Or So it Seems … Cracking Crabs for Charity

Photo by Viva La Foto

We came. We cracked. We chewed.

Saturday, I joined more than 1,000 people at the Anderson Fairgrounds to attend One Safe Place’s 27th annual “Crab Feed.” We faced off against 4,400 pounds of crustaceans-still-in-the-shell and emerged woozy but victorious.

The Crab Feed is a festive, mega-party, but despite its size it still feels intimate. It’s amazing how many people in the room knew one another. I was ready to EAT SOME CRAB! But it took me a half-hour to get to my seat because Karin kept bumping into friends and acquaintances. She saw past co-workers, community members she knows from committee work, and even and a former nursing student who was there volunteering with her roller-derby team.

For a girl without skates, Karin gets around.

While I waited, tummy grumbling, I noticed small clusters of people everywhere, apparently having the same glad-to-see-you experience.

And THEIR significant others waiting in stand-by mode.

I studied their faces, and I recognized many from the helping professions: counseling, education, health care, the ministry, and social services. I passed the time by looking at the thank-you acknowledgements, and I saw an impressive list of volunteer organizations and local businesses that have stepped up to support of some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens.

We finally reached our seats, butter-smelter and nut crackers in hand, when a parade burst into the hall. It was led by a human-sized dancing crab. Behind it were dozens of helpers that shuttled our meals to the table.

The wild rumpus had begun!

So we settled into crab-cracking and chowing down. After a while, the good food and wine instilled a genial mood.

Photo by Viva La Foto

A bit later, we donned goofy hats and took pictures—courtesy Viva La Foto. There was lots of laughter, clowning, and general silliness. It was fun, but it was more than that, too. Something special was afoot—the evening had the feeling of a homecoming. There was a sense of people gathering who shared a deep bond.

I’m a newcomer to the “Feed,” and I hadn’t expected to be affected in this way. “What makes this event so moving,” I wondered. And on a more practical level asked myself, “How on earth can this huge thing run so smoothly?”

I pondered this, and decided to find out.

So afterward, I tracked down event coordinator and Fund Development Manager Kristi Hanson. She was pleased that I’d enjoyed myself, and was eager to explain what made for the magic.

My quick take: a whole lot of cool people come together for a worthy cause.

Hanson put it in more elegantly than that.

“So many, many people make this happen,” she said. “And it’s such an affirmation. People don’t have to spend $45 to eat a crab dinner. And they all know that. But it’s how they get involved, and it’s wonderful.”

She ticked off a list of volunteers’ names, and I scribbled frantically to keep up, after several minutes, my hands ached and my pen went dry.

It takes a village to dish up two tons of crustaceans.

I also put to her the other BIG question I had on my mind:

“How do you manage to get all the food out at once?”

She laughed.

“A lot of people ask me that,” she said. “Again, we have a lot of help. And we set it up to run like a CDF Incident Command Center. It’s all planned out, and we have fantastic volunteers.”

I have to agree. The food was great and the service superb. Everyone was in high spirits.

Hanson explained a bit more about the logistics, and there’s a HUGE crew that makes it all work. Many of them are behind the scenes. There are many teams—comprised of almost 200 individuals—who come from all parts of our community.

Some have been volunteering for years, others have recently signed on. These people make it possible for the shelter to have the funds it need, for families to get counseling or legal help, and for One Safe Place to send outreach counselors to local schools to educate kids about safe dating. They also help schools fight bullying and harassment.

What could be more important?

It’s ironic that such a serious problem can be fought with such an upbeat and playful event. But it’s a beautiful thing, and if you haven’t had the chance to attend, I encourage you to mark it on your calendar for next year.

I know that “lists are deadly.” Writers are urged to avoid them. But I encourage you to take a look at this one, provided to my be Kristi Hanson. I think it’s a sort of honor roll of our community. Give my best to these good people, both the individuals AND their organizations.

