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The Good, the Bad, the Delicious: Rotary Crab Feast

Aug 05, 2013 10:11AM ● By August Schwartz

The Rotary Club of Annapolis hosted its 68th annual Crab Feast this weekend at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. We refuse to miss an event that involves crabs and cold draft beer and supports the community, so we were there with bells on.

The Good. The Crab Feast is a well-oiled machine. We suppose being in its seventh decade is one of the many reasons, but if you haven’t been we must attend next year—we really can’t rave about it enough.

Parking and Design. First of all, the parking is free—and there is no shortage of it at the stadium. And the layout is perfection. As soon as you enter and get your wristband you can head straight to the crab serving area, followed by the beer stand, and further along the perimeter, the rest of the feast including barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, and all the other goodies your out-of-town guests can fill up on when they’ve given up on crab picking. The dessert stand (which raises additional funds through incredibly low-priced cakes and brownies) is at the end.

Friendly, Knowledgeable Volunteers. The place is packed—but after two seconds of surveying the room for a table, you’re sure to be approached by one of (what seems like the million) Rotary men or women in red, who will happily direct you to an open spot.  Ask them anything about the event, I dare you—most of them have been working it for at least the past ten years, some 20 or even 30. They have it down to a science. The most laidback, delicious science you can imagine. The lines are minimal, the food is delicious, and the company is fantastic. Sitting elbow to elbow at long tables, you’re sure to meet your neighbors and in my experience, they’re a friendly bunch. This year I met a couple who’d recently graduated from the Naval Academy, and a gentleman from Washington, D.C., and his guests from all over the world. The world!

The bad. Boy is it warm. The shade from the stadium cools the space, and there’s no question that the traditional date—the first Friday in August—is the perfect time of year to pick crabs. It was actually a pretty gorgeous night, and in many areas of the space it was perfectly cool; but under the tents, a little muggy. Not “somebody-bring-me-a-wind-machine” muggy, but we were pining for a light breeze. Still, we didn’t exactly suffer: In the absence of fans, cold beer and cool watermelon (an unexpected treat) help, too.  

The delicious. The crabs were packed and heavy. Some of the best I’ve had all year, for sure, which is not often the case in all-you-can-eat situations. The Rotary Club does not skimp on quality for quantity—there was plenty of both. However—and here is my plea—we tried something called a “Tri-Level Brownie” from the dessert station that I have been dreaming about ever since. Cake-like brownies with rice krispies maybe (?) on the bottom, a fudgey brownie in the middle, topped with a chocolate-fudgey frosting—they were amazing. If you’re reading this, and you know who made them, please help us find the recipe! They are exactly what our office potlucks are missing.

The numbers. Last year the Crab Feast enabled the Rotary to dole out $43,400 in grants to 25 different local organizations. That’s a whole lot of good. We can’t wait to hear the tally from this year—which, according to the Rotary’s website, included about 2,500 people, 320 bushels of crabs, 3,400 ears of corn, 1,800 hot dogs, and so much more.

For more information on the crab feast, or the Annapolis Rotary, visit