Shelling out for crabs and a cause

Crab feeds raise money for schools, non-profits
By: Lien Hoang, The Press Tribune
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Put down that fork! It’s the time of year to throw propriety to the wind, don a bib, and burrow into dinner with your hands. In other words, crab season is nearing its zenith, and Roseville is crawling with crab feeds. “You’re carefree, you’re just digging in with your fingers, you have a bib on, you have a drink, and it’s just a real relaxed time,” says Tammy Hanson, of the Oakmont Parent Club. In her debut year planning the crab feed to benefit Oakmont High School, Hanson was surprised to find just how uniform crab feeds are, including at least five around Roseville between today and Feb. 26. Most menus come with a salad, bread, pasta, dessert and, of course, unlimited crab. A bar, silent and live auction and raffle round out the popular winter fundraiser. Few stray from the formula, making every deviation all the more noticeable For her part, Hanson is trying to think outside the shell, starting with annual themes. This year’s crab feed will be a “Beach Party,” complete with chandeliers made from colorful beach balls. She’s brainstorming for future installments, but will likely go with a luau and traditional crab theme for some of them. “My head is always busy thinking of ideas,” Hanson says. For Roseville High School, organizers will mix things up with a key raffle and informal performance. In the latter case, members of the junior class deliver a show – usually a line dance – which they hope will boost tips, because they’re also servers for the night. As for the keys: 100 are sold at $10 a piece, and whoever buys the key opening a designated lock wins $500. “It goes over pretty well, people kind of look for that,” says Tom Hack, co-president of the school’s Booster Club, which hosts the crab feed with the Sober Grad Committee. In the past, roughly 450 people have attended, but Hack is hoping to inch closer to the venue’s capacity of 700 people. The toughest part is getting the word out so people will reserve tickets and so Hack knows how much to order. He buys from crab powerhouse Pacific Seafood, which tries to accommodate fundraisers because it’s hard to predict turnout. “We do our best to lock them in at a reasonable rate they can count on,” Pacific Seafood account manager Marty Martinez says. New to the world of crab feeds this year is a joint venture by the Gathering Inn and the Rotary Club of Granite Bay. Shirley Saunders says the Gathering Inn holds fundraisers throughout the year, and this fit nicely into February. “Our needs just keep getting bigger and bigger with the economy and everything,” she says. She’s beginning to look for sponsors, which Hanson seems to take especial pleasure in doing. Hanson started with emails, followed up with phone calls and now has 100 sponsors giving everything from trips to Reno and the wine country to a simple check. And she’ll keep track of every penny. Hanson is big on data, and she plans to record every margarita ordered, every crab eaten and uneaten, every spa certificate auctioned off, so that next year, she can adjust the blueprint accordingly. At Oakmont’s crab feed, in addition to other goods, each of the school’s athletic teams must contribute an item for raffle and a personalized basket for auction. The idea is to give every sector of the school a vested interest in the benefit, which in the past has brought in an Oakmont culinary class to help with kitchen prep. “It’s a general community involvement, you get to know each other,” Hack says. “It just makes your school stronger.” He wants the cause to be less about the Booster Club or Sober Grad Night, and more about the entire school. But with Sierra Nevada on tap and wine and mixed drinks to order, the crab feed is really a night of adults. Like other crab feeds, this is a moment for grown-ups to let their hair down. “It is a messy thing, with melted better and lemons, and that makes it kind of fun,” Hack says. Lien Hoang can be reached at ---------- Crab feeds galore WHAT: Del Oro High School band WHEN: 6 p.m. today WHERE: Placer County Board of Realtors facility, 4750 Grove St., Rocklin PRICE: $40 INFO: (916) 759-7594 WHAT: Roseville High School WHEN: 6 p.m. Jan. 22 WHERE: Jones Hall at the Placer County Fairgrounds, 800 All America City Blvd., Roseville PRICE: $35 INFO: (916) 759-6939 WHAT: The Playmakers WHEN: 5 p.m. Jan. 29 WHERE: Folsom Community Center, 52 Natoma St.. Folsom PRICE: $65 INFO: (916) 797-8550 WHAT: Oakmont High School WHEN: 6 p.m. Jan. 29 WHERE: Maidu Community Center, 1550 Maidu Drive, Roseville PRICE: $40 INFO: (916) 789-4591 WHAT: Gathering Inn and Rotary Club of Granite Bay WHEN: 6 p.m. Feb. 26 WHERE: Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 6365 Douglas Blvd., Granite Bay PRICE: $35 INFO: (916) 791-3955