By: Emily Johnson
St. Marks, FL- The City of St. Marks held it's annual Stone Crab Festival Saturday. The festival has become a tradition for the town since the late nineties and for one restaurant owner he can recall when it first started. "It was the right time of the year and this was the season when the stone crab season starts and we just decided we would have a stone crab day," said Stanley West of Riverside Cafe.
The city has recently renovated the downtown with new sidewalks and street lights and the community has liked the changes. "Oh they love it. Oh they use the sidewalks all the time. We also have the bike trail here We have two parks. We have a boat ramp, we have the fort. We're just coming alive," said City Manager Zoe A. Mansfield.
People at the festival were not only able to enjoy the downtown face lift and local musicians, but also a parade and children’s activities. Of course though the main attraction was the stone crab. If you have never eaten the seafood favorite it's worth your try. "The stone crabs are like the delicacy of lobster. That's what you can compare them too. Their big pieces of meat that are in the claws are they're just as tasting as can be," said West.
There wasn't just locals at the festival. People come from all over the Big Bend enjoyed the fun and I even ran into a group from out of state. "Looks like we're going to be coming back too. It's a beautiful day, and a beautiful place. The foods awesome," said Tennessee Resident Mark Dublin.
The Stone Crab Festival had their largest showing last year with 12,000 people. I was told by the committee that they were estimating around the same size crowd this year.
The St. Marks Stone Crab Festival, Inc. is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) operated by a group of volunteers. Proceeds from the festival are given as charitable donations to organizations in St. Marks and the surrounding area.