Think lemony Willipa Bay Oysters, barbecue salmon sandwiches and buttery crustaceans. Crab bread, oyster bread and sumptuous scallops.

There are practically as many favorite seafood dishes as people willing to eat them.

And the people willing to eat them are many.

More than 17,000 visitors are set to converge on the Clatsop County Fairgrounds this weekend to celebrate the bounty of the spring fishing season at the 22nd annual Crab and Seafood Festival.

"We'll have various other arts and crafts, food vendors, any and all kinds of seafood you can possibly even want," said Laurie Willey, who works in visitor services at the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce.

This year, the chamber is adding more family events to the fishy festival, including a hands-on OMSI science exhibit and Georgia-Pacific toilet paper tosses, along with the traditional petting zoo and crab races.

"They're really fun because people get to pick their crab, and the first one down the chute, that person wins a prize," Willey said.

Crab dinners take center stage at the Astoria-Warrenton Crab and Seafood Festival. File photo by Lori Assa.Just don't get too attached to the scuttling creatures, because the Rotary is planning on serving its annual crab dinner. Last year they went through a monstrous 2,800 pounds of whole crab.

They're dished up traditionally - which means in the shell.

"We serve them with the back off and the guts off," said Kurt Englund, who is in charge of the dinner. "You have to crack it yourself."

Lynne Johnson served up Dungeness crab for the Rotary dinner at the Crab and Seafood Festival last year. File photo by Kim Erskine.Garlic bread, coleslaw and a drink are also included in the meal, which costs an estimated $14 for a whole and $8.50 for a half, depending on the market price. It's the Rotary's biggest fund-raiser of the year, and the proceeds go to scholarships and other projects.

Also expect to see the Chamber Ambassadors' Beer Garden, which features hand-crafted beers from around the state. Indulging in hops usually nets $4,000 for local scholarships.

Vendors set up their booths and hung signs the day before last year's Crab and Seafood Festival. File photo by Lori Assa.Combine the food with the wineries, crafts and local artists, and there will be more than 200 booths.

In addition, special treats will be featured in the family tent, and child care is available throughout the weekend of the festival.

Live music for the entire family will be showcased throughout the weekend. Acts include the Crab Festival All-Stars, Jackson Andrews, the Chuck & Dave Show, the Beau Berry Show and the Brownsmead Flats.

Music and dancers entertain Crab Festival-goers as they dine. File photo by Lori Assa.Adult admission is $4 Saturday and $5 Friday or Sunday. Senior admission (62 and older) is $3 and children younger than 12 get in for $1. Safeway, a major sponsor of this year's festival, is offering two-for-one admission for any attendees who show their Safeway cards.

The festival runs from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 23-25.

The most efficient means of transportation to the festival is the free shuttle service provided from area hotels, campgrounds and park-and-ride locations at the Port of Astoria and Astoria High School. A limited amount of parking is available at the fairgrounds for $10 Friday and Saturday.

The festival's inflatable mascot, "Louie the Crab," presides over the event. File photo by Kim Erskine.For information on this year's festival, call the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce at (503) 325-6311.


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