Last updated on August 26th, 2020 at 09:45 am

St. Marks Stone Crab Festival
St. Marks Stone Crab Fest

As the first “cool” fronts of fall roll into Florida in mid-October, the seafood festival season kicks it up 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.

COVID-19: Most stone crab events have been cancelled or postponed for remainder of 2020. Others are holding out hope. See updates below.

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 but end early this year on May 1, 2021

Dunedin Stone Crab Festival. POSTPONED

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.” Although the festival has been postponed, a new date has not been set. Edgewater Park, 51 Main Street, DunedinFL 34698

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South Florida Seafood Festival Status Unknown

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.

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Cedar Key Seafood Festival Cancelled

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.

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St. Marks Stone Crab Festival Status in limbo

 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.

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Naples Stone Crab Festival Status unknown

 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.

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SoBe Seafood Week Cancelled

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.

Cancelled 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).

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Frenchy’s Stone Crab Weekend Cancelled

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.

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Stone Crab Jam Cancelled

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.

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Marathon Stone Crab Eating Contest, Oct. 17, 2020

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.

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Cortez Stone Crab & Music Festival Unknown

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)

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For other seafood festivals see our updated 2020/2021 Florida Seafood Festival Calendar

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