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Ashland crab feed canceled due to coronavirus concerns

ASHLAND — An annual crab feed fundraiser by Rotary Club of Ashland Lithia Springs has been canceled due to mounting concerns about COVID-19.

Ashland Police Chief Tighe O'Meara, who serves as the event chair, said the 24th annual event scheduled for Saturday, March 14, at Southern Oregon University's Stevenson Union will not be rescheduled. More than 300 guests were expected to attend, and more than 200 items were set to be auctioned off.

"It's just not happening this year," O'Meara said. "But we are trying to figure out if we can still have an auction in some form. There's more info to come, but the event itself is done. It's just not happening in 2020."

O'Meara said the event is the main fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Ashland Lithia Springs. Inthe past 23 years, the event has raised more than $800,000.

"One hundred percent of the earnings go toward youth-based endeavors like scholarships. Middle school kids get to go to a camp or a summer program that normally they wouldn't be able to," O'Meara said. "Graduating seniors from high school get to go to a vocational program they want to go to get their career started. All sorts of good stuff."

Anyone who purchased a ticket or was an event sponsor is entitled to a refund, O'Meara said.

"We are still trying to figure out the best mechanism for accomplishing that," he said. "There's going to be another meeting later on in the week, and we're going to finalize our plans to get money back to people that bought a ticket or bought a sponsorship."

Over the weekend, Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. As of Monday, 14 state residents had tested positive for the virus, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Four of those were in Southern Oregon, with two in Jackson County, one in Douglas County, and one in Klamath County, the agency reported. More than 200 others are considered "persons under monitoring," or individuals who do not have symptoms of the virus but may have been exposed to it through close contact with a confirmed case, OHA said.

The emergency declaration and Jackson County cases were both key factors that went into the Crabfest's cancellation, O'Meara said. Last week, ACCESS announced it would postpone its Senior Fair event as a precaution. Originally set for Tuesday, March 17, it's been rescheduled for the end of April.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.

Ashland crab feed fundraiser canceled due to coronavirus concerns