Each Monday and Thursday night, the Crow’s Nest transforms from its quiet happy island pub into arguably the greatest event on Captiva. Heck, one might be daring enough to even label it as the greatest Monday and Thursday night event in Southwest Florida.
More fun than both the Kentucky Derby and the Daytona 500 combined, the crab races of Captiva Island are bound to keep everybody of all ages on the edge of their seats in riveting and downright exciting fun.
The ring master of all this madness is none other than the self-appointed “Crab Commissioner”. The Crab Commissioner keeps everyone entertained with his quick humor and on the fly witty remarks. Not to mention his play-by-play announcing and color commentary are nothing short of pure announcing art.
So how do the crab races work?
Each Monday and Thursday night, there are two show races. The first race is at 6 o’clock and is much more of a family-oriented performance. All the jokes and humor are kept at PG level and kids are encouraged to get involved with the show. The show after that takes place at 9 o’clock and is much more adult flavored. The humor is raunchier, the jokes drip of dry sarcasm and the laughs get louder and louder.
Getting involved with the show it’s something you’ll definitely want to do. Get there as early as 4:30 and try to reserve a seat at the racing table. Those who sit at the table have the important job of gently catching the crabs as they cross the finish line. That is, of course, if you’re okay with touching the crabs themselves. No, they don’t pinch too hard.
The next thing you want to do is bet on a crab. You can go to the Crab Commissioner before the race and tell him you’d like to bet on one. The Crab Commissioner will then ask you to name your crab. You can name it virtually whatever you would like. There’s a small price to pay for the naming rights of the crab, but half the proceeds go to The United Way.
After that, you play the waiting game. It’s a perfect time to grab something to eat quick from the grill or a drink from the bar. The Crow’s Nest has a diverse selection of dishes and beverages to choose from. There’s no wrong answer on what to get.
You’ll know when the race begins, because the mighty sea conch will be blown. It’s like the “horn of Gondor” signaling to all restaurant patrons that the best event on the Gulf Coast is about to begin.
Everyone then crowds around a little table and the Crab Commissioner begins explaining what exactly is about to transpire. Not to mention, he’ll set the tone for the rest of the night with his humor and quick radio soundbite drops that add to the hilarity. From there, a large sack is then placed in the middle of the table. That sack is filled with all the crabs that are competing in the race. Once he says go, the crabs are released from the sack and the race begins.
That’s when the excitement happens, all the crabs scrambling every direction not knowing what’s going on, but we humans know what’s going on and were yelling at them to run to the edge of the table to cross the finish line and claim glory. If your crab happens to be one of the winners, you win a small prize and qualify for the grand finale race at the end. In the final race, the top three crabs to cross the finish line win a percentage of the pot that was paid before the race.
After the race is over, you’ll want to thank the Crab Commissioner for hosting a clean race and giving it his all. Then you’ll want to buy a T-Shirt or some type of merchandise. That way, you have something tangible to carry from this unforgettable evening. Not to mention, a shirt that reads “Crab Races” is a great conversation starter.