Sometimes the best thing at the end of a long day road-tripping is just getting out of your vehicle and finding a good party with the locals.
Myrtle Beach has you covered. The town of Little River, S.C., on the north end of Myrtle Beach, is home to the annual Blue Crab Festival, a world famous, two-day community party each May that celebrates the Atlantic’s best shellfish.
And it’s huge. The festival is held on Grand Strand and usually draws over 50,000 people. It’s a great way to experience local culture, try the best of the local seafood, including its famous blue crabs, and converse with other people. Like most community gatherings, the Blue Crab Festival has booths that showcase all kinds of regional flavor, like arts and crafts, cuisine, entertainment and kids activities.
This year, the festival runs May 14-15 and will have enough to do and eat to keep you busy and full for hours.
Get your own blue crab
But what if your trip to Myrtle Beach happens later in the summer? Never fear. You can fish for your own blue crabs and throw your own little crab fest sitting just outside your trailer in your campground.
You’ll need some gear so you’ll want to find a good, friendly bait and tackle shop. You need them to tell you where to find the best local spots to fish for blue crab and they’ll be more willing to do it if you buy your gear from their shop. The most important item you need is something called a crab rig – essentially a large, weighted metal clip tied to sturdy string that holds a chunk of bait. You’ll also need a bucket, a dipping net and some ice.
With that, head out to your spot – coastal bridges and channels can be great locations – set up your bait and give it a good toss into the water. Holding onto the string (the locals wrap it around an empty pop bottle), wait for the crab to tug on the bait and then gently draw in your cast, quickly scooping up the crab before you pull it from the surface of the water.
Now that you’ve got four or five crabs, it’s time to head back and cook them up. While your water boils – you want it to be a pot big enough to comfortably hold your crabs without crowding them – you scrub your crabs clean. Use gloves and tongs; blue crabs are aggressive. To your water, add in a spoonful or two of Old Bay Seasoning, a good splash of vinegar and some sea salt. Boil the crabs for 10-15 minutes. They’re done when they turn a bright red orange.
It might be the best meal of your trip.