39th Annual Texas Crab Festival

By J. Lee Austin
To say the 39th Texas Crab Festival was a success would be a good example of understatement writ large. In sharp contrast to last year’s biblically flooded event, this weekend’s merry affair was inundated with good weather and a veritable throng of happy Crabbies out to enjoy the festivities and support the region’s premier charitable gathering.

While much of the peninsula continued to scratch the itch of an especially nasty skeeter hatch and persistent entomological assault, the grounds of the park were essentially free of the little beaked buggers. Great thanks to the decisive actions of the guys who made the essential spraying happen with perfect timing. Stellar effort gentlemen.

Probably in penitence for her thoroughly drenching behavior of Wet-Fest ‘23, Mother Nature chipped in as well this year, blessing the scene with the kind of stiff and steady breeze that helps keep the bloody suckers at bay. It was a thing of beauty.

Even more beautiful was the pervasive spirit of co-operation that was everywhere you looked. While it’s intuitively obvious that volunteers are the beating heart of any massive effort such as this, I stand in awe at the many great and selfless deeds put forth by these generous souls. For such a team endeavor as this, it would be indecorous to single out any one person or group as heroes per se. But let’s be honest … the local Fraternal Order of Eagles 3719 are completely deserving of the best honorable mention anyone can muster. Bravo Eagles, just Bravo.

The entertainment was top shelf stuff, with more talent gracing our stage than one could scavenge in a dozen contemporary Hollywood films (Note to self: find better example for talent comparison than ridiculous Hollywood). With heaping helpings of Country & Western, Zyde-Cajun, Classic Rock, Deep Blues and more, there was something for everyone.

When Crabfest King Creager finally performed his popular and rowdy “Everclear Song” it was late … well after 11:00 pm and beyond senior sleepytime. We hung in there strong and sang along with those proverbial grandmas in the song doing back-flips. Many danced gleefully and nobody got hurt, proverbially or otherwise.

I would have to give the Galveston Ukulele strummers top prize for cutest of the cute, with the Weenie Dog races coming in a close second. I thought Texas Flood played too loud, but then I’m the guy who’s been cramming toilet paper in his ears at rock concerts since the ‘60’s.

Didn’t notice any tiny folks here, so just in case, all apologies to any midget toes I may have stepped on with the wet tossing joke last time. Just having some good clean fun at your expense. Joking aside, y’all the bomb. Hope to see ya’s next time.

The food vendors, always a colorful bunch, brought out all manner of terrific eats. We cracked the crabs, sampled juicy burgers and slurped dreamy cheesecake milkshakes. But nothing beat the Amish donuts, the most sinfully delicious of all. We tried eavesdropping for their secret recipe, but were not successful. They may have been onto us.

Sitting eloquently on the north grounds, right there with this major Talentfest as backdrop, the undisputed star of this year’s event was an incredibly special piece of Texas history. It was my great honor and pleasure to interview the effervescent owner of the peninsula’s iconic and most historic landmark, the Bolivar Point Lighthouse. Amy Maxwell Chase, the bonafide descendant of the very first private owners, is leading a considerable team of folks in executing the rescue and restoration of the beloved structure that has such a rich and storied past.

In 2018 engineers assessed the lighthouse and deemed the condition of the cupola (dome) to be emergent and in dire need of repair, at risk of failure and toppling in high wind. Heavens to Mergatroyd, Betsy. Oh, to have been the fly on the wall of the lively discussion that ensued.

Almost a year ago, after weeks of meticulous planning, the B.P.L. team accomplished the epically towering feat of getting the rusty, rickety crown down from atop its lofty perch, which is over 100 feet above ground level. In one piece even.

Once it was on the ground, they were able to reinforce the weather-hammered, feeble and crumbling antique iron frame of the lantern room “bird cage” with custom, sturdy steel braces to maintain its shape. This ingenious strategy made it possible for them to transport it via truck and trailer to the Festival for all to see, up close and personal. To be able to reach out and touch with your own hand such an extra-ordinary and ordinarily untouchable piece of history is a humbling experience, to say the least. Great job, George and gang. Remind me to buy you a beer 😜

Amy was gracious enough to recount for me a few of the spellbinding chapters in this 150 year old story, not the least of which was the structure enduring multiple really mean hurricanes and saving many lives in the process … 125 lives in 1900 and 62 more in 1915. Incredibly, one of those lives surviving the 1900 Storm happens to have a living descendant (grand-daughter) who has contacted Amy and plans to visit her in the near future. This story ain’t over by a long shot!

This is quite the exciting development. Amy is totally thrilled of course, and invites anyone else connected to the lighthouse history to get in touch with her: [email protected]

We are beyond fortunate to have someone as capable and passionate about this legendary symbol … as Amy. She is clearly amazing, but at the end of the long day, she’s still just one person staring at an estimated $2.5 million smackers for the restoration. Let us find it in our big Texan hearts to step up to the plate and lend her a hand. This a worthy cause if I ever met one. To donate and help save this precious maritime gem, go to bolivarpointlighthouse.org.

And lest we forget, the 40th Texas Crab Festival is a mere 51 weeks away. Hop over to texascrabfestival.org to make a donation and volunteer. Join the Crabbies now and help secure those much-loved student scholarships, not to mention the totally endearing Bikes for Kids at Christmas time. Remember, it’s never too late to make a difference and have some fun!

~~ j ~~

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”
~~ Vince Lombardi

Start making plans now to attend the 2025 Texas Crab Fest on Mother’s Day weekend, May 9-11 at Swedes Park in Crystal Beach, TX. It promises to be a tasty mix of Gulf Coast fun for the whole family.

Sponsor and volunteer opportunities are available.



Texas Crab Festival Charities is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves to improve the lives of those who call the Bolivar Peninsula home. Proceeds from the annual Texas Crab Festival and donations from our patrons are reinvested in the community and help fund youth scholarships and camps, local schools and volunteer fire departments, and various outreach initiatives. So while you, your family, and friends are enjoying all the music, art and fabulous food the Texas Crab Festival has to offer, know that you are also helping to give back to our very special and unique community.