Schaefer feast draws 2,800 Shore event raises money for charities

September 14, 1992|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

CHESTERTOWN -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer and 2,800 of his closest friends gathered beneath an enormous lawn tent Saturday on the banks of the Chester River and, in a cacophony of wooden mallets, laid open 110 bushels of Chesapeake Bay steamed crabs.

The occasion was the sixth annual William Donald Schaefer Crab Feast, an event that elicits groans from many of the locals who live here but raises thousands of dollars for charity contributions made throughout the state in the governor's name.

The feast attracts members of the governor's inner circle of associates, as well as state workers, private supporters and business representatives who clamor to be seen by Mr. Schaefer.

Few Chestertown residents show up at the event. Some complain that the influx of cars and buses bringing outsiders to the town disrupts local traffic. Others say they think the governor, who once called the Eastern Shore the equivalent of an outhouse, should have his crab feast on the Western Shore.

But Chestertown Mayor Elmer Horsey, a friend of the governor's and one of the crab feast's organizers, pointed to the business the event brings to the downtown area.

"It's good economically for us," said Mr. Horsey, who conceded that his constituents often criticize him for his association with the governor. "These days in politics, someone's going to go after you for any reason."

The crab feast began six years ago with the goal of raising money to buy furniture and other interior decorations for the governor's mansion in Annapolis.

But for the past four years, profits have been distributed to individuals, organizations and neighborhoods in need of financial help. Profits from the crab feast have been used to purchase uniforms for baseball teams, a van for a civic organization and playground equipment for a public park.

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