Crab Crack kicks off ’17 season in Tonopah


Tonopah’s 2017 special events season is underway with a full house at this year’s 47th Annual Crab Crack, hosted by the Tonopah Elks Lodge.

The Feb. 25 event in the Tonopah Convention Center served as fundraiser for educational scholarships awarded by the Elks.

“I’m excited,” Tonopah Elks Exalted Ruler Wayne Westby said as the crowd filed in. “It’s always a great event to have every year to help out the kids for their scholarship fund. It’s all for the kids. All the profit we make from it all goes into the scholarship fund.”

Tickets sell for $45 each with only 200 tickets available, putting them in demand.

“We’ve got all the tickets sold, and I’ve got people on a waiting list,” said Dustin Bayne, 2017 Crab Crack chairman. “So we’ve done well this year.”

To bolster the scholarship funds, guests at the dinner tables bid for the chance to go to the serving lines first. The first two tables alone raised $1,100, funds that go to the scholarships.

The 2017 Crab Crack featured 925 pounds of crab brought in from Astoria, Oregon.

Weeks of planning went into the Crab Crack, In addition to its signature dish, the Crab Crack dinner featured coleslaw, rolls, brownies for dessert, a bar and 50/50 raffle.

“We start right after New Year’s,” Bayne said of the planning. As event chairman, he’s in charge of ordering the food, getting all the supplies and making sure all goes smoothly.

Early on, Bayne works on pricing with the crab vendor, whose family has supplied the crab to the Tonopah event for more than 40 years.

“He gives me a price, and if the price goes up, he keeps us at the first price,” Bayne said. “If the price goes down, he gives us the better price.”

“The price of crab is going up,” Bayne said. “It’s almost $9 a pound.”

The crab is flown to Las Vegas and then driven to Tonopah. “They are in boxes with gel packs in there to keep it cool, and then we store it at the Elks Lodge,” Bayne said. “It’s within three days fresh. We serve it cold.”

Bayne’s family has longtime ties to the Crab Crack.

For years, Bayne’s father, Steve, served as Crab Crack chairman.

“He still helps out,” Dustin Bayne said, noting that his father’s efforts in recent years includes picking up the crab in Las Vegas. “He’s still very active in this activity.”

Contact reporter David Jacobs at djacobs@tonopahtimes.com