Celebrate the king of Andros at Crab Fest
There’s been a steady stream of rain in the country for the past two weeks – that means the crabs have been crawling big time, and the organizers of the All Andros Crab Fest are more than ready for the thousands of people they expect to trek through the gates over the two-day festival at Queen’s Park.
“All roads lead to Fresh Creek in Central Andros,” said Peter Douglas, chairman of Crab Fest and one of the original founders of the event that will take place Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 on the island referred to as the land of crabs.
While many people will sail or fly into Andros on the Saturday morning, for Androsians, and visitors already on the island, the party for the 16th version of the affair kicks off on Thursday, June 13, known as All-Andros night, highlighting local Androsian bands – New Agenda and the Potomac – and local deejays spinning all Andros music, priming the people already present for the big show.
Ira Storr and the Spank Band lead off the activities on the Friday, of the much-anticipated festival to which the gates open at 4 p.m. Geno D., Veronica Bishop, Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie and Elon Moxey will keep people’s feet moving throughout the day with their hits. And according to Douglas, the party does not shut down for the night. As long as people are partying, the chairman said they go straight through into the next day.
“We don’t shut down. We go straight into Saturday. It’s a non-stop party and that’s why we can only have it for two days — ‘cause it takes us a month to catch ourselves,” he said.
For those that don’t leave the site and for those that return early Saturday morning, breakfast will be available.
“On Saturday morning, everyone can get their boiled fish, crab soup, conch stew … whatever they want for breakfast … they can have boiled crab and Kalik for breakfast because Kalik is celebrating big time with us for their 25th year,” said Douglas.
After eating their breakfast fill, Douglas said the day’s activities jump-off to accommodate the people coming into the island on day-away boats and who will arrive as early as 9 a.m. to the sounds of Andros deejay music and entertainment and local bands taking their second turn in the spotlight.
And while Douglas says he knows most people want to don their Sunday-go-to-meeting best for the day, he wants them to slip on sandals and wear their crab clothes so that they could participate comfortably in the competitions scheduled for the fantastic prizes up for grabs. From a watermelon eating contest, onion peeling contest, crab clipping contest, crab catching contest, to a crab eating contest, Douglas said it’s going to be messy, but fun and worth the prizes that will be won.
“You ain’t’ going downtown and you ain’t going over to P.I., you’re coming to Andros, so bring your slippers and your crab clothes.”
The organizers of the annual festival that is held the second week in June are also proud of their eco-corner sponsored by the Andros Conservancy and Trust, featuring a display of things they are doing to protect in the Androsian environment and the unique species and wildlife on the island.
Kiddies also have their own corner in that area where they can interact with marine life, learn about plants and do interactive stuff.
On average, the All Andros Crab Fest attracts between 8,000 and 10,000 people passing through their gates annually. Douglas said they expect to put up the same numbers again this year. This year, he said there would be ample tents and umbrellas under which people can seek shelter and rest.
“It will be much more comfortable than in previous years,” he said.
A $5 fee is assessed for each day’s entry.
“We are keeping it cheap. These hard, economic times, we don’t want to hurt anybody,” said Douglas.
In a unique twist, people attending this year’s Crab Fest on the Friday will get to see and hear from Mr. Billie, the Seminole Indians’ chief, who will speak to Androsians about their Seminole Indian history. According to Douglas, the entire north and central Andros have Seminole blood.
“[Mr. Billie’s appearance] is important to Crab Fest because we’re celebrating our 40th year of independence, and we need to get people to know the rich heritage [and] culture of Andros, and one of our rich cultural heritage that separates us from the rest of The Bahamas is our Indian heritage,” said Douglas. “[Mr. Billie] will be bringing his cultural dancers and his medicine man, and he will be speaking to the crowd. The Seminole Indians came here with their chief – Billie Bowleg during the Seminole Wars in Florida. He fled Florida with his tribe by canoe and landed at Red Bays, Andros. This was proven in a doctorate thesis penned by Rosalyn Howard of Central Florida State University, and we always wanted them to come down and retrace their roots and heritage and connect with us, and now this is the beginning of the process,” he said.
Douglas said the Native Indians of North America prefer to remain low key, and he said it took a lot to get them to come to Andros for Crab Fest.