Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival

Left: Port Angeles waterfront. Right: Fisherman working the crab cleaning station. Photos: Sherri Martin

For the past eleven years, Port Angeles has been host to one of the most unique annual festivals in the Pacific Northwest. The Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival transforms the city’s downtown waterfront district into a three-day celebration, with local Dungeness crab showcased as the star.

Having a laugh while cleaning the crabs

The festival brings together the best of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer in local food, drink, art, and music. All the venues are within walking distance of each other for the festival-goer to indulge and explore. The crab, of course, is the highlight for most. Those who don the crab bib, pull up a chair at the communal long tables and start cracking shells with strangers will tell you it is not only an exhilarating experience but also fresh as fresh can get.

This year under the Crab Central Tent were nine participating local restaurants, each presenting their own seafood and crab specialties to complement the almighty crustacean. Local craft beer and wines quench your thirst, allowing you to sip your way around the tent, humming along to the live music on stage while deciding on your next taste. The classic thick and creamy crab bisque from Toga’s Soup House alone is enough to keep me returning year after year. The shrimp and crab ceviche from Sergio’s Hacienda had the perfect balance of zesty and sweet with a bright flavor paired with the crunch of the homemade tostada. The crab cakes from the Dungeness Crab Cake Co. did not disappoint and served as the perfect warm up for the main event.

Under the Crab Central Tent

The crab meal, which is referred to as the Crab Feed, is offered as a full or half crab portion (depending on how much work you want to do). It is served with local Sunny Farms corn on the cob, Nash’s Organic Coleslaw and (of course!) the butter. As you wait in the lengthy but moving line up, you can watch how the crabs are being prepared in a continuous assembly line of ‘Crab Crew’ volunteers. The crabs are brought in live and cooked on site with the option of steamed or chilled. They are cleaned and cut by the fisherman over a steamy tub of the compostable remains and then sent right to your plate. This is the real deal for crab lovers – rustic, simple, fresh and delicious.

You can stroll up one block to the Gateway Centre where you will find a different kind of culinary display. Viewers can watch and learn from a dozen local chefs demonstrating techniques and recipes on the live cooking stage. Indulgences continue nearby with sweet or savory crepes prepared by J’aime Les Crepes, made to order and (judging by the line-ups) a favourite pick. This year Wine on the Waterfront cooked a traditional Seafood Paella prepared twice daily in an authentic pan direct from the birthplace of Paella in Valencia, Spain. There is also wine tasting hosted by Olympic Peninsula Wineries to sip and savour as you take it all in.

Once you’ve had your fill and are in need a digestive break, walk over to the pier and browse the sixty Craft and Merchant vendors. Here you will be tempted with everything from locally made balsamic vinegars, to your own personal crab trap, to brilliant hand blown glass pieces. You can also try your hand at the always-busy Crab Derby where you can try to catch a live crab to take away with you as a souvenir.

This festival keeps doing it up right year after year, keeping the crowds coming back in hungry droves. The tireless volunteers, genuinely proud of the three-day event they work so hard to put on, run the majority of the event. If you are a crab and seafood lover, you cannot go wrong with indulging and supporting this unique and tasteful Northwest experience.


The Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival website

Always the second full weekend in October


Word and Pictures by: Sherri Martin


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