It’s summertime in Maryland at that can only mean one thing: it’s Crab and Clam Bake time. The 38th annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Cake was recently held in Crisfield, MD, and the event was filled with plenty of seafood dishes, beer, and — surprisingly enough — politicians. Some festival attendees are less than pleased to find an increased population of politicians at events such as these, but many area residents actually enjoy getting a chance to meet with their lawmakers in an informal setting and getting to see them interact with their communities.
The politicians, in turn, take advantage of these events as networking opportunities. This year’s festival was fortunate enough to experience fantastic weather, attendees noted, which likely contributed to more festival goers and gave politicians an even bigger opportunity to meet the citizens they represent. Festivals, like this Maryland Crab & Clam Bake, give people an opportunity to see politicians in real-life situations and, to the surprise of many people, to see that politicians often make strong connections across party lines. Allan Kittleman, an elected official of Howard County, says that these events allow him to connect with other officials he doesn’t see on a regular basis. “We get along really well,” Kittleman says. “I think some people don’t realize how well we do get along.”
As festivals like these continue to grow, many hope that more politicians will take the time to connect with their hometowns and their citizens. Unlike big sponsored events, which often require security guards,barricades and significant planning to make sure that all attendees are kept safe, informal festivals have a more spontaneous atmosphere and many people feel that these environments make public figures more approachable.
And, if nothing else, the festivals offer great regional and seasonal cuisine, as well as some fantastic people-watching.