Fire department’s Oyster Feed Dinner and Dance has become hottest ticket in Osoyoos

By on April 2, 2014
Chris Parker, a veteran volunteer firefighter with the Osoyoos Volunteer Fire Department and member of the organizing committee for the annual Osoyoos Oyster Feed Dinner and Dance, is looking forward to another successful fundraiser for the 2014 event, which takes place Saturday evening at the Osoyoos International Curling Club. As usual, the event sold out in a matter of days. (Keith Lacey photo)

Chris Parker, a veteran volunteer firefighter with the Osoyoos Volunteer Fire Department and member of the organizing committee for the annual Osoyoos Oyster Feed Dinner and Dance, is looking forward to another successful fundraiser for the 2014 event, which takes place Saturday evening at the Osoyoos International Curling Club. As usual, the event sold out in a matter of days. (Keith Lacey photo)

There isn’t another event in Osoyoos like it.

And that makes the more than two dozen members of the Osoyoos Volunteer Fire Department very proud.

It will be a very busy week for the 27 members of the local volunteer fire department as they prepare to host 450 hungry guests at the 11th annual Osoyoos Oyster Feed Dinner and Dance, which takes place Saturday evening at the Osoyoos International Curling Club.

This event has raised roughly $150,000 for regional hospitals and other worthy causes over the past decade.

This event has become so popular that 90 per cent of the tickets are sold the day they go on sale in February and every single ticket is sold within a few days, said Chris Parker, who heads up the organizing committee for this year’s event.

“It’s probably the hardest ticket in town to get,” said Parker proudly. “It’s a really fun event for a great cause and people from the community want to be part of it.

“There’s always a fight to get tickets and we could easily sell a lot more, but we have to limit the number of people we can handle at the event.”

The Oyster feed has come a long way from where it started as a “fireman’s only event” where volunteer firefighters held their own internal fundraising event for several years, said Parker.

“This started off as a private fireman’s dinner, where we invited all the local volunteer firefighters as well as local RCMP and emergency services personnel,” he said.

Organizers with the volunteer fire department thought it would be a good idea to expand the event and invite the community and try and raise money for worthy causes and things took off 11 years ago with the first community event being held as the old Elks Hall, where the current Osoyoos Baptist Church is located, said Parker.

“We held it at the Elks Hall for a few years, but we needed more room so we moved to the Sonora Centre for a few years and this will be our fourth year at the curling rink,” he said.

For the past several years, funds raised from the Oyster Feed Dinner and Dance have been split between the South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver, Penticton Regional Hospital and the burn unit at Vancouver General Hospital, said Parker.

“For the past few years, we’ve given $5,000 to the burn unit in Vancouver, another $5,000 to Penticton Regional Hospital and then we get requests from the hospital in Oliver about what piece of equipment they might need and go from there.

“A couple of years ago, they needed a new piece of equipment in Oliver and it cost $12,000 and we provided all the funding for that.”

For the past couple of years, one graduate from Osoyoos Secondary School also receives a $2,000 bursary from proceeds from this event, said Parker.

Ticket sales at $50 apiece raise most of the funds, but a big silent auction also generates significant money, said Parker.

“We have great community support for our silent auction with dozens of local businesses and businesses from across the South Okanagan donating items,” he said. “We have amazing community support for this event.”

Almost every one of the 27 volunteer firefighters gets involved in organizing the event and a group of seven will have a very busy day on Saturday preparing food, said Parker.

Besides fresh oysters, the meal will include prime rib, potato salad, shrimp and mixed vegetables.

The local band Room to Dance will also perform throughout the evening.

It takes a lot of time and effort to feed and entertain 450 guests, but the volunteer firefighters take great pride in making the Osoyoos Oyster Feed Dinner and Dance arguably the most anticipated social event of the year in our community, said Parker.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s obviously well worth it,” he said. “The guys take a lot of pride in putting on a good event and we’re thrilled that so many people want to participate in such a fun event that raises a lot of money for very good causes. It’s always a good time for everyone.”

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

 

 

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