THIS MONTH, Rotary Club of Annapolis is planning its biggest annual fund-raising event: its 56th Crab Feast, to be held Aug. 3 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Last year, the event raised enough to enable the group to award $42,000 in grants to benefit the community.
The group expects 2,400 people to attend its party. To feed so many guests, members arrange for 360 bushels of crabs, 3,600 ears of corn, 75 gallons of crab soup, 2,000 hot dogs and 150 pounds of beef barbecue.
New to the event is the "Share-A-Crab" conservation policy to help reduce waste while still supporting fisheries.
The feast is an all-you-can-eat affair, so guests are encouraged to take all they want but to eat all they take and share any extra with a neighbor - a policy that drew praise from Chesapeake Bay Foundation senior scientist Bill Goldsborough.
"We applaud the Annapolis Rotary Club for instituting its Share-A-Crab policy, and for its efforts to support the seafood industry while still conserving the Chesapeake's precious blue crabs," he said.
Tickets for the Crab Feast, scheduled from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., are $35 for adults and $12 for children ages 6 to 12. Admission for children under 6 is free.
Tickets are available online at www.annapolisrotary.com, from Rotary Club members or at the door. Advance purchase is recommended. Silent and live auctions will be featured at the event.
The feast, which Annapolis Rotary calls "the biggest summer event in Annapolis," pays off handsomely for local nonprofit organizations.
Because club members pay their own administrative costs, 100 percent of all funds raised go to local organizations. The crabs, soup and corn are purchased from Shore Lines Seafood in Gambrills. Hot dogs and beef barbecue are donated by Adams Ribs.
According to Dick Royer, incoming club president and Crab Feast chairman in 1999, the group gave three large grants this year.
The Salvation Army, which is undertaking an aggressive capital campaign for a new building, received a three-year commitment worth $25,000 toward a computer room in the new facility.
The club granted the Chesapeake Bay Foundation $8,500 toward the creation of an oyster reef in the Severn River.
The third large donation was a $6,100 grant to the Opportunities Industrialization Center - a group that Rotary has supported for years - to train disadvantaged people for employment. Twelve other nonprofit organizations received grants ranging from $300 to $2,500.
The group funds projects that help the community and result in a specific improvement to the quality of life for Annapolis residents. Grants are not available to help cover an organization's normal operating costs.
Grant applications are due in March each year and are awarded later in the spring. Applications and information are available on the group's Web site.
Royer, an Annapolis resident since 1974 and owner-publisher of Chesapeake Bay and Offshore magazines, counts his chairmanship of the Crab Feast as his proudest accomplishment in 16 years with Rotary.
"It is a big undertaking and takes a full year to plan. We did very well," Royer said. "It was a very good year for charity."
When Royer is installed as the Annapolis Rotary's next president Thursday, he will usher in a change, as Rotary changes its weekly lunchtime meeting location for the first time in 38 years.
This week, the 80-year-old group will bid a fond farewell to the Fleet Reserve Club and give an enthusiastic hello to the Chart House.
Royer's priority as president will be building membership. The club has about 100 members. While Rotary International encourages local clubs to reach for one new member per month, Royer wants to be more aggressive. He would like to see 50 members join Rotary during his yearlong presidency.
The group has established a relationship with the Junior Chamber of Commerce - better known as the Jaycees - to support each other's programs and to offer members of the Jaycees a place to continue their service when they reach their organization's cutoff age of 40.
In addition to the Crab Feast, two of the group's other activities are holiday bell-ringing for the Salvation Army collections and Christmas in April.
The Crab Feast offers participants a great time while they support a good cause - and they might even find a home with Rotary.
Looking for tuggers
The Maritime Republic of Eastport is seeking a new opponent for the annual tug of war across the "Bay of Eastport."
Seems the Annapolis Jaycees, the longstanding MRE rival in the event, have declined to participate this year. So willing competitors are encouraged to organize their strong, fun-loving friends, family and colleagues for an opportunity to unseat the reigning champions from Eastport, and to raise boatloads of money for charity. There is plenty of time to train and to hire mercenaries for the event, which is held the first Saturday in November.
Information: Mike Raab, 410-991-5997 or 703-851-1876.