Rotary Crab Feast at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Having met their steamy fate, thousands of crabs sat awaiting the shell-cracking, backfin-seeking horde on Friday night.

But they didn’t wait long before being gobbled up by a crowd of roughly 2,500 at the Rotary Club of Annapolis’ (Maryland, US — District 7620) 72nd annual Crab Feast at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Annapolis Alderman Fred Paone, R-Ward 2, taking a break from his volunteer duty stacking crabs on trays, said, “It is hot work, but it’s worth it for the cause.”

The charity event, which has raised more than $1.5 million since its inception in 1946, is the organisation’s prime event of the season.

Last year’s feast generated $58,500, which was doled out to 46 recipients with grants ranging from $3,500 to $500.

Beneficiaries this year ranged from the Hospice of the Chesapeake and Box of Rain, to the Annapolis Maritime Museum, Anne Arundel County Public Library system and the Boys and Girls Club of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

The event is also a chance for politicking. Incumbents and candidates alike chatted up the crab-gorging crowd. Some paused to crack open a crustacean or sip on a cold beer while making the rounds.

Mayor Mike Pantelides was steadily moving. Asked a half-hour after his arrival if he had had any crabs yet, he replied, “No. Politicking first, then crabs.”

Democratic mayoral candidate state Sen John Astle was working as well.

Other politicos included Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, and Democratic City Council candidates Kurt Riegel and Marc Rodriguez, who was working as a volunteer in the composting and recycling effort.

County Executive Steve Schuh hung quietly under the president’s table tent with a small group of friends.

Other than the crews working hard with the crabs, or rolling trash bins full of compostibles back to two full dumpsters, the hardest working person might have been “Queen Clawdia,” aka Lucy Mackinnon, parading around in a foam crab outfit.

Lucky for her it was a little cooler Friday than her inaugural appearance at last year’s feast.

“Yeah, last year it was so hot I filled Ziploc baggies full of ice and put them in my bikini under the costume,” Mackinnon said. “Then the ice melted and the bags kept falling out. I lost all 40 of them. I got some strange looks. It was funny.”

The crowd at Friday night’s feast was nearly overflowing.

“We are busting out at the seams,” said Rotary President Sue Weber. “We had to put up more tables. And we opened up the president’s table area to everyone to take care of the overflow.”

In the past few years the Rotary event, billed as the world’s largest crab feast, has become a zero-waste affair.

With roughly 2,500 people picking 320 bushels of crabs and consuming 3,400 ears of corn, 100 gallons of crab soup, 150 pounds of beef barbecue, and hundreds of gallons of soft drinks and beer, that is a lot of detritus.

Annapolis Green and Veteran Compost teamed up with Rotary five years ago with small steps to reduce waste headed to the landfill.

With the advent of biodegradable trays, utensils and soup bowls, nearly everything now is either composted or recycled.

Veteran Compost founder Justen Garrity was hustling around with his crew and volunteers from Annapolis Green to keep up with the composting.

“Looks like we will fill one full dumpster and half of the other one,” Garrity said.

“We will be out there on Monday ready to go, getting it all going into compost.”

Within 90 days, the tons of compostible material is turned into calcium-rich compost which Annapolis Green sold last year.

Source: Capital Gazette 

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