If only one place in the Chesapeake were to be crowned “The Crab Capital of the World,” Crisfield would be a top contender. Located in the Eastern Shore’s Somerset County, Maryland’s southernmost city has its roots firmly planted in the seafood industry and harvesting the Chesapeake Bay’s bounty.
Crisfield is located between the Annemessex and Pocomoke Rivers, in a natural cove that affords shelter from the weather. A part of that cove is now Somers Cove Marina, a 515-slip, full service marina. The picturesque setting offers a safe and secluded berth, protected on three sides by land, and provides immediate access to the Tangier Sound in the Lower Chesapeake Bay.
In Crisfield, when they party, they do it with the Chesapeake Bay’s succulent blue crabs and a full calendar of crabby events, starting June 1 with regular Crab & Cruise all-you-can-eat jumbo crab feasts hosted by Crabplace.com. Called “The Baddest Crab Party On The Bay,” the feast begins on shore at the Crab Place restaurant, and lasts 2 hours. All-you-can-eat Maryland blue crabs, steamed shrimp, saucy ribs, BBQ wings and ice-cold pitchers of beer headline the menu that even features a slice of Smith Island Cake, Maryland’s state dessert.
Meeting Hurricane Hazel
This world class crab-eating venue comes complete with a live disc jockey and 16-time world crab-picking champion, Hurricane Hazel. She will show you how to pick crabs like a pro. After the feast, the boat sets sail toward Tangier Island with a complimentary raw oyster bar. The upper deck is a floating dance party under the stars. The 3-hour cruise includes the possibility of seeing one of Crisfield’s spectacular sunsets. For more information, call 877-328-2722 or visit crabandcruise.com.
Also beginning in June, revel in a cruise and crab feast at Captain Tyler’s Crab House. Start off with crab cakes, soft crabs, all you can eat steamed crabs and all the sides along with beer and soda, and Smith Island cake for dessert. After dinner, set sail aboard the Chelsea Lane, and enjoy the beautiful Chesapeake scenery and a raw bar. Make a full evening of it by spending spend the night at Captain Tyler Motel or Cove B&B. For more information, call 410-968-2220.
It’s not all cruises and crab feasts in Crisfield. On June 22, the town celebrates its 4th annual Saturday Bay Stroll and Church Social. Local churches join together for the occasion, along with regional artists and vendors. A week later, on June 29, Somers Cove hosts the 2nd Annual Marina Mac Fest, a celebration of local notable Charlie “Mac” McClenahan, featuring live music, vendors and food.
Crisfield celebrates Independence Day on July 6 with Freedom Fest, a free, family-oriented festival hosted by the American Legion. Freedom Fest, held in Somers Cove, features food, live music, arts and crafts, military appreciation events and kids activities. An evening of fireworks caps the celebration.
Crabs and politics
The annual J. Millard Tawes Crab & Clam Bake — always the third Wednesday in July, this year July 17 — is a “Maryland must-attend, see-and-be-seen political institution, equal parts seafood and schmooze.” The annual celebration honors Crisfield native, J. Millard Tawes, Maryland’s 54th governor. Frommers Travel Guides describe the festivity as “an outdoor all-you-can-eat affair featuring crabs, clams, fish, corn on the cob and watermelon, and in election years, lots of politicians.” Started as a fundraiser for the J. Millard Tawes Historical Museum, the Chamber of Commerce today uses the proceeds to fund projects that benefit the Crisfield Heritage Foundation; Crisfield’s schools, police and fire departments; The Lions/Lioness Club; and other civic organizations and community efforts. For more information, contact the Crisfield Area Chamber of Commerce, 410-968-2500/800-782-3913, or visit crisfieldchamber.com. Advance tickets are recommended.
If you want to try catching your own crabs, the store at Somers Cove Marina will supply chicken necks for bait and rent a net to use to scoop up the “beautiful swimmers.” Visitors can learn the different ways the local watermen harvest crabs. Somers Cove can also arrange professional charters for crabbing, fishing, or simply enjoying a cruise on the bay.
Reed Hellman is a professional writer living in Alberton, Md. Visit his website at reedhellmanwordsmith.com.