The “Assault on Patcong Creek” crabbing tournament kicked off Friday and runs through Saturday, bringing people from far and wide to catch crabs, eat delicious food and enjoy free family fun, according to a press release.
The tournament, now in its 10th year, is a summer tradition in Somers Point, and is said to be “America’s Largest Crabbing Tournament.”
“It didn’t start out that way,” said tournament founder and Somers Point Councilman Ron Meischker. “It actually began as just a few friends who loved crabbing, but now we have several hundred friends to share in the fun – some from as far away as Texas and the Midwest.”
Meischker said it spawned the creation of the environmental non-profit, the Patcong Creek Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to educate and protect the Patcong Creek watershed and estuary.
The event “has essentially created its own social ecosystem over the years, and brought a lot of benefit and attention to the Somers Point area as a result,” he noted.
The tournament also bring attention to the sponsors and local businesses that support the tournament. Kelchner’s Cocktail Sauce, JO Spice, Yeti Coolers, Hank Sauce and the Somers Point Brewing Company are just some of the companies that contribute to the annual event.
Their products will be showcased during the after-party on Saturday, when all the crabbers bring back their catches for a cook-off and giant crabfest.
“We don’t charge a fee for the tournament, and that’s unusual given the fishing tourneys are usually expensive to attend,” said Jenn Jennings, the foundation’s Administrator and Outreach Coordinator. “Though the event is free, many of the participants choose to donate to the Patcong Creek Foundation, because of its work in the local environment.”
Some of the activities include crab races, a crabcake eating contest, live music, crab soup contest, and environmental displays.
The Foundation’s educational outreach building, the Seashore Science Center, will also be open to the public and is designed to get kids actively participating in the environment. Knot-tying, water conservation, recycling, composting, an osprey nest and live terrapins are some of the hands-on exhibits that children see. The Seashore Science Center is slated for an early fall opening.
“This little crab tournament has become unstoppable,” said Jennings. “We have over 400 participants crabbing from 14 states, and every year we gain more and more attention. This year, our 10th anniversary year, brought us a special gift, a documentary on the Assault.”
An indie film crew will be documenting all the activities as part of the history of how the Assault on Patcong Creek grew from a small group of friends crabbing the weekend, to an event that draws over 1,500 people and generates tens of thousands of dollars for the local Somers Point economy, Jennings noted.
The best viewing of the crabbing tournament can be seen at Kennedy Park in Somers Point, 7 a.m. to noon, as the crabbers come in from the water with their catch.
The largest crab, point to point on the shell, wins bragging rights as the 10th Annual Assault on Patcong Creek tournament winner.