Volunteer corn cook Xavion Mason of Bakersfield, Calif., adds fresh ears to a boiler behind the scenes at the 2019 Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Volunteer corn cook Xavion Mason of Bakersfield, Calif., adds fresh ears to a boiler behind the scenes at the 2019 Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

CrabFest retools for 2021

Vendors, music and of course, dinners planned

PORT ANGELES — The Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival is back this year, promising a delicious and COVID-safe event.

The festivities will run Friday through Sunday at the Port Angeles City Pier and The Gateway center, and they will spill off into the Red Lion Hotel parking lot.

All three areas are at the northern foot of Linclon Street around Railroad Avenue.

Festival hours from are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with dinner served beginning at 11 a.m.

Admission to the festival is free, but tickets are needed for crab dinners and cooked crabs.

Tickets are on sale here. A whole crab dinner is $39 or $34 for active military and family with ID. A half-crab dinner is available for $20. All are served with fresh corn and coleslaw.

Curbside pickup also is offered for the crab dinners, as well as cleaned, cooked and wrapped chilled Dungeness crabs for $32. “We even have a crab kit with bibs and crab crackers,” CrabFest Executive Director Scott Nagel said; that crab-to-go kit is $5.

CrabFest, like many festival events, was canceled last year due to COVID-19 safety concerns. It has been modified to be as safe as possible this year, Nagel said, with a variety of sponsors, including the Peninsula Daily News.

“We’ve made changes and accommodations for COVID-19,” Nagel said.

“With guidance from local health leaders, we have made changes for this year that include reducing the scale of the crab festival complex to spread everything out to use our 3-acre site,” he said.

“There will be plenty of seating, outdoors and under canopies. There will be no walls for maximum natural airflow, spread out tables for four to six people for less crowding … hand sanitizers will be on every table, with additional handwashing stations and line management.”

The central tent has been reduced to 50 percent capacity.

“Masks are required by order of the governor, but vaccinations are not required,” because event spaces are outdoors, Nagel said.

All of these plans have been approved by the Clallam County Health Department, Nagel said.

Some traditional events have been canceled because of space and sanitation issues.

Among them are the welcoming ceremony by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Crab Derby event, a favorite for families with children, because of the inability to assure sanitization and spacing, especially among the young participants, many of whom cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 yet.

However, many other activities remain.

More than 70 vendors will attend. Among them will be booths manned by 11 local restaurants serving up everything from crab cakes to clam chowder along with local dessert, beer and wine.

Arts and crafts booths will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Entertainment is planned at the Air-Flo Heating Stage Main Stage in the central tent in the evenings and on Sunday afternoon, and on the Windemere Pier Stage from about 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

On Saturday, Peninsula College will benefit from a fun run at 11 a.m. on Olympic Discovery Trail. To register for the run, which is open to all ages, go here.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard is scheduled to perform a search and rescue demonstration; if it has to be postponed, the demonstration will be at the same time on Sunday.

New this year will be The Claw, First Fed’s Gateway Bistro, conducted in the open air with food and a wine and beer garden.

Festival attendance

CrabFest typically draws in a crowd of 20,000 each year, but due to COVID-19, Nagel expects attendance to be down.

“Generally, festival attendance is down, often 30 to 40 percent, so we’re assuming that attendance will drop by about that much and have adjusted our budget accordingly,” Nagel said.

Some of that attendance loss will be due to the U.S. closure of its border with Canada. In a typical year, more than 3,000 Canadians come over on the Coho ferry from Victoria for the festival.

That won’t happen this year. But that could open up the festival to more of the region’s residents, Nagel believes.

“What this does is create a great opportunity for local folks, because typically it’s so crowded that a lot of people just stay out of downtown,” Nagel said.

“We hope for a great crowd, but it won’t be as crowded as a typical year.”

While the hope is for increased local turnout, Nagel understands some cannot attend the festival. Therefore, a curbside option is being offered as well.

Curbside pickup

“Crab lovers who are unable to eat at the festival can savor the most important part of CrabFest at home with curbside pickup,” Nagel said.

Pickups will be made in the Transit Center bus lanes next to the The Gateway.

It is highly recommended that the crab dinners be ordered ahead of time at crabfestival.org for those attending or participating in curbside pickup.

Curbside pickup will be available from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It will not be offered on Sunday.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
John and Darcy McTernan of Kirkland enjoy a crab dinner in the 2019 Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival.

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