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April 2, 2023

First-ever Drive-Thru Crab Feed a booming success

WATSONVILLE—Following the tremendous success of the first-ever Holiday Lights Drive-thru at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds during Christmas, the 2021 Drive-Thru Crab Feed proved to be another booming hit Saturday.

Fairgrounds Foundation spokesman Ron Haedicke said they sold out all 472 meals in the inaugural event.

“It went very smoothly, thanks to so many that came forward to help,” Haedicke said. 

Starting at 1pm, a file of vehicles inched through the fairgrounds where Sam the Crab (Sam Cooley dressed as a giant red crab), Michelle Navarro and John Kegebein helped guests load their vehicles with the meals at the Harvest Building. 

Around the side of the building others helped load up bottles of wine and items purchased during a silent auction, which also sold out.

The Crab Feed has for years been a sit-down dinner fundraiser for the foundation, which last year was named the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s Organization of the Year. It made the shift to the new format due to the pandemic, just as the recent Holiday Lights event.

John King said he drove from Felton to fetch two crab dinners.

“Well worth the drive,” he said. “It’s all well organized. I just drove through in a few minutes. This is our first time taking part in their crab feed.”

Edith Kulstein, 96, of Aptos, was the backseat passenger of another car that passed through.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s exciting and different. It’s what we can do to be supportive of our fairgrounds.”

Haedicke said that among the first guests to arrive was a group of five Corvette sports cars from the Santa Clara Corvettes.

“It was amazing to see them all lined up,” Haedicke said. “We’re grateful so many folks came out. Everyone was so positive. We never had more than three of four cars waiting and at 5pm we handed out our last meal.”

Haedicke said the auction drew in $13,500 and he is estimating the feed snared between $35,000-40,000.

“All of it goes into the foundation,” he said. “Stay tuned for more surprises like this in the future.”

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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