July 5, 2012
Mission VFD picnic and auction raises nearly $30,000
By B.L. Azure
Tony Incashola was the highest bidder on a volleyball signed by the University of Montana volleyball team. Three of the young UM volleyball players were on hand for a Kodak moment with Incashola. (B.L. Azure photo)
ST. IGNATIUS — The annual Mission Volunteer Fire Department picnic and auction just became street legal as it celebrated its 18th year as the VFD’s major fundraising event. However, the grown up event still has a young at heart good time feel about it as folks including many children from the area came to the Good Old Days Park to rub shoulders with the locals and have fun while supporting a good cause.
The weather seemed ominous at times as darkened skies shed a few drops of misting rains at irregular intervals. But whenever the clouds looked like they were ready for a big dump they parted to reveal the bright sun and blue sky, usually a well-viewed site by this time of year but not so this year. This summer is looking like it will be one of those that got away without sharing its true nature.
The University of Montana Grizzly cheerleaders were painting facial tattoos on the youngsters at the Mission VFD picnic and auction recently. (B.L. Azure photo)
The children had plenty of activities available to keep them busy with carnival games, air inflated water slide and air trampoline, face painting, climbing on fire engines, interacting with University of Montana athletes and cheerleaders, and going for rides in a horse drawn wagon.
The University of Montana sports programs are always a big part of the picnic and auction, and related activities. Members of the Lady Griz Volleyball team were on hand for some hands-on volleyball with young ladies and photo ops. Several Grizzly cheerleaders applied the face paint washable tattoos to those adventurous enough to change their worldly appearance for few hours. Grizzly volleyball and football players helped with the auction.
Charlie Morigeau and Jackie Spidel are always on hand to chip in at the annual Mission VFD picnic and auction. (B.L. Azure photo)
There was nearly 100 items available via the silent auction and more than twice that many items available at the live auction. The live auction items included firewood, wood mulch, fence rails and posts, railway ties, yard furniture, barbecues, painted bison skulls, sports memorabilia, freezer with beef, power and hand tools, various arts and crafts items, construction stone, and many other items.
The auction items were donated by local and area businesses as well as by local and area individuals.
According to Lake County Bank President Fred Gariepy, the VFD fundraiser reaped more than $27,000 for the department. Through the years the Mission VFD has used to purchase big ticket items like fire engines and tankers, and smaller big ticket items like firefighter equipment including uniforms and self-contained breathing apparatus, among other things.
The barbecue fare was nearly as comprehensive as ever.
“No bison this year,” said Mission VFD firefighter Joseph Mitchell. “It’s too expensive.”
The University of Montana Grizzly football team members came aboard to help auctioneer Steve Allard with the display of auction items. (B.L. Azure photo)
However, there was plenty of barbecued beef, pork and turkey with the accustomed sides available at a reasonable price.
Now that the 18th annual Mission VFD picnic and auction is in the books, Mitchell said it is time to get planning for the 19th annual event.
“This has grown to be such a big event that we start talking about the next one while preparing the food for this one,” Mitchell said. “We don’t really take time off to pat our backs on a job well done. We use that time to think about how the next one will be bigger and better then we get going on making sure that happens.”
Mitchell said that despite not the best of economic times for area people and businesses they still find ways to dig down and support the VFD. That’s good because the VFD will be there for them in their times of need.
Every now and then the clouds pulled back to reveal the big blue Montana sky and youthful smiles at the Mission VFD picnic and auction. (B.L. Azure photo)
The local VFDs are not only important to their local communities but to the overall firefighting effort on the Flathead Indian Reservation and the connected counties. Together the various VFDs and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes firefighting personnel provide the reservation and counties with top-notch wildland and residential fire protection.
The Mission VFD has been busy with a series of suspicious fires in or near St. Ignatius this spring and summer. The fires include the former Beckwith Mercantile, a cabin on Airport Road and a vacant trailer house in St. Ignatius.
A suspect has been questioned then arrested and charged with felony arson for the June 5 cabin fire on Airport Road. Nineteen-year-old St. Ignatius resident Chase Kuntz was arrested by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Law enforcement officials view Kuntz as a person of interest in the other suspicious fires.