It’s time to get crackin’ at local crab feeds

Crustacean-lovin’ nation gears up for the season
By: Paul Cambra, Features Editor
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Get crabby
Meadow Vista Area Lions Club
When: Saturday, Feb. 2. 6 p.m. no-host cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner
Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds, Placer Hall Building, Auburn
Cost: $35. Available at Meadow Electric, Meadow Vista True Value Hardware.
More: Live music by Runnin 4 Cover. Proceeds benefit Meadow Vista Area Lions Club community fund.
Tickets and info: (530) 878-7944 (Meadow Electric), (530) 878-0484 (Meadow Vista True Value Hardware)

Newcastle Elementary History Club
When: Saturday, Feb. 9. 6 p.m. no-host cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner, 9-11 p.m. dancing,
Where: Blue Goose Fruit Shed, 3550 Taylor Road, Loomis
Cost: $45 in advance, $50 at the door. $5 for music only
More: Live music by Bad Iron. Proceeds offset the eighth grade History Club’s travel expenses for Washington D.C. trip
Tickets and info: (916) 663-3307 ext. 22,

St. Joseph Catholic School
Saturday, Feb. 9. 6 p.m. happy hour, 7:15 p.m. dinner, dancing until 11:30 p.m.
Where: St. Joseph Catholic School Parish Hall, 11610 Atwood Road, Auburn
Cost: $40
More: Raffle and silent auction. Proceeds benefit St. Joseph Catholic School. Adults only.
Tickets and info: (916) 885-4490,

Ophir Elementary
5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9
Where: Loomis Veteran’s Hall, 5945 Horseshoe Bar Road, Loomis
Cost: $40
More: Live music with Tijuana Weekend. Proceeds benefit Ophir students’ art and technology
Tickets and info: Ophir Elementary School, 1373 Lozanos Road, Newcastle; (530) 885-3495 ext. 10,

Active 20-30 Club of Greater Roseville/South Placer #36
6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9
Where: McBean Park Pavilion, 65 McBean Park Dr., Lincoln
Cost: $40
More: Music and dancing. Proceeds benefit the youth of Placer County. 21 and older.
Tickets and info: (916) 572-2030

Sierra Trail Dogs
6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9
Where: Gold County Fairgrounds, Sierra Building, Auburn, CA
Cost: $40 adults; $15 kids 6-12; under 6 years old free
More: All ages. Proceeds to benefit the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Save the Trails, the American Red Cross.
Tickets and info: (530) 823-4533,

Sierra College Patrons and Aquatics Program
6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15.
Where: Blue Goose Fruit Shed, 3550 Taylor Road, Loomis
Cost: $45
More: Raffle and silent auction. Proceeds benefit Sierra College Arts and Humanities programs through grants and scholarships, and the Aquatics program.
Tickets and info: (916) 660-8232

Roseville Service Clubs
6-10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23
Where: Placer County Fairgrounds, 800 All American City Blvd., Roseville
Cost: $40
More: It’s a crab and shrimp feed put on by the Roseville Host Lions Club, The Kiwanis Club of Roseville and the Sunrise Rotary Club. 21 and older.
Tickets and info:, (916) 412-6251

Auburn American Legion Post 84
When: Saturday, March 2
Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds, Auburn
Cost: $35
More: Proceeds benefit two local American Legion youth baseball teams
Tickets and info: (530) 889-8574, cdbradbury@sbcglobal

Whitney High School  
When: Saturday, March 2. 5 p.m. cocktails, 6:30 p.m. dinner
Where: Placer County Fairgrounds, Johnson Hall, 800 All American City Blvd., Roseville
Cost: $50
More: Music by the Dave Russell Band, auction. 18 and older.Proceeds supplement district funding for school site and classroom needs.
Tickets and info: (916) 632-6500 ext. 6446,

Lions Project for Canine Companions
Saturday, March 16. 6 p.m. social hour, 7 p.m. dinner, 8:30-11 p.m. music.
Where: Citrus Heights Community Center, Greenback Lane and Fountain Square Dr.
Cost: $37.50
More: Proceeds benefit Canine Companions for Independence.
Tickets and info: Advance ticket sales only.

There are two types of crab eaters out there. We’ll call them the “picker” and the “piler.”
The picker will stick their tiny fork into a piece of crab, dip the meat into a bowl of melted butter, cocktail sauce or mayonnaise (we’ll get to that one later) then plop it into their mouth. Or they bypass the dip and enjoy it as is. Whatever the case, it goes straight from shell to mouth in one steady motion.
The piler, on the other hand, is a person of patience. Someone who will methodically empty out the entire contents of whatever shells are on their plate – it could be an entire crab – then when done, they dig in and feast on forkful after forkful of clean, cold crabmeat.
Whichever category you fall into, now is the best time of year to put into practice your chosen process, as the crab feeds are upon us.
“They are great events to go to with family and friends,” said Linda Malmstedt of Auburn. “They are always fun and I do like that the proceeds go back into the community.”
Just about every crab feed is put on by a school, church or service organization to raise funds for local programs, projects and performances. That means they primarily rely upon volunteer labor to pull them off.
“We start around 7:30 in the morning, cutting up the celery, potatoes and onions for the soup,” said Kyle Madison, who works the kitchen for both the Auburn Jeep Club and St. Joseph’s Catholic School crab feeds. “We’re always talking and listening to music and having fun in the kitchen all day, four or five guys, usually the same crew. Our kids are in the same grade, so we’re trying to bring in guys with younger kids when we phase out.”
Though he admits having your children leave the school does not always guarantee you leave of duty, at least it’s a good time for a good cause. And it’s the good causes that get Etta Gross of Weimar to three or four crab feeds a year.
“A lot of them help out communities where the government stops helping,” she said. “I love to attend ones that help schools. And I always help the canine companions.”
For Etta, it’s also about the people. She will usually go with a large group of friends. This makes for a lively night out, what with a table full of your closest friends all wearing bibs and eating with their hands.
“I’ll buy 15-20 tickets and bring a big group,” said Ray Rooker of Auburn. “I go to quite a few, at least three a year. They’re just fun events and they’re fundraisers. It’s all for a good cause.”
And like many crab feed veterans, Rooker will bring his own melted butter, since many feeds do not supply it. Of course, butter doesn’t stay melted, so it has to be done at the table. Butter melters come in many styles, but the majority of them are a simple ramekin suspended over a candle. Whatever it takes, because people do love their crab with butter.
Which brings us around to mayonnaise. As far as Kelly Bane is concerned, you can leave your cocktail sauce and butter melters at home. Just give him a jar of Best Foods to go with his favorite food.
Bane, from Meadow Vista, attends “as many crab feeds as I can” every year. He’ll usually go with a group of about 10, each of them bringing along something to share – an appetizer, a dessert, mayonnaise …
And Bane, well, he’s a “piler.”
“It takes discipline to make a big pile,” he said. “You want to jump right into it. But I’ll keep cracking until I have a pile of crab, then all I need is a little mayo.”
So pull out those crab crackers, dust off those tiny forks and put a new candle in the melter. It’s time to get crackin.’