The crab out at sea might not be feasting, but crab lovers on land have not given up hope of feasting on them - particularly Robert Grosz, coordinator of the Southern Oregon Crabfest, set for Jan. 25.

As of Wednesday, all 250 crab dinner tickets for the inaugural event were sold out, he announced. Free activities and entertainment are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the same day.

"A lot of the crabbers really stepped up - specifically a couple boats are pulling for us," Grosz said. "A lot of people have been saying, 'Hey, it's about time we get something seafood related back in town.' We'll see how it goes."

Grosz and numerous other volunteers have been busy for months advertising, soliciting sponsors and hiring entertainment for the event, which will be held at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Today, 35 kindergarten to second-grade students will be at Flora Pacifica creating centerpieces for the crab dinner. Their work begins at 10 a.m. The decorations will feature succulents and nautical items and will be auctioned off at the festival with the proceeds going to the Master Gardener program at Kalmiopsis Elementary and Azalea Middle schools.

Although the nighttime festivities are sold out, there is still plenty to do at the Crabfest that day, Grosz said. Activities will include the opportunity to meet crab fishermen, view their boats and buy crab off the dock; shop the vendors - all of whom have been asked to supply nautical- or crab-themed items - sample local beers at the beer garden and participate in crab races. Crabfest officials also plan to hold a Brookings crab treasure hunt and a coloring, painting or design competition for children.

A 6,000-square-foot tent will be erected and heaters set up if foul weather forces participants inside.

Many events will benefit local nonprofits and school groups, Grosz said.

In addition to the auction of the table centerpieces, a crab chowder cook-off will be featured with proceeds going to Pennies for Pooches. A $5 pre-registration is required to compete; tastings are $5. Set-up is at 1:30 p.m., with the public serving as tasters and voters beginning at 2 p.m. The winners - first prize gets $75 and second place wins $25 - will be announced at 3:15 p.m.

Brookings-Harbor High School students will serve food at the dinner and part of the event's proceeds will go to its athletic department. Cape Ferrelo firefighters, who are cooking the crab, will benefit as well.

Volunteers were Grosz's biggest worry when he proposed the idea to city officials.

"I thought I didn't know enough people, but it all worked out," he said. "There are a bunch of great people in this town."

Grosz started small for the inaugural year event.

"Had we had the space, we could've done dinner for 500 - or even 750," he said. "I think next year will be a lot easier and a lot bigger, too. We sold out before the bulk of our advertising went out. We're kind of selling Brookings now: Come see the festival, come see Brookings, spend the weekend.

"If they leave at the end of the day and people have smiles on their faces, take it from there," he added. That spells success."

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