After a year off, the World Famous Blue Crab Festival in Little River is getting ready to host the hungry masses.
The 39th annual blue crab fest was originally scheduled for 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Little River Chamber of Commerce to cancel both the crab festival and the shrimp festival. The chamber is planning on bringing back both events this year.
The crab festival is scheduled for May 15 and 16 along the Little River waterfront. Tickets are $5 and pandemic precautions will be in place.
“We will be observing and enforcing pandemic protocols,” said chamber president and CEO Jennifer Walters. “We’ll be spacing our vendors six feet apart. We’re not sure what the recommendations will be because a lot of the executive orders don’t go through May. If it’s in place as an executive order or local ordinance, we will enforce it. Whatever is in place we will abide by.”
The festival is scheduled to host 144 vendors who rolled over from last year’s cancelled event, and Walters said they might add up to 50 more. To keep everyone safe, she said the children’s area will be eliminated to make space for vendors to space six feet away from each other.
“We’ve got some wiggle room in some areas that we’re not going to be using for their original purpose,” she added.
Vendors include those peddling arts and crafts, non-profit and civic organizations, and of course, food.
This year, tall cocktail tables that are cleaned between use will replace the big community dining tent to encourage social distancing. And, Walters said, food vendors will wear masks and gloves and have hand sanitizer at each booth. If there are crowd size restrictions, the festival will follow those guidelines as well.
Around 20,000 people came to the crab fest in 2019, and the Little River chamber estimates the crab fest and shrimp fest combined have a $4.25 million impact on Horry County’s economy each year.
Bringing back the crab fest will give a boost to Little River businesses who, like others around the county, have been struggling since the pandemic hit.
The crab fest tends to help out restaurants and grocery stores in the area as folks come for the festivals and spend the night, Walters said adding that the impact is felt around the entirety of Little River, not just the waterfront. “Pretty much everyone benefits.”
Walters said updates on the event will be published on their website.