WEST WYOMING — Local patrons will have an opportunity to learn why Baltimore, Maryland is known for delicious crabs when the Wyoming Rotary Club holds its fourth annual crabfest on Friday, Oct. 2. In addition to all-you-can-eat Baltimore hardshell crabs, the event will feature clam chowder, hot dogs, pizza and refreshments.
Club member Mark Sobeck started the event because he wanted to bring something different to the Wyoming Valley.
“The whole Valley has maybe three crabfests the whole year, so it’s something unique,” Sobeck said. “Personally, I remember when I was 10 years old I went to a family reunion in Baltimore and they took us to a place where they dumped baskets of crabs on the table. We all just sat around having fun, breaking the caps and legs and I’ve been addicted to crab eating ever since.”
Sobeck pointed out that various restaurants in the country sell crabs, but what makes Baltimore crabs unique is the shell cap is not removed and they’re smothered in Old Bay seasoning. Some restaurants serve crabs without any shelling, he said, but Baltimore style is when the customer removes the cap themselves, cleans it and breaks the limbs with nutcrackers and hammers.
Sobeck described the sound as music to his ears.
The crabfest, Sobeck said, has sold out every year and seats 175 people in the West Wyoming Hose Co. No. 1 hall, where the event is held.
The event runs from 6 to 10 p.m., but that doesn’t stop people from arriving early.
“A line is usually lined up 20 minutes before it starts because crab eaters are salivating, and some people show up with their own tools and spices,” he said. “We’re going to have a restaurant raffle with a board with $50 raffle tickets to various restaurants and then after that everyone takes a seat and then we start handing out the crabs. We hand them out using welders gloves and hand them out as fast as possible and then all of the hot food is there for people to help themselves to all night long. For hours, all you hear is great conversations and hammering while people just sit around, talk and have fun for hours. The socialization that goes with it is amazing.”
The crabs are already cooked, Sobeck said, so all he and the club members do is shop for the other food and refreshments, set up the fire hall the night before and clean up afterwards.
Proceeds for the event go towards numerous charities, including fire departments, libraries and ambulance associations within the Wyoming Valley.
The event is something the Wyoming Rotary Club looks forward to every year.
“It’s an event that brings our entire club out because everyone not only enjoys raising money, but they enjoy making a room full of people happy for four hours on a Friday night,” he said. “People phone in reservations of 20 and 30 people at once because they have their crab-loving roots.”