Kudos to you all:

The Active 20/30 Club, led by Kim Glems
Bethel Church, led by Nancy Barrett
Blue Shield, led by Nicole Broulliard and David Lindsay
Camp Hope Youth Leaders, led by Michael Burke
Coldwell Banker C & C Properties, led by Evie Cameron
Lowes, led by Stacie Coker
Patient’s Hospital, led Renee Thompson
Redding East Rotary, led by Charlie Menoher
Redding West Rotary, led by Joe Bowers
Rotoract Club Members of Shasta College, led by Kelly Nickel
Shasta Roller Derby, led by Karen Suda and Pamme Stanberry
Starbucks, led by Donna Bowman
Unity Church, led by Denise Graham
Whiskeytown, led by Brian Rasmussen and Jan De Hate

Lee Luft , Auctioneer Extraordinaire

Food Prep led by Laurie Davis
Crab Prep: led by Mike McCrea
Good News Rescue Mission: Washed all those crusty dishes and cookware
Dining Room Manager: Dave Plowman; Melanie Hunter of Sharrah, Dunlap & Sawyer; Kelly Tucker of the Record Searchlight; OSP board members Barbara Harrison, Randall Hempling, Charlie Menoher, Chris Haedrich, Jay Farquhar; and many, many, many other individuals.

I think this is an impressive cross-section of our community. I think they all rock.

And now that we’ve got the roller-derby on board, they roll, too.

While I was digesting this information, Kristi shared some numbers with me. All those volunteers above had plenty to do.

Check it out.

Saturday night, there were more than 1,050 paid guests. And they…

Ate 4,400 pounds of fresh Dungeness crab.
Consumed 100 gallons of “World Famous Anderson Rotary Clam Chowder.”
Nibbled on 16 gallons of cocktail sauce.
Melted or spread 75 pounds of butter.
Uncorked 400 bottles of wine.
Tossed 175 pounds of salad.
Sliced 175 loaves of French bread.
And chased it all down with 1,200 snicker doodles.

That’s a lot of slicing, dicing and snicker-doodling.

And then Hanson told me a story about the Feed’s major sponsors.

Each year the event has its challenges. And this year was no exception.

“This year the price of crab was up, significantly,” Hanson said. “But a group of banks did something unprecedented. They banded together and underwrote the entire cost of the crab.”

So, next time you’re in the lobby of the Redding Bank of Commerce, Tri-Counties Bank, North Valley Bank, or Cornerstone Community Bank. Let them know you heard the story.

Thanks to them, more than 1,000 people got crabs.

Well, maybe you could put it a bit differently.

And you can go to www.ospshasta.org to make your own contribution.

Other Crab Feed sponsors include:

Royal Crustacean sponsors Shasta Regional Medical Center and Curtis & Elizabeth Weishahn.
“King Crustacean” sponsor Haleakala Walnut Shelling.
King Crab Sponsors: Florence Hungerford, Redding Rancheria, Rolling Hills Casino, Barr & Mudford, Layne Larson, Swift Properties, Fitzpatrick Fund
Snow Crab sponsors: Bill & Mary Stegall, Smart Business Resource Center
Fiddler Crab sponsors; Donald Rhodes, Cool Covers
“Top Tier” Media Sponsors: Public Television – KIXE, Results Radio


One last story about One Safe Place.

Today it is a joint effort, involving teams of professionals, volunteers, and community members.

But it began with just one person.

Back in the 1970s, a 72-year-old woman named Gretchen Peterson decided it was time to take action.

She’d seen enough, heard enough and sat by long enough when it came to domestic violence in her community.

So she opened her home to victims of domestic violence. Over the course of five or more years, she took in battered women and their children. On more than one occasion, she hired a yellow cab and rode out to fetch them.

Photo credit One Safe Place

She had a shotgun in her lap.

Her actions led community leaders, notably the American Association of University Women, to step up and look for a safer method of providing aid.

The results, over the next 40 years, are what we see today at One Safe Place, which just a couple of years ago joined the Women’s Shelter with The Family Justice Center to provide a wide range of services, all coordinated under one roof.

But it all began, years ago, with just a one woman’s determination.

And she didn’t even have the roller derby backing her up.

Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County. He can be reach at robb@robblightfoot.com.

