PORT ANGELES — The turnout at the 20th Annual Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival has surprised its executive director.
“Turnout has been way beyond expectations,” said Scott Nagel, executive director of the annual event known locally as the CrabFest.
Attendance is down from prior years when Canadians filled the Coho ferry to travel to the festival — an estimated 30 percent to 40 percent less, he said — but with local residents and visitors from the Interstate-5 corridor, the grounds have been crowded despite the closure of the border to Canadians, he said.
“We are so excited that people have shown up in these great numbers,” Nagel said. “Nobody knew what would happen with Covid and everything else and all the problems, but we knew we wanted to put on something for the community as we have done every year for 20 years.”
A popular feature this year has been Dungeness crab dinners offered for curbside pickup, with some 2,500 being ordered in advance, he said.
He said early Saturday afternoon that he expected to sell all 5,000 crab dinners — and perhaps run out late today, the final day of the three-day festival. In past years, the festival would have expected to sell about 8,000 dinners, he said
In an effort to keep Crabfest as Covid safe as possible Nagel and other organizers spread out the festivities among 3 acres of waterfront property to include the Red Lion parking lot, Gateway Center and the City of Port Angeles Pier at the north end of Lincoln Street where it meets Railroad Avenue.
They also instituted social distancing and other safety measures, all of which visitors have cooperated with, Nagel said.
“It’s been no problem,” he said. “People are just having a good time.”
The event continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with vendors, live music, a wine-and-beer garden and crab and other delicacies.