Contestants line up to pull muskrat meat from the bone in a past World Championship in Dorchester County. Facebook photo.

Eastern Shore’s Crawfish Boil & Muskrat Eating Championship Moves to Kent Island

Someone who’s not from the Chesapeake Bay region might find it hard to believe that there’s an event called the Crawfish Boil & Muskrat Leg Eating World Championship. But it is an annual festival and competition that is growing in size, with this year’s event moving to Kent Island this weekend.

It may come as a surprise that such an event would be so popular that it outgrew its venue, but that’s what has apparently happened on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Reigning muskrat leg-eating champion Daniel “Chunky” Hesson. Facebook photo.

Last year, the Crawfish Boil & Muskrat Eating Competition event was to be held at a restaurant in Cambridge, but organizers postponed it. In a Facebook post, they said, “With expected crowd sizes far exceeding our ability to guarantee a safe and fully enjoyable experience for our festival goers, The Festival has decided to postpone our event until we can find a larger capacity space to ensure the experience our guest have come to expect!”

This time, the festival will leave Dorchester County and be held at Cult Classic Brewing on Kent Island Feb. 17, 2024, 12-6 p.m.

The festival food will consist of exactly what it sounds like: plenty of crawfish from Louisiana and muskrat dishes prepared by Palm Beach Willies of Taylors Island, in addition to “other choices for those not so adventurous”.

And for the very adventurous, there is a muskrat leg-eating contest that may see a showdown between Eastern Shore competitors known as “Chunky”, “Chuckie” and “Dink”.

For the uninitiated, a muskrat is a large marsh rodent that was traditionally trapped, cooked and eaten on the Eastern Shore. For some, the tradition is still alive.

How did the championship come to be? It started as a joke, as our Niambi Davis reported ahead of last year’s show. She writes, “At a social gathering between Dorchester County and Cameron Parish, its Louisiana sister county, the idea began as a joke. But over crawfish flown in fresh from Louisiana and inspiration from the Outdoor Show’s muskrat skinning contest, a new competition was born.”

Is it really the world championship of muskrat leg eating? Dorchester County Chamber President Bill Christopher says the organizers couldn’t find any other similar contest in the world. The competition requires each contestant to eat 13 muskrat legs in 3 minutes. The legs are small, but as Christopher told us, “muskrat meat is hard to get off the bone…and if the bone has one scrap of meat left when time is up, you’re out.”

But the festival isn’t all muskrats and crawfish; the beer will be flowing at Cult Classic (more than 15 brewed in house) and live music will play a prominent role.

According to organizers, Blues Legend Jimmy Cole will headline the show with his band which includes Ron Holloway (Dizzy Gillespie) on sax, Sam Paladino on the organ, George Sheppard on drums, Zach Sweeney on lead guitar and Bacon Wrap on bass. 

Tickets to the festival are $10 and are available online. Organizers say the indoor/outdoor event will be moved entirely inside in case of bad weather.