70th National Hard Crab Derby on Labor Day weekend

CRISFIELD — Tropical Storm Hermine may have knocked out most of last year’s National Hard Crab Derby schedule but that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm among committee chairs organizing the upcoming 70th annual event.



All of the traditional activities from pageants to parades to boat races and boat docking are planned with the Crab Derby and Crab Picking competitions the two featured events on Saturday of Labor Day weekend.



Some schedule changes include the pageant for Little Miss and Mr. Crustacean being held Friday, Sept. 1, the day after Miss Crustacean is crowned. Typically it was held the week before. As this is the 70th year, chairs of both pageants are inviting former title-holders to attend. Tickets for each are now on sale at the Chamber of Commerce office.



Winners will succeed 2016’s Miss Crustacean Mallory Dryden, Little Miss Chloe Holland and Little Mr. Daniel Balderson.



Also on Sept. 1 the Crab Cooking competition is set to start at 9 a.m. This year it moves to Somerset Intermediate School, a larger venue especially when awards are presented — and sampling — get underway that afternoon. The chamber recently released its compilation of winning recipes from the past 50 years and From Crab Pot to Table Top will be available for sale and as a giveaway.



The defending overall champion is former Crisfield resident Amy Brennan whose Caribbean Crab Sliders which were judged the best in the 52nd annual contest last year.



At the marina from 6 to 8 p.m. also that Friday, while Crisfield Idol has been discontinued it will be replaced by Silly Relays for children and adults. Music from the 1970s to today will be played by DJ Desmond Lane at the Crab Bowl. Vendors will also be on the grounds, and there is no admission charge.



Nearby this will be the second night of the carnival which runs through Sunday, Sept. 3.



Saturday, Sept. 2 starts off with the 38th Mike Sterling 10K Race/5K Walk with both races starting at 7:30 a.m. at the City Dock. Despite the wind and rain from Hermine, this was the only event last year that took place as scheduled. There will be professional timing and registration is through the link on nationalhardcrabderby.com which is where other Crab Derby information can be obtained.



Last year Kevin Levi-Goerlich of Fruitland had a remarkable time of 38:49 while Josie Brown of Dames Quarter at 47:05 was the top female runner. Dan Nagley of Crisfield earned the Lank Parks Award given to the best local competitor. He had a time of 41:15. Mike Ennis was ahead of the pack in the 5K walk, with race namesake Mike Sterling second and his brother Mitchell third. This was Mike Sterling’s second year as a walker, as he was nursing an injury.



At 9 a.m. the Lions Club Swim Meet held in memory of Deborah Cox Emely will be at the marina pool for ages 4-13. Registration starts at 8:30 and should be concluded by 10 so participants have time to get ready for the parade at 11.



This year the parade honors Donnie Drewer as grand marshal. This native son after 55 years with the State Highway Administration retired at the end of 2016 as district engineer. While responsible for the entire Lower Shore, he always kept an eye out for the needs of Crisfield and Somerset County and in June a stretch of Md. Rt. 413 just outside Crisfield to Hopewell was dedicated in his honor.



Following the parade at 12:30 p.m. the annual Smith Island Crab Skiff Races start at the pier by Wellington Beach while at the marina (admission $3) the annual Crab Picking Contest will showcase the city’s fastest crab pickers. “This is our heritage,” said event co-chair Janice Marshall, who worked as a picker for many years. “These women deserve recognition” and prize money will be increased to $250, $150 and $50 with the pickers being able to sell their crab meat.



Last year picking was moved to Sunday and the 2016 winner was Angel Connor with Nakia Gale placing second. As co-chair Willis Dryden said under the circumstances it was more about picking their best rather than breaking records. This year organizers are working with Independent Crab Co. to have more #1 crabs available and a company out of Berlin will be in charge of the scales and weigh the meat inside a trailer or some other wind-free contrivance.



Just like the picking contest, the Governor’s Cup Race which follows was moved to Sunday last year because of Hermine. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell’s entry “Jack Spat” was the winner while Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s “Hulkin’ Hogan” was left somewhere on the track.



There was no 69th Derby because it would have been impossible to hold the crabs over….and as race emcee John Phoebus stated, “We steamed and ate all of the crabs yesterday.” That means the defending champion is from 2015. Randy Coverly of Severn, who has a second home in Deal Island, won the 68th Crab Derby with Scooby’s Clan — named for his daughter Sara and her family.



Entertainment this year at the Crab Bowl starts at 4 with Feet of Fire dance group, and that evening with Nashville recording artist Eric Karge and special guest Sara Ann Garrison performing songs from Johnny Cash to Miranda Lambert.



Sunday morning, Sept. 3 starts with the open air religious service at 8 at the City Dock. Back at the Crab Bowl (free admission) the Eastern Shore Majorettes perform at noon, the Level Up All Stars are at 12:30 and the Sons of Grace gospel singers are at 1.



Back at the City Dock (admission $15) the 46th annual Boat Docking will be held with gates opening at 10 and activities starting at noon.



Event emcee Buddy Ward said, “We’d like to see a record crowd” especially now that boat docking is returning to its former location after being at Somers Cove Marina during reconstruction of the dock following superstorm Sandy. The T-shirts on sale will include an image of the Henrietta C, the workboat that went down in April taking the life of Capt. Ed Charnock. His son Jason, also on board, was rescued and survived.



There will be food under the direction of Mike Corbin, drinks served by Crisfield High SADD, and adult beverages also on sale. There’s over $30,000 in sponsorships this year, Mr. Ward said, with the shoot-out being a “gambler’s shoot-out” where captains will have to predict their time to win the $3,000 prize.


In the evening David Dunn will be in concert at 6 at the Crab Bowl, with B-Shoc at 7:30 — all ending with fireworks. On the grounds there will be food, arts & crafts along with commercial and non-profit vendors and raffles.



There is no general chairman of the Crab Derby per se, but Chamber of Commerce President Bill Buttrill and board members have stepped into the role of sorts by ensuring all committees communicate and meet regularly so information is shared by all parties.



Last year was the first time since 2006 that weather interrupted the Crab Derby, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto blew through causing some flooding and power outages that Saturday. For more on this year’s event visit nationalhardcrabderby.com or call 410-968-2500.

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