Crab Derby brings crustacean craze (with photos)

Travis Kent gets ready to toss their crab pot into the swift and salty waters of Nehalem Bay at the Jetty Fishery. Joined by his wife and two kids they were keen on participating in this year’s Derby. – Photo by Brian Cameron

For the past 13 years the Jetty Fishery and Kelly’s Brighton Marina have joined forces to offer visitors a completely unique Oregon Coast experience, more succinctly a derby of crazy crustaceans, the annual Crab Derby.

By Brian Cameron

“We started this thing to showcase how lucky we were to be here on Nehalem Bay,” said Jetty Fishery owner Shirley Laviolette. “And also to showcase the great friends and people we’ve met along the way.”
Complete with a litany of prizes like freshly baked cakes, cash, t-shirts, food and even a raffle for an entire aluminum boat all were offered to the competitors in the derby.  The grand prize was $1,000 and $500 for the runner up in the derby.
The event features 26 crab that are fitted with a special tag with a number on them, each number correlates to a certain prize, the crustaceans are then thrown back into the salty waters and if you’re the lucky one to pull the specific Dungeness up in your pot then you win the prize for that critter.
As it turns out no one was lucky enough to pull the first two crab up, which would fetch the grand prize or runner up position, but nearly every other prize was won and the boat was raffled off to one lucky contestant as well.
Families came in over the course of the two days worth of crab related activities, having chances to not only have a great time on a nice weekend but also a shot at winning the $1,000 prize, and if you didn’t you at least had some delicious Dungeness to crack open at the end.
The Crab Derby joins together with The Wildlife Center of the North Coast as well as the Rockaway Lions Club, along with official Budweiser sponsorship, the event has turned more popular every year with more and more folks showing up to try and catch the elusive crustaceans along the bottom of the bay.
“We love it out here,” said Tillamook resident Travis Kent. “It’s a great thing to bring kids of all ages to and hey, who can argue with fresh caught crab anyway?”
Kent and his wife Jen Strohmaier with their two kids, Carter and Ryleigh, took up their spot on the Jetty Fishery dock to try their hands at possibly getting crab without the hassle of a boat.  Other groups were also set up on the dock as well making for a moderately crowded but enjoyable time for all.
The event went into the evening and at the adjacent venue of Kelly’s Brighton Marina guests were treated to live music and even more crab.  Overall no one caught the grand prize or the runner up but Jake Thiemens took home the $200 prize as well as Mason Marsengill got $100 and also won the big boat raffle as well.  Jetty Fishery employee Josh Robello won the title of “King of The Dock” with his homemade cake at the cake auction.  The derby had approximately $1,700 in unclaimed prizes and all the remaining proceeds and prizes went toward the Rockaway Beach Lions Club and The Wildlife Center of the North Coast, each receiving a generous contribution of $3,500 in charitable proceeds.
“It was a nice time,” said Laviolette. “So nice that I was too busy to event get a chance to watch the events.”

Freshly cooked crab, clams and oysters were offered to guests and as the day progressed the job of cooking and prepping the crab grew more and more.
“King of The Dock” Josh Rebello poses with Rockaway Lions member Terry Bowman as the event just begins to heat up just north of Rockaway Beach.
– Photo by Brian Cameron
The event began on Saturday and went until the evening of Sunday, June 3 and 4 and was held at both Kelly’s Brighton Marina and Jetty Fishery. – Photo By Brian Cameron