oils-and-water_tThe third annual Stone Crab Eating Contest for amateur eaters is set for Saturday, Oct. 19 in Marathon, Florida Keys.

Staged at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, located at 35th Street gulfside, the lively consumption competition is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Entrants must register and be present by 12 p.m. the day of the event.

Contestants are tasked with cracking and eating 25 succulent stone crab claws, picking them completely clean in the fastest time. Although they are provided with shell crackers, entrants also can smack the shell gently with the back of a large spoon — Keys our-discovery-channel_tresidents’ secret tool for claw cracking.

Prizes for the top three finishers in the crab-consuming contest include two-night vacation getaways, gift certificates from Keys Fisheries Restaurant and a Dolphin Dip encounter at the Dolphin Research Center.

Interested eaters are encouraged to register early. The entry fee is $20 per contestant until Oct. 1 and $25 per person after that date. Contestants must be at least 18 years old.

Stone crab season runs from October 15-May 15 annually.

About 40 percent of the state’s annual stone crab harvest of nearly 3 million pounds comes from Keys waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That makes the region Florida’s top supplier of the world-renowned delicacy, considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to regrow harvested claws.

Commercially harvested in Florida since the 1930s, hundreds of thousands of pounds of stone crab claws are steamed, cracked and served at local markets and restaurants, and transported around the nation.

 Event registration information: www.keysfisheries.com

Marathon visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/marathon or 1-800-262-7284
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