On most days of the year, any crabs you see at Berret’s Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill are safely in a pot or on your plate. During Berret’s annual Crab Race, though, these critters are scuttling across a race track on the lawn for a good cause – to raise money for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).
On Sept. 1, Berret’s is hosting its 23rd Annual Crab Race that pits dozens of crabs against one another in an epic battle to see which can cross (or find) the finish line first. Since the races first started, the restaurant has collected about $25,000 to help the CBF in its mission to protect the waters and creatures of the Chesapeake Bay.
According to owner Tom Austin, he was inspired to start the race after going to Crisfield, Md., to watch its annual National Hard Crab Derby – an event that boasts hundreds of blue crabs racing towards a finish line before a huge audience.
“I wanted to do something for the Chesapeake Crab Foundation, and I heard about this weekend-long festival in Crisfield with a crab race,” says Austin. “I went there to watch and I took some pictures, and then I went home and built a track to duplicate it. It’s just a really fun thing to watch.”
People or groups can sponsor blue crabs, supplied by Berret’s, at the upcoming Williamsburg race, or they can bring their own crab to race – any species is welcome. Prizes are given not only for winners of each heat, but also for best crab name and even cutest crab (no need to scuttle fast and ruin a lovely shell paint job or risk losing a hat; it’s better for some crabs to just look fabulous for their fans).
Austin says the race’s charm is that “it’s just plain silly,” but sometimes crab sponsors get a little too distracted by the glory of winning. “When people get too serious I have to remind them – hey, this is just crabs, it’s just for fun.” So far, no one has come to blows.
The CBF will have a booth set up at the race.
Folks can sponsor a crab for $10, $25 or $50. Pick up an entry form at the restaurant any time between now and race day; call Berret’s at 253-1847 with questions. The race starts at 6 p.m.
“It’s for a good cause, and it’s lots of fun,” says Austin. “Bring the family!”