Cary church pulls out the claws to raise funds

aspecht@newsobserver.comOctober 2, 2013 

  • If you go

    St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will host its annual Lobster Fest from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at 221 Union St., Cary. Lobster prices range from $14 to $22. Online orders are available through Wednesday, and walk-up orders Saturday are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Details: lobsterfestcary.com or email ted@lobsterfestcary.com.

— Parishioners at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church knew their fundraiser had to make a splash.

In 2007, the Cary church needed money for youth ministries and outreach projects. But church members knew a traditional front-lawn fish fry, barbecue, or bake sale was unlikely to do the trick – St. Paul’s is tucked away at the back of a Cary neighborhood, not visible from a main thoroughfare.

So church leaders looked upward.

To Maine.

For lobsters.

What started as a church cookout with a few dozen live lobsters has morphed into a regional lobster festival that draws orders in bulk from across Wake County.

The church expects to sell more than 1,200 lobsters and 800 lobster rolls at its seventh annual Lobster Fest on Oct. 5.

St. Paul’s pays to have lobsters shipped from Maine to its Union Street campus on the morning of the event. The church then sells the 1.5-pound lobsters live, cooked or in a lobster-roll mix.

“We got our feet wet to see how it would work,” the Rev. George Adamik said of the event. “And each year we’ve expanded and expanded and expanded.”

Adamik said he didn’t truly grasp the festival’s popularity until a couple years ago when he went to a medical office in Cary.

“I told the doctor I was a priest. She said, ‘What church?’ I said St. Paul’s,” Adamik recalled. “Then she said, ‘Oh that’s the lobster church.’”

St. Paul’s got the idea for a lobster festival from its sister church in Salter Path in Carteret County. In the Cary festival’s early days, the 55-year-old church made business cards promoting the event and encouraged parishioners to distribute them throughout town.

Adamik and Ted Straub, a church member who has helped organize the event each year, figure the event’s success has something to do with all the families from New England who have moved to the Triangle.

“People love the idea of a lobster roll,” Straub said. “It’s a mixture of lobster meat and mayonnaise-based dressing on rolls from La Farm Bakery in Cary.”

Three years ago, St. Paul’s launched a website – lobsterfestcary.com – to take online orders from customers. The church offers pre-orders but also buys enough lobsters for walk-in customers.

People obviously love some lobster – last year, St. Paul’s raised $11,000 from the fest. The church sold 1,000 lobsters and 650 lobster rolls.

“I think it’s successful because it’s fun,” Adamik said. “There’s no one else around here doing anything like it.”

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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