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Time to get cracking
Delay in crab season causing hurdles for fundraising feeds
crabfeed 1
Martin Cunha, Nick Antrim, Michael Silva and Manuel Drumonde Jr. were on hand last year to help the Turlock Pentecost Association prepare for the annual crab and cioppino feed. Several fundraisers have had to rework their menus or find alternative crab vendors as a toxin delayed the start of the season in California. - photo by Journal file photo

Turlock’s favorite fundraising feasts may be rewriting the menu, cancelling all together, or sourcing elsewhere for their annual crab feeds, as state officials just now opened up crab season.

Crab season in California was delayed as a health advisory was issued in November when state officials found unsafe levels of a toxin in crab caused by algae, known as domoic acid.

Crab feeds suffered as organizations had to make the call if they would still be having their annual fundraising feasts.

However, the health advisory regarding Dungeness and rock crabs caught along the coast between the Santa Barbara/Ventura County Line and Latitude 35° 40' N is being lifted along the coasts of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith updated the advisory last week and because recent tests show that levels of domoic acid have declined to low or undetectable levels in crabs caught in these areas. While some California crab is now safe to eat, consumers should still avoid eating the internal organs of the crab, health and environmental health officials said. Consumers should not eat Dungeness or rock crabs from waters around Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel Islands and areas north of Latitude 35° 40' N due to continued elevated levels of domoic acid in crabs caught in those areas.

This still raises the question: to crab feed or not to crab feed?

What would have been the fifth annual Turlock Police Activities League’s all-you-can-eat-crab-feed is cancelled due to the toxin in the crustaceans.

“We made the call to cancel it right before the holidays,” said Eric Shulze, committee member of PAL crab feed.

At the time, Oregon and Washington were also closed so they didn’t have much of an option as Shulze explained.

“We couldn’t honorably sell tickets and not be able to guarantee supporters fresh crab,” he said.

The Turlock Pentecost Association still plans to hold their annual crab and cioppino feed on Feb. 6 with their crab sourced from Canada and Washington where the waters are cooler and the levels of domoic acid in the crab are safe for human consumption.

“We still wanted to have it because it's an event that the community enjoys,” said Nick Antrim, member of the Turlock Pentecost Association and organizer for the event. “Everyone loves coming to it and we usually sell about 2,000 tickets.”

Tickets are $60 this year; however, Antrim explains that’s simply due to supply and demand. For tickets to their crab and cioppino feed, call 668-9840.

The Turlock Rural Fire Department, Kiwanis of Greater Turlock and Friends of the Fair Foundation are teaming up for their 9th annual fundraising feast at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds, although this time they’ll be steering clear of the crab.

The event will be held Saturday with a surf and turf type menu serving shrimp, tri-tip and pasta.

“A lot of people were upset about not having crab because they didn’t know about the outbreak,” said Katie Staack, secretary for Kiwanis of Greater Turlock. “We chose to be safe and not serve it, so when we explain why our supporters understand.”

Tickets are $50 and Staack said the fundraiser benefits the fire department and kids in the local area.

“Kiwanis of Greater Turlock has the best community support, and because of that we are able to do what we do,” said Staack.

Contact Kiwanis of Greater Turlock Vice President, Rufus Keaton at 262-8700 for tickets, or call Mike Staack, President at 604-6884.

“They’ll still be great food, drinks, a band and a live auction so it’s not a letdown at all,” said Katie Staack. “If anything, it will be better.”

Turlock Firefighters, Local #2434 are still holding their annual crab feed benefitting their Random Acts of Kindness Program with raffles following dinner.

“We have ordered our crab from Oregon and Washington through our vendor that we use,” said Steven Kramer of Turlock Firefighter Local #2434. “We normally get our crab from the California coast, but since the algae problem, we decided to order out of state since California was having problems.”

The crab and pasta feed will take place Jan. 16 with doors opening at 6 p.m. at the War Memorial, 247 E. Canal Dr., Turlock.

To order tickets for the all-you-can-eat crab and pasta email

American Legion Post 88 is still on the on fence if they’re going to have their annual crab feed this year as they shuffle through options and prices. Bob Russell, member of American Legion Post 88 explained that there was an increase in cost for crab because of the delay.

“If we don’t have the crab feed it will be the first time in over 10 years,” said Russell. “But we need to make sure there will still be a profit from it so we will find out for sure soon.”

To wrap up the list, the Warrior Athletics Crab Feed to benefit the Warrior Athletics Scholarship Fund is still happening and set for March 12 at CSU Stanislaus Main Dining.

“We were originally going to have it in June, but we changed it because we had too many games going on at that time,” said Amanda Rosas, assistant to the Marketing and Sponsorships department for Warrior Athletics. “It had nothing to do with the delay of crab season; we’ll be good to go in March.”

The Crab Feed will feature all-you-can-eat crab, salad, pasta and bread followed by an auction and raffle. For tickets or more information contact Charlene Bargas at 667-3016.