Volunteer firefighters play host to annual festival
The 14 firefighters that tend to blazes, emergency calls, traffic accidents and other incidences on behalf of the Estaire-Wanup Volunteer Fire Brigade are able to perform their duties because of what they do in their spare time.
If it wasn't for fundraising efforts spearheaded by the firefighters and the firefighters' auxiliary, the willing and able bodies of the crew would not have the resources to fulfil their roles.
Every year, the crew takes about 30 emergency calls in the span of five-and-a-half townships, north and east to Sudbury, south to French River, along Highway 69 and down the Killarney road. They even assist career firefighters within the city limits in the Dill Township.
The brigade stores a tanker truck and pumper rescue truck in a recently constructed firehall, built courtesy of funds the volunteers raised themselves, mostly by the volunteers themselves.
“It's a work in progress,” Brigade Chief Gord Hall said.
The facility has been in use since May 2011, but is not yet complete.
Because the brigade services a region with no municipal government, they receive no financial help. Hall is the acting chair of a committee that represents 50 other fire departments in northern Ontario who are in the same boat. His position is to advocate for the troops, seeking ways for them to receive funding.
Until government steps in, the Estaire-Wanup troupe is continuing to finance their endeavours themselves.
One of the biggest fundraisers the firefighters rely on is the annual Music on the Grass festival. Now in its sixth year, the musical event is one way the group is able to support itself. Since its inception, the festival has brought in about $12,000, with the number of people attending growing each year. It's held at 300 Elbow Lake Rd.
Held right on the property owned by Hall and his wife, Liz, the festival showcases a bit of everything in terms of music.
The “incredible audience” is treated to country, bluegrass, roots, folk and rock music played on a stage set in the “natural amphitheatre” the Halls have in their backyard.
This year, the lineup includes the likes of Dan Lalonde, Side B, Algoma Wildflowers, Katz, Forster Family, Waste Band, Bend of Elbow, Kevin Closs and the Ducharme Family.
Music begins at noon on Aug. 18 and runs until dark. Many of the artists will return Aug. 19 to play gospel tunes from 1 to 4 p.m.
Professional sound makes the experience a good one, which audiences appreciate. Never has the family experienced any issues with supporters.
“They understand it's our own home,” Liz said.
Tickets to Music on the Grass are now available. For more information, visit musiconthegrass.com.
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