Last updated on January 17th, 2020 at 11:28 am
As the first “cool” fronts of fall roll into Florida in mid-October, the seafood festival season kicks into high gear with the opening of stone crab season.
While stone crabs can be 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.
Our story highlights festivals dedicated to stone crabs, but you’ll find a comprehensive rundown of even more October seafood festivals lower in the story.
Stone Crab season opens October 15
Dunedin Stone Crab Festival, Oct. 18-19, 2019
DUNEDIN — 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.” Oct 18, 12– 8 pm; Saturday, Oct. 19, 12-10 pm. Edgewater Park, 51 Main Street, Dunedin, FL 34698
Related links and things to do nearby
- Festival web site
- Pinellas Trail: Treasured bike trail from St. Pete north
- Honeymoon Island: A natural beach with comforts
- Dunedin Hotels
South Florida Seafood Festival: Oct. 19-20, 2019
KEY BISCAYNE — A great way to kick off Stone Crab Season is on the bay at the Miami Marine Stadium with live Caribbean music, family fun zones, mojito bars, wine lounges and more than 25 seafood culinary partners. Attendees enjoy fresh seafood, featuring not just stone crabs but South Florida favorites paella, jambalaya, lobster rolls, gourmet sushi and everything in between.
Selected artisan vendors sell nautical-themed jewelry, art, and decorations at the Thrifter Market. 11 am-7 pm both days. General Admission: $14 in advance, $20 at the gate; $22 per family (2 adults + children) in advance, kids under 12 admitted free. Food and beverage at additional cost. Miami Marine Stadium, 3501 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne.
Related links and things to do nearby:
Cedar Key Seafood Festival: Oct. 19-20, 2019
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. We love Cedar Key clams, and you’ll love their annual seafood festival. In addition to locally harvested seafood, the festival boasts more than 200 arts and crafts booths with live entertainment around town, day and night.
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.
Related links and things to do nearby:
St. Marks Stone Crab Festival: Oct. 26, 2019
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.
Related links and things to do nearby
- St. Marks Stone Crab Festival
- Camping at state parks in Florida’s Panhandle
- Beach camping in Florida’s Panhandle
- St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Naples Stone Crab Festival: Oct. 25-27, 2019
NAPLES — This is the 7th year for 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.
Related articles and things to do nearby:
- Naples Stone Crab Festival
- Discover Hidden Beach at Clam Pass
- Collier-Seminole Park: Kayak trail, camping near Naples
- Corkscrew Preserve: A sanctuary for us, too
- Naples Hotels
South Beach Seafood Week, Miami Beach: Oct. 22-26, 2019
MIAMI BEACH — This Florida seafood 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.
Tuesday, Oct. 22 — An Evening at Joe’s, featuring epicurean masterpieces from historic Miami seafood restaurant, Joe’s Stone Crab. Exclusive event hosts 50 VIPs in Jesse’s Room, the famous private space where greats like Al Capone and Frank Sinatra cracked claws. Tickets: $500, all inclusive. Only 20 tickets available.
Wednesday, Oct. 23 — Cooking and Cocktails, featuring six unique courses co-created by celebrity Chef Sean Brasel and Goya Foods Executive Chef Fernando Desa paired by Herradura. This 75-person pairing dinner is made for seafood lovers seeking a true culinary experience. Tickets: $150, all inclusive. Only 75 tickets available.
Thursday, Oct. 24 — Crabs, Slabs and Cabs, one of SoBe Seafood Week’s newest seafood events. A cocktail-hour-style event hosted at the Shore Club Hotel. Featuring food and wine pairings featuring the best of Surf N Turf from all of SBE Entertainment Group’s award-winning Chefs, this 250-person party is for those who love to mix and mingle while they indulge. Tickets: $150, all inclusive. Only 200 tickets available.
Friday, Oct. 25 — Chef Showdown, the ultimate night of competition where the best South Beach chefs hit the sand for an epic throw-down beach bash. 14 chefs. 7 battles. 1 1/2 blocks are serious party on the sands. Sounds by Yissel top off the night’s entertainment. Taste every seafood dish and #ChooseYourChamp because you’re the judge! Admission: $150 all inclusive. 1,000 tickets available.
Saturday, Oct. 26. SoBe Seafood Festival, Miami Beach. The main event. Indulge at pop-up cafes from Miami’s best restaurants with fresh seafood, paired with complimentary open bars for 21 and over, three live music stages, fun and games, culinary demos. Benefits EAT SMART program, providing healthy meals and nutritional guidance to youth. General admission: $49; (VIP: $150). Both include open bar. Advance sale discounts. Noon to 7 p.m., Lummus Park (14th Street and Ocean Drive).
Frenchy’s 35th Annual Stone Crab Weekend, Clearwater: Oct. 25-27, 2019
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 25th and 26th, 2019. 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.
Related links and things to do nearby
- Frenchie’s Stone Crab Weekend
- Pinellas Trail: Treasured rail trail
- Honeymoon Island
- Best Camping Near Tampa Bay: 9 Choice Campgrounds
- Clearwater Hotels
Stone Crab Jam, Nov. 2, 2019
CRYSTAL RIVER — 12th 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.
Relative links and things to do
- Festival web site.
