Last updated on June 10th, 2021 at 05:41 pm
As the first “cool” fronts roll into Florida in mid-October, the stone crab harvest gets underway, and so do the celebrations at stone crab festivals.
While stone crabs are found throughout Florida’s waters, most of the harvest comes from Southeast Florida, the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida.
In order to preserve the fishery, commercial harvesters remove only a single claw of legal size, allowing the crab to continue to feed and protect itself while a new claw regenerates. This is not a legal requirement but common practice to ensure sustainability, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A new claw takes one to two years to grow.
Claws are cooked on the boat or at the dock soon after being removed from the crab so the meat doesn’t stick to the shell.
The festivals in this listing are dedicated to stone crabs. For a comprehensive list of seafood festivals in Florida, check out FloridaRambler’s 2021-2022 Florida Seafood Festivals Calendar.
2021 Stone Crab Festival Calendar
Dunedin Stone Crab Festival, Oct. 15-24, 2021
Serving stone crabs, blue crabs, shrimp, grouper, ceviche, fish tacos, hot dogs, pizza, craft beer & wine and live musical entertainment. Free admission. Chairs and blankets OK. “Socially conscious pets are very welcomed.” Edgewater Park, 51 Main Street, Dunedin, FL 34698
Things to do and places to stay near Dunedin
- Pinellas Trail: Treasured bike trail from St. Pete north
- Honeymoon Island: A natural beach with comforts
- Dunedin Hotels
Cedar Key Seafood Festival, Oct. 16-17, 2021
[mappress mapid=”288″ alignment=”right” initialopeninfo=”false”] CEDAR KEY — Looking for old Florida? This rustic outpost on the Gulf’s “forgotten coast” has a rich fishing history, and it is the nation’s No. 1 supplier of farm-raised clams, succulent red-tinged littlenecks that make your mouth water just looking at them. But that’s not all! Stone crabs are also taking center stage as the season gets underway.
The Cedar Key Seafood Festival is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and features more than 200 arts and crafts exhibits, live music, a parade Saturday morning and loads of great local seafood. Bluegrass music is the featured entertainment.
Things to do and places to stay near Cedar Key
St. Marks Stone Crab Festival, Oct. 30, 2021
[mappress mapid=”290″ alignment=”left” initialopeninfo=”false”] ST. MARKS – This community festival has been celebrating the opening of stone crab season every year since 1997, but this historic little fishing village has been around a lot longer than that. St. Marks was first settled 1527 at the confluence of the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers, near where they empty into Apalachee Bay, and stone crabs are not a sport here, it’s their business. The weather is always perfect towards the end of October, so enjoy the great food, music, parade and, of course, the crowning of the Stone Crab Queen!
The festival provides a venue for local musicians and artisans. Proceeds from the festival are donated to charities in St. Marks and the surrounding area.
Things to do and places to stay near St. Marks
- Camping at state parks in Florida’s Panhandle
- Beach camping in Florida’s Panhandle
- St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Naples Stone Crab Festival, Oct. 29-31, 2021
[mappress mapid=”292″ alignment=”left” initialopeninfo=”false”] NAPLES — The Naples Stone Crab Festival, which celebrates the kickoff of the stone crab season on the waterfront in upscale Naples. Sponsored by the Old Naples Waterfront Association, the festival is designed to show off the historic center of Naples. It also helps that this area of the Gulf Coast, especially the Ten Thousand Islands, is one of Florida’s prime stone crab harvesting regions.
Most of the events are hosted at waterfront businesses. Free water taxis will transport you to all waterfront locations participating in the festival.
Things to do and places to stay near Naples
- Discover Hidden Beach at Clam Pass
- Collier-Seminole Park: Kayak trail, camping near Naples
- Corkscrew Preserve: A sanctuary for us, too
- Naples Hotels
SoBe Seafood Week, Oct. 20-23, 2021
MIAMI BEACH — This Florida festival is not your typical seafood festival, but a high-end experience showcasing South Florida’s leading chefs in a diverse group of events, where guests experience the best seafood in Miami to kick off stone crab season.
- Wednesday — An Evening at Joe’s, featuring epicurean masterpieces from historic Miami seafood restaurant, Joe’s Stone Crab. This incredibly exclusive event hosts 50 VIPs in Jesse’s Room, the famous private space where greats like Al Capone and Frank Sinatra cracked claws.
