As you wander through the pages of this month’s Farm News you will no doubt either recall your personal experience from attending, or learn about what you missed from the 28th annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest. Yes, it was a very successful event again and remains as one of the largest, if not the largest, Dungeness crab feeds synonymous with winter along the North Coast. As I am learning, it truly is a much anticipated event that allows us to bring together supporters for a combined fundraiser and culinary experience.
Success this year translated into having roughly 1,500 friends, supporters and members of Farm Bureau once again share their space in the expansive Grace Pavilion to enjoy an evening of fellowship and also step up with their dollars to support the future of agriculture in Sonoma County. Early indications are this support will have raised the largest amount to date that will, in turn, become scholarships for deserving students who are continuing their education following high school. Applications for these scholarships are administered through the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County and are now available here.
During the Crab Feed this year, I was asked a question by a longtime volunteer who suggested the answer might be a good topic for a column stating, “What does it take to pull off this event?” Of course, the planning begins soon after everything is cleaned up by evaluating what was good and what can be tweaked, but in earnest, arrangements begin in July and really ramp up beginning in December. Staff time roughly estimated is more than 1,100 hours annually, but the additional time donated by over 300 volunteers including about 150 FFA and 4-H members and local youth sports teams is invaluable.
When you add in another 70 or so staff members from local wineries and restaurants who offer tastings during the reception and the dedicated Rose Valley group who oversees the food preparation and serving, it is amazing to realize what it takes to serve 1,500 guests nearly 5,000 pounds of Dungeness crab accompanied by 100 gallons of clam chowder (was it ever tasty), 160 pounds of pasta, 100 crab-shaped bread loaves, 1,700 dinner rolls and topped off by 4,500 small desserts. Refreshments? Following the reception guests enjoy cases of donated bottled water and soft drinks, hundreds of bottles of table wine and seven kegs of beer.
Another question that was overheard frequently this year was, “Where’s the crab?” The answer lies in the California Fire Code. Due to “Crabby’s” enormous presence suspended at roughly 10 feet tall and 30 feet across, he violates the restriction of obstructing the fire sprinkler system by approximately 25 feet. Mark your calendars now for February 3, 2018 to see if we can devise a way to usher in the return of the crab.