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The least crabby person after Saturday’s Crab Fest was the one who runs a reading program at the elementary school.

“The Calistoga community truly supports generating a love of reading for pleasure and the importance of book ownership for our children. This was so apparent on Saturday night,” said Trudy Bouligny. “Tears of joy as I saw the paddles popping up all over the room — we can cover three years of three books a year for over 500 children. Wow and wow, again.”

Bouligny is a member of Soroptimist International of Calistoga and oversees the Read Aloud Partners Program (RAPP), which passes out new books to all elementary school students three times a year, and places adults in every classroom to read aloud to children once a week.

The Soroptimist International of Calistoga annual Crab Fest designated this year’s Fund-a-Need segment of the event, which included live and silent auction items, to RAPP. It brought in $17,500, a 70 percent increase over last year’s take, said Charlene Peters, spokesperson for Soroptimists, and marketing and public relations manager of Visit Calistoga.

“We have grossed more than last year, approximately $114,000. And $17,500 for RAPP is beyond our wildest dreams,” said Nushi Safinya, president of Soroptimist International of Calistoga.

The Soroptimist’s also support myriad other local programs including school scholarships and No Drugs Down the Drain.

This year’s live auction was conducted by Leslie Sbrocco, wine expert, award-winning author, TV personality and host of KQED’s “Check Please Bay Area.” In spite of cracked ribs, Sbrocco urged on bidders.

“It was a special night and I was so proud to be part of it. The energy and generosity of the crowd was inspiring as paddle after paddle was raised in support of education in Calistoga,” Sbrocco said.

The top-selling lot was Sbrocco’s “Check Please Set Visit” at a total of $6,500, after she doubled the lot on stage. Coming in at number two was a trip to France for $4,750.

Peters said there is still one lot open for bidding; a spot at the table with Herb Salinger for dinner at Calistoga Inn on May 30, starting at 6 p.m. This will be his ninth time holding the event and tickets can be purchased for $80 online at

Sbrocco got bidders to spend $28,600 in the live auction, a 27 percent increase over last year. Desserts at the dessert table got a sweet 89 percent boost over last year selling $2,345 worth of goodies.


The Weekly Calistogan Editor