Racing crustaceans attract thousands to Aiken's spoof of the Kentucky Derby

AIKEN --- The racing and accompanying sea of onlookers were all about the lobsters Friday night.


"Go! Come On!" shouted many from the crowd as heat after heat took place in tanks emblazed to greet visitors: "Welcome to Lobster Downs -- Aiken, S.C."

It was the 25th annual lobster race in downtown Aiken along Newberry Street and The Alley.

The event is considered a spoof of the Kentucky Derby, and on Friday night it drew between 8,000 and 10,000 people.

The event brought back memories for Mitch Albers, of Aiken, who attended his second lobster race with his wife, Jenni, and his 1-year-old daughter, Jocelyn.

"Our first date was at the lobster race," he said.

Rusty Givens said he attended the very first running of the lobsters.

"It wasn't nearly this big," he said, look- ing around at several bands playing and vendor tables, where red lobster hats with pro- truding plush claws and tails were selling quickly.

The races caught the most attention, with lobsters named Reasonable Doubt and Rush Lim-Claw racing for their lives as officials said winners were headed back to the ocean while losers would get the melted butter award.

"I just like watching people's reactions," Aiken resident Sarah Herring said of the races.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110 or