PALATKA, Fla. -- Michael Barady was helping Palatka prepare for the Blue Crab Festival.
He and a crew worked on the hospitality tent Wednesday.
Barady joked when asked if he was working hard: "Not yet, but I'm working on it."
He's from Palatka, and he and his city will help welcome thousands of visitors from across the state and the U.S. to the Blue Crab Festival this weekend.
Mary Mackie Conner is on the Blue Crab Festival committee. She said, "We're calling this the new face of the Blue Crab Festival."
That's because a handful of buildings have been demolished in downtown Palatka due to an area redevelopment.
"Last year, the entertainment tent ... somewhat blocked the festival," she said.
Now it sits where the "high rise" used to be.
The layout is expected to open up the festival, allowing people to access and see the St. Johns River better.
"People will be able to sit along the river and eat, spend time with their families," Conner said.
Due to the changes downtown, there will be more parking for the festival. Also, because you asked for it, there will be more rides and more food.
"Fifty food vendors," Conner noted. "There used to be 30."
Of course, there's the arts and crafts show and the Memorial Day parade.
And the crabs?
Conner said, "We had the vendor promise us we will not run out of crabs. We're always worried about running out, because the crowd grows and grows."
As for Barady, he admitted he's not a fan of eating blue crabs, but he likes the new festival layout.
"I like it. It overlooks the river better," Conner affirmed.
He'll be able to enjoy it just as soon as he gets everything tied down.
The Blue Crab Festival starts Friday and runs through Monday. As always, parking, admission, and entertainment are all free.
First Coast News