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Claws for concern

RJ Boughner, right, watches warily as Thomas Kramer serves up fresh Dungeness crab at the 2016 annual Charleston Crab Feed. 

CHARLESTON — Here’s a sweetheart of a deal: Celebrate an early Valentine’s Day with friends and family at the 33rd Annual Charleston Crab Feed on Saturday.

Hundreds of Dungeness crab, Oregon’s official crustacean, will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the North Bend Community Center, 2222 Broadway.

“This is a great opportunity to support the seafood community and the Charleston Merchants Association," said Margery Whitmer, board member of the Charleston Merchants Association.

The "Crack Up" Crab Feed features fresh Oregon Dungeness Crab from Charleston and is the main fundraising event for the Charleston Visitor Information Center, and also provides funding for other needs in the Charleston community.

“This is one of the community’s favorite festivals. It gives locals and visitors a chance to meet with old friends and make new ones, while cracking tasty Oregon Dungeness crab,” said Charleston Harbormaster John Buckley. “Our Dungeness crab fishery is certified sustainable, and all of the large meaty crab the volunteers serve at the festival is caught by our very own Charleston fishermen.”

Volunteers will serve whole or half fresh crab dinners with side dishes, rolls and a beverage. Whole crab dinners are $20 and half crab dinners are $16, but prices are subject to the markets.

On a positive note, the recent concerns about toxins in crab caught between Coos Bay and Florence can be forgotten. Oregon state agencies notified the commercial industry Wednesday that tests for any domoic acid in Dungeness crab locally were well below the action threshold. Tests showed the naturally occurring toxin was present in the crab viscera, or innards, of one crab, but the meat is perfectly fine for consumption.

“Other crab feeds have sold out,” said Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Executive Director Hugh Link. “All crab that has been eviscerated or has had the guts removed is safe to eat.”

There also is an all-you-can-eat crab feed hosted by the Port Orford Rotary Club at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Port Orford Community Building, 419 11th St. in Port Orford. Tickets are $35 each and include crab, cole slaw, beans, bread and dessert, live entertainment and a no-host bar. Tickets are available online at www.portorfordrotary.org, by calling 541-991-0131 or at the door.

Oregon crabbers have landed 13.1 million pounds of crab so far this year as fishermen and processors work most of the days to catch and process Dungeness crab. It’s been wildly popular because the crab are in such great shape.

“Get out of the weather, grab your friends and enjoy some great Dungeness crab,” West Coast Seafood Processors Association Deputy Director Susan Chambers said. “The crab are really full this year and really delicious.”

The Charleston Crab Feed will host other local vendors, beer and wine sold separately and great prize drawings.

Look for Louie on the lawn at the North Bend Community Center and you’ll be in the right place.

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