Crab Fest 2019: City gears up for Mandurah's signature event

Mandurah's biggest event of the year is almost upon us.

This weekend thousands of people will descend on the city to enjoy the region's quintessential dish - crab.

In its 21st year, Crab Fest is Mandurah's highlight event and is the biggest free, community festival in Western Australia.

In 2018, the festival attracted more than 120,000 locals and visitors to the Peel region.

The festival runs between March 16-17 but is organised and coordinated across the year.

It takes about 120 volunteers to run the festivities without a hitch.

Live music, food tents, art competitions, educational stalls and children's activities are just some of the many elements that make up the highly anticipated two-day event.

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Wading through shallow waters and scooping up blue swimmer crabs could be classed as the ultimate Mandurah pastime.

Whether you prefer to drop a net off the jetty, off the boat or even don your gumboots and take a scoop net down to the estuary, you’re likely to go home with your quota.

Mandurah's mayor Rhys Williams is one of the many locals who have indulged in the region's famous tradition since childhood.

Mr Williams said his love for the festival has unwaved since he enjoyed the festival as a youth.

"We would go to Crab Fest and then the next day we would go crabbing," he said.

"My favourite part of Crab Fest now would have to be seeing so many people having a good time in our city."

Mr Williams also highlighted the world-class musicians the festival draws in.

This year, well-known Australian acts Josh Pyke and Montaigne will grace the stage to entertain attendees.

My favourite part of Crab Fest now would have to be seeing so many people having a good time in our city.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams

On February 7, the state's tourism minister Paul Papalia and regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan revealed the state government had signed a three-year deal to financially support the event.

"The festival not only showcases the Peel region but also encourages visitors to extend their stay and enjoy other tourism experiences on offer in the area," Mr Papalia said at the time.

"Regional events are vital for tourism, which is a key pillar of the state government's plan to diversify the economy, create jobs and develop business opportunities."

Ms MacTiernan said the festival was significant for Mandurah's "sense of community and heritage".

The news was, particularly, welcomed by Mr Williams.

"To have this vote of confidence from sponsors, it really solidifies what we can do with this event," Mr Williams said.

"Crab Fest is now recognised as one of the most successful community events in Western Australia and nationally.

"Of course there's massive economic value in events and we think if there's about an $8 million return to Mandurah per Crab Fest.

"That's a significant return on investment but more than that.

"It's about showing the rest of Western Australia, Australia and the world what we know - that Mandurah has beautiful coastlines and friendly people.

"I think that's why I get so excited about it. It's our showcase to really put us on the map."

While locals boost about staple Mandurah festival, its also been recognised nationally.

Mandurah Crab Fest has won gold for the third year in a row at the Western Australia Tourism Awards.

The festival took out top gong in the Major Festivals and Events category of the prestigious awards hosted by the Tourism Council of WA.

Crab Fest has certainly grown over the years, and the community has come to embrace the festival as a highlight on their calendar.

From humble beginnings, the event originally developed from a community festival called the Kanyana Carnival.

For those of you who can’t remember the event, the festival was held in Mandurah for thirty years.

Numbers attending the Kanyana Carnival started to decline, so the City of Mandurah worked to develop an annual festival for the city that would encourage awareness and visitation to the Peel area.

After brainstorming ideas for a unique event, the City of Mandurah decided to base the festival on the much-loved activity of crabbing.

The event is so unique, it can even claim the title of Australia’s only crab-inspired festival.

The final decision came after a significant consultation period with local residents and businesses.

Developed in 1998, the committee managed to hold the first event in 1999. From there the event was marketed to Mandurah and the broader region.

About 3,000 people attended the first official Crab Fest, which is a stark contrast from today's numbers.

The festival not only showcases the Peel region but also encourages visitors to extend their stay and enjoy other tourism experiences on offer in the area.

WA tourism minister Paul Papalia

While Mandurah Mail journalists will be on the ground across the weekend to cover the event, our team would also love to share your photos. If you have a photo you want to contribute, send us an email via editor.mandurahmail@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

For more information on this year’s Crab Fest, visit www.crabfest.com.au.

Follow Caitlyn Rintoul on Twitter via @caitlynrintoul.