When I see yellow daffodils emerge from the ground and watch almond orchards blossom in explosions of white, I think, naturally, of -- crab.
It must be a Pavlovian response. The signs of spring in early March remind me each year that coming soon is the event so many people enjoy: the Los Banos Rotary Crab Feed.
This year's crab feed will be March 30. As it has in the recent past, the event will be held on a Friday evening at the Los Banos Fairgrounds Exhibit Building. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m.; dinner will served starting at 7.
When I feel the warmth of the spring sun, I can't help but think of that meal: all the crab you can eat, plus pasta with Los Banos Rotary's secret sauce, bread, salad, and wine, as well as other hosted beverages served before the meal.
The signs of spring also remind me to buy my tickets well in advance of the crab feed date, because the feed always seems to sell out. In early March I start looking for Rotarians, because by now they have crab feed tickets in hand.
This year's tickets will be $45 dollars each, an increase of five dollars over last year. "We didn't want to raise the ticket prices at all," said Rotarian Tony Whitehurst, the chair of the event, "but the price of crab is up about two dollars a pound this year and the typical person at the crab feed eats about two pounds of crab.
"By covering the increased cost of the crab," Whitehurst said, "we will still be able to raise from the event the dollars needed to fund the local projects our Rotary club supports--including college scholarships for high school seniors, Boy Scout Troop 85, the local library, and many other community projects."
It won't be hard to find a Rotarian with tickets. The members of the local club gear up for this event well in advance, since this is the main fundraiser of the year. Anyone who can't find a Rotarian nearby can contact Toni Moreno for tickets on her cell phone (752-9400) or on her business phone at Rooney's (826-3981).
The crab feed will once again feature a raffle with hundreds of items donated by local merchants and Rotarians. Many people look forward to the raffle because, with so many prizes, they have such a good chance of winning.
"We want to make the event as enjoyable as possible," said Rotary club president Steve Tietjen. "Traditionally this is a 'fun event' for all, and we want to continue that tradition. We'll make sure everyone gets served promptly and get all the pasta and salad and crab they can eat.
"Our Rotary and Interact servers want everyone at each table table smiling and having a good time," Tietjen said. "That's one of the reasons we have so many 'return customers' each year. People know that besides contributing to a good cause they'll have a good time."
I anticipate another good crab feed turnout this year. Los Banosans have a reputation of both supporting their local community and enjoying themselves. And I encourage persons interested in the event to get their tickets now to make sure they're included in the fun.
In other matters: Here are two reminders about events taking place today:
The Arbor Day Breakfast: If you're reading the Enterprise soon after it was delivered to your home, you still have time to attend the Milliken Museum's Arbor Day Breakfast.
The breakfast will be served today from 7 to 10 a.m. at the Miller and Lux building. All proceeds will benefit the community's historical museum, under the direction of dedicated local residents who volunteer their time.
The Arbor Day Celebration will take place at 4 p.m. today in Verona Park, 2200 Palermo Dr., a few blocks west and north of Pacheco High School.
This will be a day to celebrate trees, honor young people who have won awards with art works and essays related to trees, celebrate another Tree City USA designation for Los Banos, and watch a demonstration of proper tree planting techniques, all of this within less than an hour.
(Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 28 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to email@example.com.)