Robb Lightfoot is a humorist, author and educator. He and his wife raised a family of four kids, a dozen or more dogs and a zillion cats. He has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to teaching at Shasta Community College, and his former column on A News Cafe - "Or So it Seems™" - Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the "Funny Times". His short stories have won honorable mention in national competitions. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-10 finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives and writes in Chico where he manages ThinkingFunny.com. He also hates referring to himself in the third person, and will stop doing so immediately. I can be reached in the following ways: Robb@thinkingfunny.com PO Box 5286 Chico, CA 95928 @_thinking_funny on Twitter
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8 Responses

  1. ajac37 ajac37 says:

    Now I'm hungry for crab all over again . . ., . and I have to wait another eleven months???!!! I've done the crab feed on several occasion but missed it this year . . . my loss!! Thank you Robb for listing all the back stage volunteers and for highlighting the banks that underwrote the crab. DO WE HAVE AN AWEOME COMMUNITY, OR WHAT??

  2. Avatar do23ug says:


    Thanks for giving exposure to a great event/cause. Tickets to the crab feed make popular gifts for office and friends. I've very much enjoyed the event for all the reasons you mention.

    Doug Mudford

  3. thanks for the fun article! i was a guest there and had a great time eating crab, including biting into a giant one in the picture at the top of this page. i think this is the most amazing organizations and am so proud that my sister has been a part of if for many years, and now is one of the top people. i've had the pleasure of helping at another of their wonderful fund raisers "vanity fair party" the last few years, thats at the end of october, mark your calendar, great place for ladies to get dressed up and have a great night out.

    tory meredith

  4. Avatar Laurie Davis says:

    A ship does not run well without it’s captain at the helm…the same goes for THIS Crab Feed! Without Kristi Hanson’s pleasant personality, excellent direction and fine tuning this “Ship” could easily run aground! Young, old, students,company presidents and everyone in between feel a part of the team! Thanks to Kristi and the whole ocean of participants that make this a successful endeavor. As a survivor and crisis line volunteer I see first hand – the benefits of what this is ALL about! Thanks!

  5. Robb,
    Thanks so much for a terrific article! It is indeed an amazing show of support by our community to so many of our hurting neighbors. We also want to send a special thanks to Cornernstone Community Bank for their sponsorship and help in underwriting the cost of crab this year. As you said, "lists are deadly", but a quick shout out to a few others like Lee Luft our Auctioneer who may have just helped us set a record this year, Kelly Nickel with his crew of Rotoract Club Members at Shasta College and the Good News Rescue Mission for washing all those crab encrusted dishes! We appreciate everyone so much!!!
    – Ken White, Development Director at One SAFE Place

    • Thanks, Kenneth, for tactfully pointing out an oversight on my part. I've asked that Cornerstone's name be added to Kristi's quote because I do remember he mentioning them… even though I slipped up in my notes and didn't get it down on paper. Should have read it back to her. The other names are good to know, too. I didn't have access to these. I'd also like someone to help me out and post here names of the auction-items donors. I didn't have those, and realized at deadline that I needed them. I know there was a rafting company and many others.

      My apologies to Cornerstone Bank for my omission. They're my bank, I very much appreciate them. Sorry to leave you out.

  6. A correction and update: Cornerstone Bank was omitted from the sponsor's list. My apologies for this oversight. This is my error. And I'm happy to add the names of others who also contributed to the crab feed: Here they are.

    Royal Crustacean sponsors Shasta Regional Medical Center and Curtis & Elizabeth Weishahn.

    “King Crustacean” sponsor Haleakala Walnut Shelling.

    Media Sponsors and special thanks to tier one television and radio sponsors:

    • Your local public television station KIXE
    • Results Radio

    King Crab Sponsors:

    Florence Hungerford
    Redding Rancheria
    Rolling Hills Casino
    Barr & Mudford
    Layne Larson
    Swift Properties
    Fitzpatrick Fund

    Snow Crab sponsors: Bill & Mary Stegall, Smart Business Resource Center

    Fiddler Crab sponsors; Donald Rhodes, Cool Covers