The Week — Oct. 11: Crab Fest adopts Victoria flare

Port Angeles Crab Fest adopts Victoria flare, and VEMA asks: are you ready for the big one, yet?

John Sarich from Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington readies a dish at the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Fest.

Crab Fest adopts Victoria flare

It might take a scuttle across the water, but one of the region’s most anticipated seafood festivals is crawling near to town this weekend and, this year, will showcase some of Victoria’s finest chefs.

Twelve of the northwest’s top chefs will indulge sea-foodies and fun-seekers alike, as each demonstrates a personal best during the 11th-annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, taking place Oct. 13 and 14 in Port Angeles.

While the event is just a ferry jaunt away, organizers have had to work hard to amplify this year’s showcase, with an extra emphasis on what their seaside neighbour has to offer. On Oct. 13, Victoria chef and Island cooking instructor Les Chan will put on a display teaching onlookers how to create “B.C. Dim Sum with Crab.” Then, on Oct. 14, award-winning chef Garrett Schack of Vista 18 will present “Savory Dungeness Crab and Summer Squash Donuts with Spicy Bacon Aioli” to the hungry crowd.

“Canada is an important part of the success of this festival, and we know from walk-on statistics on the ferry that nearly 1,000 Victorians come over every year,” says festival producing director Scott Nagel. “So, we think it only makes sense to showcase and support Victoria, too, and really show each other what is going on right across the water.”

While the past few years have seen between 12,000 and 15,000 attendees, Nagel says the price of crab has risen exponentially, and does pose a threat to the festival’s longevity — especially as the event demands 12,000 pounds of the shellfish.

“In recessions, festivals historically do very well because they are usually free, and people can bring the whole family to have a good time,” says Nagel. “That’s no exception for us, but because we are getting all of our crab fresh, right at the start of crabbing season, it is very expensive, and people are spending less money.”

Though not every visitor will take on the challenges of navigating U.S. customs, riding the ferry and finding overnight lodging just to hang out with a bunch of crabs, Nagel encourages Islanders to take the opportunity for a day trip, with even the Coho ferry schedules increasing this year to accommodate Victorians. Of course, there will be non-seafood fare for kids and family members who prefer the land. This year’s event also offers the second-annual “Crab Revival” Sunday morn from 9-10:30am, with gospel singing accompanying an à la carte crab brunch.

“This is really a way to celebrate the bounty of our region and the Olympic Peninsula, and build on that sense of seaside community,” says Nagel. “You pretty much can have an incredible time, then take the ferry ride home.”

For more information, visit crabfestival.org, or phone 1-360-452-6300. Admission is free.

Ready for the big one, yet?

No surprise to hear Victoria has a one-in-three probability of a seriously damaging earthquake in the next 50 years. But before you turn off to the idea that this is just another fear-mongering message about something we can’t control, the Victoria Emergency Management Agency is coming forth again this year with its free “Emergency Preparedness Workshops,” in the hopes people will take a proactive stance.

“There are many different types of emergencies that can force you to leave your home immediately, whether that’s an earthquake, fire or other event,” says Rob Johns, emergency coordinator for VEMA. “Our goal is to encourage people to be prepared for that variety of events, whether they live in a house, apartment or basement suite.”

While VEMA takes a firm stance that it’s not a matter of if, but when, Johns says a surprising number of people have not done anything to learn how to protect themselves, their families, their pets or property. Over 1,200 attended the 90-minute workshops in 2011, after the earthquake in Japan, but so far this year only 500 Victorians have participated. The next workshop will be held Mon., Oct. 15, 7-9pm at James Bay New Horizons (234 Menzies). More at PrepareVictoria.ca.

“What we see here is that many people don’t have any frame of reference. They may not have experienced any major disaster to compare it to,” says Johns. “But what we’ve learned from research into some of the worst disasters, is that if or when those people took even some preparation ahead of time, the results were lifesaving.”

Johns, who has been in an emergency management role in the city for 12 years now, says, rather than a scare tactic, emergency preparedness is just “one of the things we need to do in life.”

“This is just like putting on your seat belt. It’s something you can do that will make you more comfortable, safer and help you move forward, faster.” M

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