Crabs, Clams, and . . . Congressmen?

Crabs, Clams, and . . . Congressmen?

Seafood & Schmoozing

An annual event in the tiny town of Crisfield, Maryland (pop. 2630), draws hordes of both politicians and ordinary folks who just love seafood.  It’s the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake, and it takes place every year, always on the third Wednesday of July.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield maryland

I’m not sure why exactly it’s such a big political event.  Perhaps because it bears the name of a Crisfield native and former Governor of Maryland, J. Millard Tawes. The event originated as a fundraiser for the J. Millard Tawes Historical Museum and other than the former Governor’s name, it had no political association. But today, and especially in election years, the grounds are littered with political signs.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield maryland

Politically, the Clam Bake is such a big deal that last year, the Maryland Governor Larry Hogan went to the Clambake instead of the Republican National Convention.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield maryland

Even this year, when there are very few elections, the politicians were out in force.

I’ve gone the past two years and I have to say that there’s nothing like it. Local businesses set up tents as makeshift hospitality suites; these tents cover the marina parking lot. Visitors pay $45 a ticket for all you can eat crabs, clams, corn, watermelon, fries, and all you care to drink soda, water, and beer.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield maryland

And by the way, when I say crabs, I am talking about Maryland blue crabs.  They are the best crabs you can get anywhere, better than Dungeness, King, Peekytoe, or Snow.  I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise! Blue Crabs have a subtle sweetness to their meat, and if you combine it with the fiery tang of some Old Bay seasoning, well, it’s nothing short of magnificent. (And by the way, if you enjoy Old Bay on your crabs, you should bring some to the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake – they don’t put it on their crabs.) You don’t need to bring any crab picking tools with you, though – they give all attendees a knife and mallet when they enter, along with a commemorative glass.

Tawes crab and clam bake crisfield Maryland

You’ll also want to bring a cardboard box.  You’ll use it to carry your crabs from the food stand back to your table.  The lids from copy paper boxes seem to be the favorite method because they are shallow but wide.

If you’re a guest in one of the sponsored tents, you can eat there without the hassle because “runners” will go get the food and bring it to you.  (Much better than having to wait in line, I can assure you.)

It always seems like the day of the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake is one of the hottest days of the summer. If you go, be prepared to sweat a lot.  Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, and be sure to visit the tents where local businesses have promotional items to give away. Many will have personal size fans, cooling cloths, and hand fans.

The Tawes Crab and Clam Bake is one of those unique events that makes Maryland a great place to visit. If you’re in Maryland mid-July, consider attending!

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