Knights of Columbus to Hold Drive-Thru Crab Dinner

One of the area’s most successful — and delicious — charitable events will be moving forward early next year, with some modifications due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

The local chapter of the Knights of Columbus will hold their 24th annual Charity Auction and Crab Dinner — drive-thru-style.

“It’s still a work in progress,” admitted Mike Schmader, chair of the annual event and a former leader of the Canby Knights of Columbus. “We have to teach some old dogs new tricks in that regard. But it will be drive-thru — or ‘contactless,’ as they say nowadays. You won’t even have to get out of your car.”

The event will be held on its traditional date of the first Saturday in February — Feb. 6 this year — but the group has begun selling tickets online now, in hopes of getting the word out about the modified event.

The Knights also need to collect orders well in advance to ensure they order and prepare enough Dungeness crab and other grub. (No official deadline has been set, but Schmader asks folks to get their orders in by the last week of January at the latest.)

Mike Schmader speaks at a Knights of Columbus-hosted flag raising at Wait Park in observance of Veterans Day 2020. Photo by Tyler Francke.

There will be a non-seafood entrée for landlubbers (homemade chicken cordon bleu) as a vegetarian option, as well. Sides include Caesar salad, coleslaw, rice pilaf and rolls from Fir Point Farms (“They’re second to none,” Schmader promises).

The annual event typically draws more than 400 to the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, and nets at least $40,000 each year for a host of local charitable causes, including The Canby Center, Canby’s St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank, Canby Utility’s “Share the Warmth” program and the Canby Pregnancy Care Center.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much need is really out there,” said Schmader. “It just feels so good to be able to give money to these organizations that are doing the work that we might not be able to do physically, but we can support them financially. We are just excited to be able to help them in any way.”

In addition to these, the Knights select a “special appeal” each year to help a local family that is especially in need of support.

This year’s selection is the Barrosa family, a single mother with five children who have lost everything and had to start from scratch twice — once while fleeing domestic violence, and again this year due to the Santiam Canyon wildfires.

The Knights have elected to forego the silent and live auction this year (due to the economic challenges facing many local businesses — who typically supply most of the lots), but will raffle off several items.

On the plus side, dinner prices will be lower this year due to reduced expenses associated with a drive-thru event as opposed to in-person. And, there will be the potential of hosting even more diners than usual — albeit from a distance.

“This year, we’re excited to still be able to provide a crab dinner for folks that they can take home and enjoy at their leisure, and just keep this flame flickering,” Schmader said.

“And we’re just hoping and praying that in 2022, we’ll be able to have it back at the Main Pavilion, welcome all our friends back and party like there’s no tomorrow.”

Schmader praised Executive Director Laurie Bothwell and the other staff at the fairgrounds for helping accommodate the modified event and develop the drive-thru route.

The event started in the late ’90s at St. Patrick Catholic Church, but had soon grown enough to be moved to a larger venue.

The event is known for the many local nonprofits and charitable endeavors it supports, as well as the “interactive” nature of the dinner: Only plastic eating utensils are provided, so diners must come equipped and prepared to crack their own crab.

For more about the Knights of Columbus and their plans for a drive-thru version of the annual Crab Dinner, check out our interview with Mike Schmader on Episode 223 of Now Hear This: Canby, “Full of Crab”:

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