- Crystal River manatees: How to see, kayak or swim with manatees
- Crystal River Hotels
Marathon Stone Crab Eating Contest: Nov. 9, 2019
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.
Related links and things to do:
Cortez Stone Crab & Music Festival, Nov. 9-10, 2019
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)
Related links and things to do
- Event details
- Cortez: Charming fishing village, perfect place for classic seafood shack
- Cortez Fishing Festival celebrates its maritime roots: Feb. 15-16, 2020
- Cortez Hotels
Featured story: Stone Crab season is upon us, and Everglades City is ready
Other seafood festivals in October
From our comprehensive 2019-2020 Florida Seafood Festival Calendar
Oct. 4-6, 2019. 42nd Annual Destin Seafood Festival, Festival showcases the fishing fleet, harbor and community. Fresh caught local seafood provided by local food vendors. Music entertainment features Rock, Reggae, Country and tropical music along the Harbor. Friday, 4-10 pm; Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 11 am-4 pm. Admission Free. Harborwalk, Destin.
Oct. 5, 2019. Rock Shrimp Festival, St. Mary’s, Georgia. The 47th Annual Rock Shrimp Festival brings a full day of family fun to St. Marys, but the big attraction is the rock shrimp dinners served from 11 am-4 pm. Also, included in the dinner are boiled shrimp, fried fish, slaw and hushpuppies. Festival proceeds are spent locally to fund Kiwanis youth programs in Camden County. St. Mary’s is just north of the Florida-Georgia line.
Oct. 5, 2019. Mims Mullet Festival, Mims. Fried and smoked mullet (and other southern dishes), music, crafts, kids events, car show. 5k race and golf tournament at Indian River Preserve Golf Club. Raffle for Predator MX Kayak. Sponsored by Mims United Methodist Church. Festival at 3302 Green St, Mims. 10 am-4 pm
Oct. 10-13, 2019. 48th Annual National Shrimp Festival. Produced by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber. Free admission. Shuttle from remote parking lots, $5. Thursday-Saturday 10 am – 10 pm; Sunday 10 am – 5 pm. On the beach where Highway 59 meets Hwy 182 (Beach Rd.), Gulf Shores, Alabama.
October 14-20, 2019. 29th Annual Lobster Festival and Tournament, The largest 7-day lobster festival and tournament in the Southeast. Huge local lobsters on the weigh-in scales, fresh lobster prepared every way you can imagine, and the Schooners Sand Sculpting Contest. Proceeds benefit the Florida Aquatic Marine Institute and the Toys For Kids Foundation. Schooners Beach Club, 5121 Gulf Drive, Panama City Beach.
Oct. 19, 2019. Seafood and Soul Fest, Annual festival combining the love of seafood and soul food with live entertainment. Benefit for Edith Marie Foundation, a nonprofit founded to impact and empower the lives of those battling Breast Cancer in Jacksonville and surrounding areas. Admission $0-$10. 12-7 pm. Morocco Shrine Center, 3800 St. Johns Bluff Rd, Jacksonville.
Oct. 18-20, 2019 Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival. Niceville. This is the 43rd year for the enduring seafood event that has expanded to include handmade arts and crafts, thrilling amusement rides and games, and top-notch musical entertainment. Shuttles ($2 round trip) carry riders to the nearby festival site at 598 FL-85. Admission: Friday and Saturday, $15; Sunday, $10. Advance sale tickets are available online for $10. (11 and under free). Free parking at Northwest Florida State College, 100 E College Blvd, Niceville.
Oct. 18-20, 2019. John’s Pass Seafood Festival, Madeira Beach. Largest event in Pinellas County last year. Non-stop musical entertainment. Seafood offerings celebrate Florida and Gulf waters. Benefits non-profit charities. Free admission. Friday 3pm – 10pm; Saturday 10am – 11pm; Sunday 10am – 6pm. 12902 Village Blvd, Madeira Beach.
Oct. 19-20, 2019. Cedar Key Seafood Festival — Cedar Key. This historic fishing village is one of the nation’s top sources of farm-raised clams. More than 100 arts and crafts exhibits, live music, a parade Saturday morning and, lots of great local seafood. Don’t miss Tony’s Restaurant’s world famous Clam Chowder! 9 am-5 pm both days. Sponsored by the Cedar Key Lions Club. More information in this article.
Oct. 26, 2019. SoBe Seafood Festival, Miami Beach. This is not your typical seafood festival, but a high-end experience. Indulge at pop-up cafes from Miami’s best restaurants with the freshest seafood items to choose from, paired with complimentary open bars for 21 and over, live music, fun and games, culinary demos. Benefits EAT SMART program, providing healthy meals and nutritional guidance to youth. General admission: $49; VIP: $150. Both include open bar. Advance sale discounts. Noon to 7 p.m., Lummus Park (14th Street and Ocean Drive).
Oct. 26, 2019. St. Marks Stone Crab Festival. Gulfside fishing community serves up fresh, local delicacies, and vendors selling everything from custom jewelry to hand-crafted furniture. Festival proceeds go to charitable organizations in St. Marks and the surrounding area. 10 am to 5 p.m. 788 Port Leon Dr, St. Marks.
For a complete schedule of seafood festivals all year: