Construction and the final stages of planning are underway for the 28th annual Blue Crab Festival, which, for many Putnam County residents, is synonymous with Memorial Day weekend.
From 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Riverfront Park in Palatka will be home to the festival organizers said could see as many as 100,000 visitors.
Garrett Rudd, the festival committee food and commercial vendor coordinator, said festival workers are too busy to take an official count of everyone who visits the festival. But a few years ago, he said, there were an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 people enjoying Blue Crab Festival.
And hopefully, the trend will continue this year, he said.
“We’ve got a bigger carnival than we’ve had for the past few years,” Rudd said.
This week, crews have been erecting 18 carnival rides festival attendees can enjoy this weekend.
But there’s more to the festival than just rides, Rudd said. Eighty arts and crafts vendors are expected to be at the festival, Rudd said, and there are about 80 commercial vendors as well.
The festival will also boast live entertainment, a beer and liquor tent, fireworks and a wide variety of food, most notably blue crabs.
Rudd said there would be separate tents for live entertainment, food and lounging, and liquor and beer.
Organizers last year noticed there wasn’t a space for people to simply sit, eat and enjoy the view of the river, which is why they chose to add a food tent, Rudd said.
“We’re doing the liquor bar again,” he said. “There’s a big seating tent away from the main music tent. Then there will be a smaller tent that serves alcohol. They’re all in the same general area, but they’re separate.”
As for vendors, Rudd said, organizers wanted to get as wide of a variety as they could so they could appeal to children, adults and families.
This year, there will crafts, music, T-shirt and other types of vendors and numerous styles of food so people won’t feel like each vendor is offering more of the same, Rudd said.
“We don’t want too many of the same thing,” he said. “We try to make sure we have a variety.”
The Blue Crab Festival, one of the county’s largest events, has been a mainstay in Palatka for almost three decades.
Rudd attributes the festival’s popularity with its locale, variety of activities and abundance of seafood. And hopefully, he said, the love of the festival will carry on for years to come.
“For us, it’s a great location – right by the river,” Rudd said. “We have a solid theme of blue crabs and seafood. Plus, the carnival and fireworks.”
For Blue Crab Festival information, visit bluecrabvestival.com or call 983-9772.