Carnival ride

Families enjoy a ride on the “Tornado” carnival ride at the 2018 Crab Festival on May 26, 2018. The ride is one operated by Golden Wheel Amusement.

The 62nd annual Kodiak Crab Festival, which attracts thousands of attendees every year, will be postponed until the week of August 19, according to a Kodiak Chamber of Commerce press release. 

The festival was originally scheduled for May 21-25, but coronavirus-related travel bans and restrictions on large gatherings prompted the Crab Festival Committee to set new dates of Aug. 19-23 for the event. 

According to chamber records, the last time Crab Fest was held in August was 1964, when Kodiak was hammered by the Good Friday earthquake and tsunami earlier in the year. 

In addition, amusement ride company Golden Wheel Amusements, which usually provides festival foods and rides, will not participate in the postponed festival. The committee is considering other options. 

“This opens a lot of opportunities for community members to fill that vacancy and see if they want to provide food, like corn dogs and cotton candy. This is their opportunity to shine,” said Sarah Phillips, executive director of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce. 

According to Chase Eckert, midway manager for Golden Wheel Amusements, the company has been providing carnival food and rides to Kodiak’s Crab Fest since 1970. Because of the current uncertainty concerning ferry sailings and other events happening the same week as the Crab Festival, the company will not be able to attend.

The committee will reach out to other ride and inflatables companies to determine viable options, states the chamber’s press release. If no company is able to participate, the Crab Festival is likely to be combined with the chamber’s Venture-Thru-Vehicles event, first held in Kodiak last year. 

“The festival is a once-a-year opportunity for the entire community to come together,” Phillips said. “It’s almost like a big family reunion. You see people you haven’t seen because people intentionally fly up for Crab Fest.”  

Phillips said festival attendees travel to Kodiak from all over the state and country not only for Crab Fest but also to see their friends and family. 

The popular festival, which normally occurs in May, welcomes summer and celebrates Kodiak’s prolific fishing industry. This year’s theme is “Sea What Matters.”

According to the chamber’s press release, the committee rescheduled the event after assessing state and nationwide safety requirements, and how long those requirements could be expected to continue. 

Committee members chose the August date by considering ferry schedules, local school schedules and other statewide events. 

Aimee Williams, the executive director of Discover Kodiak, said that for the past few years, the docking of a cruise has coincided with Crab Fest and this year is no different. However, with the ever-changing cruise ship policies and schedules resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, Williams foresees more changes as summer approaches. 

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