ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – One of Kodiak’s biggest attractions this time of year is the Kodiak Crab Festival, which serves to kick off the island’s summer. With five days of festivities leading up to Memorial Day, this year’s theme is “Kodiak Gathering for 65 Years.”
“It’s the culmination of the end of school and the start of summer, and our fishing fleet for salmon fishing and the end of crab season as well,” said festival manager Jenna Lowmaster.
This year there are games, races, competitions, dozens of vendors – and it all started to celebrate the end of the crab season, hence the name.
It’s been a staple of Kodiak’s calendar since 1958, only then called the Crab Festival, which began as a small celebration of a large emerging industry.
“This was a way for Kodiak to help promote the crabbing industry to people outside of Kodiak and Alaska as a whole and really give the rest of the world a wider experience of what crabbing is all about,” Lowmaster said.
But eventually the king crab industry in Kodiak declined and other crab fisheries grew, so the “king” was dropped from the name and became the Kodiak Crab Festival it is today.
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“We have several crab vendors this year, and we always have some kind of crab. “Unfortunately, we don’t have as many crabs as we have in previous years, but it’s more about the offerings that the fishing industry brings to the community and the offerings that the ocean provides to the Kodiak community as a whole,” Lowmaster said. .
There are a few new faces on the market this year – but it’s been quite a journey to get here. Ben Butcher, owner of Expedition BBQ, says the trip was well worth it.
“The ferry ride was a bit noisy, between 2 and 4 a.m. it was really rough,” Bacher said. “I was glad they went into the bay to protect us from the waves.” It’s such a unique thing that you could throw it on a ferry and sail to the middle of an island in Alaska and have a barbecue. It’s pretty unique.”
And while there are no rides this year, there are still fun activities for everyone to enjoy.
“Kodiak has a very strong sense of community, of coming out and supporting everyone, and it’s a great time to come out, have a good time, go out and enjoy the parade rain or shine,” Lowmaster said. “Honestly, this is my third or fourth crab festival, and people come out when it’s raining sideways, no matter what. So everybody comes out, you put on your rain gear, and it’s a good time.”
Thursday marks the first day of the festival, but there are plenty of fun activities over the next few days, including traditional Alutiiq dance performances, a fishermen’s memorial, the popular survival suit race and, of course, the grand parade on Saturday.
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