- Thursday — Crabs, Slabs and Cabs, one of SoBe Seafood Week’s newest seafood events. A cocktail-hour-style event hosted at the Shore Club Hotel. The event features cuisines from around the world as award winning chefs of South Florida create their take on the traditional Surf N Turf dish paired with different Cabernets. This 250-person party is for those who love to mix and mingle while they indulge.
- Friday — VIP Chef Showdown, the ultimate night of competition where the best South Beach chefs hit the sand for an epic throwdown beach bash. 14 chefs. 7 battles. 1 1/2 blocks are serious culinary celebrations on the sands. Sounds by Yissel top off the night’s entertainment. Taste every seafood dish and you be the judge.
- Saturday — The main event, a beachfront seafood festival, brought to you by William Hill Estate Winery and hosted by Jack Daniels and the City of Miami Beach, spans four blocks and welcomes over 15,000 seafoodies to enjoy a day of fun in the sun. Pop-up cafes from Miami’s best restaurants with the fresh seafood, paired with 30+ complimentary open bars for 21 and over, fun and games, culinary demos.
Things to do and places to stay near Miami Beach:
Marathon Stone Crab Eating Contest, Oct. 23, 2021
MARATHON — Be the first to eat 25 stone crab claws, and you could be a winner. Every year, the Keys Fisheries restaurant in Marathon sponsors this event to mark the opening of stone crab season. How fast can you crack and cleanly consume 25 stone crab claws? Test your munching mettle at this zany contest. Individuals must be at least 18 years old to enter. Registration starts at 11 am and contest begins at 12 noon. Keys Fisheries, 3502 Gulfview Avenue, Marathon.
Things to do and places to stay near Marathon:
- Marathon: Seagoing heart of the Florida Keys
- RV camping in the Keys
- Tent camping in the Keys
- Marathon Hotels
Frenchy’s Stone Crab Weekend, Oct. 22-24, 2021
CLEARWATER — Every fall in October, for one weekend only, Clearwater Beach closes Baymont Street for Frenchy’s annual Stone Crab Weekend. In addition to fresh-off-the-boat claws supplied by Frenchy’s Stone Crab Company at discounted prices, the two-day block party features live music on stage, food and drink specials, raffles to win valuable prize packages with proceeds benefiting charity.
The block party is from 12 noon – 10 pm both Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23. Admission is free. Food, drinks and merchandise will be for sale. Parking at North Beach Park Plaza (600+ spaces, $3 per hour.) Also, public street parking and metered lots are available within several blocks.
Things to do and places to stay near Clearwater
- Pinellas Trail: Treasured rail trail
- Honeymoon Island
- Best Camping Near Tampa Bay: 9 Choice Campgrounds
- Clearwater Hotels
Stone Crab Jam, Nov. 6, 2021
CRYSTAL RIVER — 13th annual Stone Crab Jam features fresh stone crabs, cold beer and wine, 6 live Bands on three stages, craft vendors, artists and food trucks along the historic downtown streets of Crystal River. Nearly 10 thousand attendees support this 100% non-profit event presented by the Kings Bay Rotary Club Charitable Foundation. General admission: $10 (12 and under free). 560 North Citrus Ave., Crystal River, FL.
Things to do and places to stay near Crystal River
This is the 8th year for this popular event in the fishing village of Cortez (just west of Bradenton). Two days of live music, fresh seafood, beer tent, kids area, local art vendors, and a large tent for protection from the rain or sun. Free admission. 10 am-10 pm, both days. Hosted by the Swordfish Grill and Tiki Bar, 4628 119th Street West, Cortez, Florida. (Marker 49 by boat)
Things to do and places to stay near Cortez
- Cortez: Charming fishing village, perfect place for classic seafood shack
- Cortez Fishing Festival celebrates its maritime roots: Feb. 15-16, 2020
- Cortez Hotels
For other seafood festivals see our updated 2021-22 Florida Seafood Festival Calendar
From the Editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm rates and details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.
This article is the property of FloridaRambler.com and is protected by U.S. and International Copyright Laws. All rights are reserved. Re-publication of this article without written permission is illegal.