IT MAY HAVE BEEN THE BEST "CRABARET" ever. The House of Ruth fundraiser at Gertrude's at the Baltimore Museum of Art offered a variety of crabby delights. There were food stations: one for crab cakes, another for sushi, another for Asian crab stir-fry. Then, there were a variety of wines for tasting. All of this made for a great summer's evening, but what really put this year's soiree over the top was the weather -- unusually low humidity and comfortable temperatures were the talk of the night.

"We were white-knuckling it all week," said Vicki Deyesu, who, with party co-chair John Yuhanick couldn't get over Mother Nature's kindness.

"This is absolutely fabulous," said Louise Miller, Towson University's arts and culture director of marketing.

"This just gets better every year," added her husband, Gabe Purviance, a Coldwell Banker realtor.

"Awesome, simply awesome," was how Venable partner Carey Deeley summed it up, as he, wife Karen Deeley and sister Muffy Deeley nibbled on crab cakes.

The only thing to heat up the night was a zydeco band, adding to the evening's positive energy for guests such as Cindy Conklin and Bob Merbler, Susan and Charlie Offutt, Pam Ward, Lucy Rogers, Olachi Opara, Jessica Winicki, Paul Winicki, Amy Newhall, Joyce Ann Burman and Jon Kaplan.

In fact, as Gertrude's owner / chef John Shields noted, there may have been only one group not enjoying the party.

"The crabs are a little nervous, but everyone else is doing okay," he said with a laugh.

ONLINE Sloane Brown takes you to the party with a calendar of upcoming events and video reports of social events as well as a report on the Taste of the Nation party at / scene

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