NAPLES, Fla. -- The Stone Crab Festival is back up and running in Tin City. After dealing with post-Hurricane Irma effects, the main sponsor, Pinchers, and the festival thrived over the weekend.
“When Hurricane Irma came through it basically pulled out the seawall for Tin City and when it pulled out the seawall all of the restaurant starting dipping down into the river. That deemed us unsafe in Tin City as a whole,” said Beau Perry, Division Manager Phelan Family Brands.
Pinchers, through their partnership with the Island Crab Company, are the second largest purveyor of stone crabs in the world. The stone crab festival brings popularity from all over the nation, including different small vendors.
“Hopefully we’re going to go to the next step and make a franchise out of it and that’s the goal,” said Shauul Apelker owner of Sal's Chimney Cakes.
Apelker struggled to keep business sales up when many festivals were cancelled due to Irma.
"We couldn't go and do business and money is lost money because we pay in advance for our spots,” he explained.
The 61-year-old and his wife started the business a couple years back when he was unable to get another job.
"Most employers don’t want to talk to a certain person just because of age,” Apelker said. “Reality is reality. So we go and build our own business.”
It's a business he quite literally built from his own two hands.
“I designed and built this trailer that’s behind me and we’ve just been going on the road.”
The Stone Crab city is one of many festivals helping keep the local business owner afloat. A portion of the proceeds from the festival will benefit local non profits such as Freedom Waters Foundation.