By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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“As the Coast Guard air-sea rescue wraps up and the lunch rush of the Crab Festival tent is over, it is time to usher in 'Community Dollar Off Sunday' at the festival and help us empty our shelves,” Scott Nagel, the festival's executive director, has said.
Nagel said that from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., attendees will get $1 off every food item or combination of items costing $5 or more — which includes wine and beer — as well as festival sportswear.
The festival opens at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. today
Special activities, in addition to lots of good food in Crab Center in the Red Lion Hotel parking lot at 221 N. Lincoln St. and from vendors on City Pier, are:
■ Crab Revival, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at The Gateway pavilion, Front and Lincoln streets.
Music will be performed by the Peninsula Men's Gospel Singers, father and son Michael and David Rivers, and the gospel-folk duo Standing on Shoulders, featuring Abby Mae Latson.
Breakfast will be laid out along with the music: a la carte items from The Cedars at Dungeness and J'aime les Crepes, served under The Gateway pavilion.
■ Coast Guard air-sea rescue demonstration, 2 p.m. off City Pier.
Helicopter and patrol boats will be involved in the demonstration.
■ Cooking demonstrations, all free from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in The Gateway pavilion.
The demonstrations begin with Port Townsend host and master chef Arran Stark making a surprise dish at 11 a.m.
The schedule continues with Michael McQuay of Port Angeles' Kokopelli Grill cooking whole-fried rockfish with a cilantro garlic fusion gastrique at noon; Bella Italia chef Dave Senters serving a Northwest shellfish risotto at 1 p.m.; Garrett Schack of Victoria cooking Dungeness crab and summer squash doughnuts with spicy bacon aioli at 2 p.m.; Xinh Dwelley of Xinh's Clam and Oyster House in Shelton dishing up a mussel curry with rice plus a geoduck seviche at 3 p.m.; and Craig Alexander, executive chef at Port Angeles' Red Lion, cooking a fried tofu appetizer and a saffron and Dungeness crab risotto at 4 p.m.
■ Live music, also all free from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Music starts with Blackbird's traditional songs at 11 a.m.
The schedule will continue with bluegrass and country with the Old Sidekicks at 12:15 p.m., country rock with Haywire at 1:30 p.m., Brazilian and Caribbean jazz with Tanga at 2:45 p.m., and gospel and folk with Standing on Shoulders at 4 p.m.
For more information, visit www.crabfestival.org.
Peninsula Daily News
Scott Nagel, festival director, said he expected the final tally of attendance at the three-day celebration of good food, music and arts centered around City Pier to be between 10,000 and 15,000 people from nationwide and Canada.
The festival continues today with special events and pricing.
[See Page C1 for more details.]
Volunteers sold more than 800 crab dinners during Friday evening's Community Crab Feed, sponsored by the Peninsula Daily News at Crab Central, a huge tent in the Red Lion Parking lot at 221 N. Lincoln St.
It was the best-attended Friday night crab feed the festival has ever seen, Nagel said Saturday.
“We were packed last night,” Nagel said.
Though West Coast Dungeness crab is currently in incredibly high demand, especially in Asia, Nagel said that did not mean any less crab for the feeds throughout the weekend.
All the crab sold during the weekend was pulled fresh from local waters Friday, Saturday and today, Nagel said, adding that this fact is consistently one of the main reasons people come from all over for the festival.
“It's not the same if it's not fresh,” Nagel said.
Additionally, Nagel said Dungeness crab is one of the main things that unites all the people of the North Olympic Peninsula, especially the native tribes that have relied on it for thousands of years.
“Crab is part of all the communities on the Peninsula,” Nagel said, adding that the festival “has become a very special celebration because of that.”
JoElle Munger, of Sequim, said she brought her daughter Kendra to Port Angeles for her soccer game Saturday morning and toured the festival before they returned to Sequim in the afternoon for her son, Easton's, game.
“So we're multitasking it today,” Munger said as she crouched to get the best shot of Kendra pulling a live Dungeness crab out of a large tank as part of the Crab Derby.
For $5, a person could get a chance to catch a live crab from the Crab Derby tanks set up on the stage at the City Pier and, if they succeeded, pay $17 to have it prepared to take home.
The tanks also contained special tagged crabs, which were free to take home for anyone who caught them.
Munger said her children's favorite part of the festival is the Crab Derby.
“Each time they come, they do their crab fishing,” Munger said.
Kevin Kennedy, the Crab Derby “Captain” for the last 11 years, stood back from the two tanks containing live crab watching people laughing and squealing as they pulled the sputtering, splashing crustaceans from the water.
“I'm just trying to keep this chaos going,” Kennedy said with a laugh.
Kennedy, who is also responsible for managing the team that orders and unloads all the crab for the festival and runs the crab-cleaning stations, said attendance has generally increased over the years, though the weather does sometimes play a factor.
Influx from the north
Kennedy said, though, the hundreds of Canadians who pre-registered for the weekend are seldom turned away by gray and rainy skies.
“The weather doesn't seem to scare them off,” Kennedy said.
Ryan Malane, the marketing director for Black Ball Ferry Lines, confirmed a big influx of Canadians for this year's festival, saying the MV Coho between Port Angeles and Victoria added an extra run this weekend to handle the load.
Malane said this year's surge of Canadians for the festival via the Coho was one of the largest he's seen, with between 700 and 800 pre-registrations this weekend — more than double the numbers from last year.
Malane said the festival usually coincides with Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, when the Coho is scheduled for an extra run per day anyway, but did not this year.
Black Ball Ferry staff members decided this spring an extra run would be needed for the Saturday of CrabFest weekend, and Malane said he's glad they did.
“It's certainly been a fantastic success,” Malane said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at email@example.com.