With over 300 diners in attendance, the Escalon Community Center was packed with people eager to crack into some crab on Saturday night.
It was the annual Escalon Kiwanis Club Crab Feed, and the evening saw more than 30 Escalon High School Key Club members volunteering their time to serve diners. The event is a major fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club, and part of the proceeds go toward high school scholarships. The Key Club on campus is the youth division of the community’s Kiwanis Club.
Seafood Express out of Stockton served as caterer for the event, with diners enjoying a full course meal, from salad and rolls to pasta, and then the main attraction – crab – followed up by dessert. Wine was provided at the tables and there was also a no host bar. Other offerings of the evening were a silent auction, raffle drawings for a number of prizes and a live auction as well.
“We have 312 people, a sellout,” noted Escalon Kiwanis Club member and crab feast coordinator Pam Dyer.
This year’s diners at the VIP table – bid on during the 2014 event – included members of the Rampoldi family of Escalon and they were treated to some extra special elements, including butter warmers to melt the butter for dipping, special wine glasses, a linen tablecloth and first class service, with no shortage of food to enjoy.
“I think I bid around $600 and then I bought two extra tickets,” said Mary Ann Rampoldi, seated at the head of the VIP table.
She said she and the other diners at the table were enjoying the meal this year in honor and remembrance of her husband, the late Thomas Rampoldi, who passed away in September. He was ailing last year at this time, Mary Ann explained, and he had wanted to attend the crab feed so she got the VIP table for this year, intending to enjoy the dinner with him.
“It is in his honor,” she said.
Among those dining with her were her daughter, sister, and several close friends.
Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges also had a table at the event, bringing his wife and several friends to enjoy the feed. At another table, Linda Martinez of Modesto was busy pulling crab out of the crab legs and dipping the meat in butter.
“I’m here with my daughter,” she said. “She’s a branch manager at Oak Valley Community Bank here in Escalon.”
Dyer said she was pleased to see so many local residents supporting the Kiwanis Club and, in turn, the local students.
Ryan Newman of Seafood Express said there shouldn’t have been any reason for diners to leave hungry.
“We had a little over 900 pounds of crab and 41 pounds of dry pasta,” he said of cooking up major amounts of food. The crab was cooked at their Stockton facility but much of the other food preparation was done on site.
There were 39 tables set up around the community center and a total of 32 Key Club students working the room, under the direction of Key Club advisor Rick Heflin.
Student and Key Club member Kaitlyn Jamie said she was enjoying the work, serving the diners, but her table was singing and banging their fists on the table, chanting ‘We Want Crab.’
It was all in good fun, diners said, getting into the spirit of the evening. Sophomore Yajaira Salinas said she was also happy to help out, and enjoys her membership in the Key Club on campus.
“I like volunteering and the feeling I get, plus it’s fun to be a part of something,” Salinas said.
Junior Juli Avila was busy throughout the night, making sure diners at her assigned tables had plenty of food.
“I like spending time with my friends and talking to people, starting conversations,” she said of interacting with fellow Key Clubbers and the dining room full of 300-plus.
Key Club members wore nametags and many listed their college or career choices.
For Avila, she took a slightly different approach, listing on her name tag – Lady Gaga, Oprah and Fall Out Boy.
“Those are really what I am in to right now,” she said, chuckling, adding that the nametag trio was a good conversation starter.
She also had another reason for volunteering on Saturday night.
“I love the smell of crab,” she said.