If you love seafood, Havre de Grace is the new place to be, organizers of the city's longtime Seafood Festival say.
In its 34th year, "it's the biggest festival ever," organizer Lori Maslin said Sunday as the weekend-long event was wrapping up.
This year's festival drew about 53,000 people, roughly 10,000 more than last year, Maslin and her husband, Chuck, said. That included 3,500 who turned out to watch Three Dog Night perform Friday night.
Lori Maslin noted the festival is a nationally-recognized event and draws a national slate of vendors, including seafood offerings from Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina.
"We can't really add a lot of vendors because of space but we improve the quality every year," she said. The Maslins run Laughing Crab Catering in the city.
She noted the festival was able to get some big sponsors this year, including Geico insurance and Cupcake Vineyards from Livermore, Calif.
"The better the event is, the more organized it is, the easier it is to get quality vendors," she said.
The sunny, moderate weather all weekend probably didn't hurt. Plenty of people were still strolling the grounds of Millard Tydings Park on Sunday afternoon and enjoying the different food options at tables set up for lunch.
Others headed to the water or snapped pictures by the giant, inflatable crab perched near the park's war memorial.
Some visitors drove several hours to the festival, such as Charles J. Roby and his wife, Yvonne Oliver. They were spending the weekend in town from Brooklyn, N.Y.
They have come to Havre de Grace every year for some time but only discovered the Seafood Festival two years ago.
Roby said he lived in Havre de Grace briefly as a child and still remembers it.
"You really don't see that much crab in New York," he said about what makes the festival special.
"I think it's a lot of fun," Roby said. "It's nice just sitting and watching the people."
He said the food was good, noting he had grouper Saturday night.
Oliver, who is from the Dominican Republic, said: "I never liked crab there and I like crab here."
"I love it," she added about the festival. "I am not a fish eater, but I like the fish that I eat here because it's not too fried."
"I love this place, and I love the crab," she said.
Joe and Sarah Sinclair live a little closer, in North East. It was their first time at the festival, although Sarah Sinclair said she had been to it when she was a child.
"We got some food that was really good," Sarah Sinclair said, as Joe Sinclair noted he was on "round two" with some chicken.
The couple had a shrimp and oyster po'boy sandwich and coconut shrimp on a stick.
Joe Sinclair said he liked seeing different people enjoying the park.
"Being from around here all the time, it's nice to share how nice it is around here with people," he said.
Several friends from Aberdeen also said the festival was a unique attraction for the area.
"It's pretty substantial," Cam Letke said of the event while preparing to enjoy a crab sandwich. "There's not a lot to do out here."
"I think they do the seafood really well and they have such a wide variety," he said.
Bob Basarab, also of Aberdeen, said he comes to it "pretty much every year."
"It's just a good day for all of us as friends to hang out," he said, adding he has tried crab, hush puppies, popcorn shrimp and rockfish.
"The weather is always nice," he said, and indeed it was on Sunday.