Crab races are off

The annual Texas Crab Festival was Saturday in Crystal Beach. The last place crab fought back as Cailey Ables, left to right, Addie Damasi and Julia Susong’s tried to coax it across the finish line. The festival ends today at 6 p.m.

Photo by JERRY JORDAN

CRYSTAL BEACH — The joke going around the Texas Crab Festival on Saturday was that it’s a good thing crabs like water because as the rains moved over Bolivar Peninsula the night before, some were worried the weather would dampen people’s spirits.

But that wasn’t the case.

Hundreds of people enjoyed the sights and sounds Friday night as 2013 Grammy winning artist Wayne Toups entertained the crowd. But even more festivalgoers came out Saturday to help judge the Crab Gumbo Contest, sample crabby treats from the food concessions, ride carnival rides, listen to live music on the stage and, yes, challenge their friends to a crab race.

That is exactly what Addie Damasi was doing on her first visit to the festival. Damasi’s crab outran the competition and she didn’t waste any time gloating about her win.

“I am pretty good at racing crabs,” Damasi said. “I just told the crab to go and it did.”

Festival chairman Tom Osten said he expected a record crowd as the sun began to break through clouds. He added the event already has seen a record number of vendors and sponsors this year.

“With the weather clearing, it is going to be a beautiful day so we expect a lot of people to come out (today) to have fun,” Osten said. “You know, the Crab Festival started many years ago to bring people to Bolivar and show them what we have to offer in terms of entertainment, food and arts and crafts.”

As for the food, the fare includes crab pie, crab pups, crab po-boys, crab burgers, BBQ crabs, crabby patties and crab and shrimp nachos just to name a few.

And nearly every food vendor hopes their signature crab dish will take home the prize for being the fan favorite. There were four competitors in the gumbo challenge where all proceeds and prize money will be donated to charity of the winner’s choice.

The crab festival wraps up today at 6 p.m. but not before a full day of free live music and fun.

“We are proud to showcase our peninsula, and we are proud to show that we have come back very well from the destruction of Hurricane Ike,” Osten said.

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