Mandurah businesses regroup after virus-cancelled Crab Fest

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Rhys Gardiner

Sharky's Fish and Chips is one of many Mandurah businesses affected by the cancellation of Crab Fest.

Rhys Gardiner, Reporter

The recent cancellation of Mandurah’s Crab Fest due to Covid-19 has seen local businesses focusing on recovery.

It would have been the 22nd running of the popular two-day event, but health concerns forced the City of Mandurah to cancel the event the day before it was due to start.

Sharky’s Fish and Chips was one of 20 local businesses set to provide food on the weekend.

Manager Zarah Wright said that all the businesses involved were “very sad and disappointed” that the event was cancelled.

“We were literally all over there ready to go,” Ms Wright said.

“Everything was over there, food, drinks – and we had to pack everything away.”

While concerns over the coronavirus had been building in the lead-up to Crab Fest, Ms Wright said the decision to cancel took stallholders by surprise.

“We didn’t expect it at all. It was a shock, a big shock.”

In a video statement uploaded to the Mayor Rhys Williams’ Facebook page, said his thoughts were with the businesses “burdened by the oversupply of food” resulting from the cancellation.

Businesses had purchased extra supplies and spent money on hiring equipment in their preparations for the event – in Sharky’s case, it was items like fridges and fryers. The cancellation means that stallholders have suffered financial and product losses.

“We’re kind of lucky because we can use [the extra food] here [at the restaurant], so we won’t actually lose much of our stock, but I know some of the other businesses have been really affected by it,” Ms Wright said.

The community response to Crab Fest’s cancellation has given rise to optimism for local people. Sharky’s had planned to sell their popular prawn and crab Arancini (an Italian-style rice croquette) at the event. In the wake of the cancellation, the restaurant advertised a special on local radio to sell the Arancini.

“The amount of customers that came round just to buy them was crazy,” Ms Wright said.

“People were ordering them, having them in the restaurant, and then they were ordering like 50 more to take home.”

Mayor Williams said the community response was “incredible.”

“So many people out and about, in the local restaurants, supporting the local cafes, buying coffee [and] buying seafood.

“It’s such a true indication of the incredible spirit of this Mandurah community.”