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‘Put your guns away and be a person’, Levy County residents split on Crab Fest injunction

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Fla. (WCJB) - Williston has been the location for Crabfest since it first started more than 30 years ago. But in past years, the fest has led to violence, including a death at the fest in 2013.

The Levy County Board of County Commissioners voted to file an injunction against the organizer of the fest, Keniuel Gates, after he did not file a special events permit.

Sheriff Bobby McCallum said if Gates does not comply, consequences may follow.

“If he declines the cease and desist from his activities in this event, then he could potentially be arrested,” McCallum said.

He also said the violence usually comes from the thousands of travelers, not residents.

Related story: Levy County commissioners vote to file injunction against Williston Crab Fest promoter

“It’s outgrown the venue and it’s again mostly outsiders that are creating most of the problems,” McCallum added.

From 2017-2019, 40 arrest for drug and weapon possessions, DUI’s and more have been made at the fest.

So, residents who live nearby spoke at the commissioners meeting and have started the campaign “Williston wants peace, no Crabfest, not here, not this year”.

Ricky Duncan lives on the county road, meaning he attends crab fest every year.

He isn’t for or against the fest but says Gates has been trying to get things in place.

“He’s been trying to put it together but they’re saying he’s bringing the wrong crowd in here,” said Duncan. “We don’t know what to do.”

While the residents that live here on Levy County Road 318 said they would still like to see the crab fest take place they also don’t agree with the violence that comes along with the event.

“Put your guns away and be a person,” Leo Love said.

Love, who owns property on County Road 318, said he still thinks the Crabfest should still go on where it has been, because it’s one of the only events that involves the older community.

“Keeping us separated and cutting it out is not going to keep the violence down,” Love said. “It’s going to continue and those people who are creating the violence well that’s on them. They’re going to do that, whether we have a Crabfest or not.”

Gates declined to comment at this time.

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