Saturday, September 19, 2020

Visitors and locals alike will converge in Florida’s Paradise Coast

Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades – Friday, October 23 through Sunday, October 25 for theNaples Annual Stone Crab Festival. The event returns for its sixth year and welcomes a variety of seafood vendors and features numerous activities including live music, boat rides and children’s entertainment.

Presented by the Old Naples Waterfront Association, the Stone Crab Festival is a chance for guests to explore the beautiful and historic Naples waterfront district with activities on land and by water. Events will kick off on Friday night at 4:00 p.m. with Mayor John Sorey III and other local dignitaries and a special appearance by Derrick Peltz, local celebrity chef and MasterChef Finalist from season six of the popular FOX television series at the ceremonial “Cracking of the Claw.” Then get ready for two days of activities at the festival venues of Tin City, Bayfront, Port of Naples Marina, Naples Bay Resort, and the Naples Trolley Depot and Heritage Trail Museum.

Tin City will be party central, featuring fresh stone crab from Pincher’s Crab Shack at outdoor kiosks as well as for sit-down dining in the restaurant, along with live music from the festival’s headlining musical acts, arts and craft vendors, and kid’s activities presented by Freedom Waters Foundation. Bayfront Naples will be presenting over 20 restaurant vendors offering fresh stone crab, local seafood, and a wide variety of other local eats. More than 20 craft vendors will also be on site offering local art, custom jewelry and other Florida novelties. Throughout the weekend, the Bayfront location will also have live music along with the Pirate Cove Kid Zone that will include face painting, balloon creations, games and crafts.

Sightseeing cruises will be available at Port of Naples Marina on the Naples Princess and at Tin City on board Pure Florida’s Double Sunshine. Naples Bay Resort will offer food and drink specials at their boat rental location, raffles, discounts on ships store apparel, entertainment and more. The Naples Bay Water Shuttle offers low-cost boat rides from Naples Bay Resort to other festival locations. Naples Transportation & Tours offers the opportunity to meet and greet World War II veterans and will provide a discount on trolley tours, Segway tours and Everglades excursion tickets.

For visitors interested in experiencing the festival all weekend, hotels near the festivities are offering value-driven rates starting as low as $99 per night at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and $179 per night at the Bayfront Inn. For more information about hotel and dining deals in the area as well as festival details, visit www.paradisecoast.com and click on Fall For Fun. There is free admission to the entire festival with $5 parking at a variety of nearby locations. For times, directions and more information on the festival, visit www.stonecrabfestival.org.

The festival takes place a week after the start of stone crab season in Florida, which begins October 15 and lasts through May 15. The stone crab is special in that it is Florida’s only renewable seafood resource. When harvested, only claws of 2 and ¾ inches or larger are taken and the crab is put back alive in the Gulf of Mexico, where it regenerates the harvested claw.

Florida’s Paradise Coast brings fresh-from-the-boat claws to tables not only locally but also nationally. Several local commercial stone crab claw purveyors offer overnight shipment of fresh, never frozen claws. The stone crab catch is an integral part of the Collier County commercial fishing industry and a cornerstone of the area’s history. Now deceased Everglades City native and colorful character Totch Brown claims to have invented the commercial stone crab industry by figuring out not only how to catch stone crabs, but properly prepare the claws so the tasty meat inside didn’t stick to the nearly impenetrable stone-like shell. Much of the Paradise Coast region’s annual catch is brought to the docks in Everglades City, hence the tiny town’s nickname of “Stone Crab Capital of the World.”

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