An event in Southwest Florida brings thousands of people together, but it will look a bit different from its normal, annual festivities.
The Stone Crab Festival in Naples will still go on Friday after confusion in the community about whether it would still happen because of the pandemic.
To keep the festival safe, it’s a little smaller and won’t include the Naples Princess or the Naples Bayfront.
To make room for social distancing, vendor tables will be spaced apart on the north side of Tin City, and another portion of the event will offer food, including barbecue and, of course, stone crab.
“We’re not really too sure what to expect,” Jarrod Cain said.
Little shops tucked away inside Tin City hope for success.
”I’m looking forward to lots of people and lots of customers,” Conchita Judd said.
Judd says the annual festival usually brings in thousands, making for a busy weekend for her perfume store.
“My sales triple and quadruple during those days,” Judd said.
She and others here could use the business.
“I would say I’m about 50% down from last year,” Judd said.
After rumors that it would be canceled, some including Andy Miller didn’t know it’s still happening.
“People are scared with what’s going on with the pandemic, but, personally, I’m over it,” Miller said. “We got to get back … I lost my job when it started.”
Dustin Zielinski is working and helping set up tents for the festival.
”This is a big one for us,” Zielinski said. “Of course, the main event will take center stage.”
There is live music at the festival Friday night, and the event starts back up at 11 a.m. Saturday and runs through Sunday until 5 p.m. Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann encourages everyone to wear masks, keep a safe distance, but go out and have fun.
Organizers say the stone crab are extra delicious this year.
“Grateful to the City of Naples for allowing us to do it this year,” Cain said.
“I think this is really going to help,” Juddd said.