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Winners of the 5K Fun Run at 2019 Wildfire Hootenanny - photo George Lurie

Hootenanny Benefits Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Charlie Capuchino rides the bull while his buddies wait for their turn

COARSEGOLD — A “fun run” and lively Cornhole competition were just two of the highlights of this weekend’s “Hootenanny” at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds.

The second-annual event is a fundraiser for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF).

Event organizer Erin Capuchino said this year’s hootenanny was expected to draw more than 200 attendees.

Ken Westbrook from Firebaugh practices his toss for the Cornhole competition while buddy Rob Holland of Dos Palos waits

Last year’s inaugural event raised about $7,000 for WFF. Capuchino said the goal this year is “at least $10,000.”

“The foundation is just amazing and really deserves this support,” Capuchino said. “They are based in Idaho but it’s actually an international group. They help firefighters everywhere, even in places like South America or Australia.”

This year’s hootenanny drew many from the local firefighting and first responder communities. Capuchino said the event was “a great opportunity for everyone to share experiences and ‘kumbaya’ while not on the fire line.”

Capuchino’s husband Michael works for the Forest Service, which, along with Cal Fire was well represented at Saturday’s event.

Xavier and Violette Gonzalez check out the Cal Fire engine on display at Saturday’s fundraiser for the WFF at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds

Kittina Simmons, a captain with Cal Fire, spent the day providing tours of one of the department’s fire engines. “We’re still on call so I’ve got to keep one ear on the radio,” Simmons said. “If we get a call, we’re going to have to leave.”

Capuchino said she decided to start the event several years ago when she was working at The Pines.

“The Forest Service was doing a training at the hotel and I thought ‘I want to do something like this for the [WFF] foundation.'”

Volunteers from YHS at Wildfire Hootenanny

The hootenanny was staffed, in part, by student volunteers from Yosemite High’s cross country and water polo teams and Minarets High’s Key Club.

The day-long event included a Cornhole bean bag tossing tournament, 5K fun run, beard and mustache contest, raffle and kids zone.

Food trucks fed attendees during the day and a catered dinner was provided Saturday night by The Wild Fig.

The event, according to Capuchino, is set up to give participants “an inside look” at the fire camps set up during large campaign fires.

“We’re trying to create a ‘mini-city’ experience for the community, something people wouldn’t get a chance to see without being out on the fireline.”

The WFF supports wildland firefighters by providing financial assistance, PTSD support and other services to help to the families of fallen and injured wildland firefighters across the country.

The foundation also maintains the National Wildland Firefighter Monument in Boise.

(Photos by George Lurie)

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