COARSEGOLD — Come out and support the people who watch out for you, at the Wildland Firefighter Hootenanny the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, Apr. 14 – 15, at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds. Admission is free; some activities and meals come with a fee — this is a fundraising event. Gates and the camping area will open Saturday at 9 a.m. with festivities beginning at 10. In addition to exciting events and musical entertainment throughout the weekend, guests will enjoy a special presentation by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
Saturday’s special events include an official Corn Hole Tournament hosted by the California Corn Hole Association. Cornhole a game growing quickly in popularity, that can be found in many backyards, at tailgates, weddings, and bars. Small bags filled with dried corn are tossed at a target consisting of an inclined wooden platform with a hole at one end.
Come show off your skills at the Wildland Fire Cornhole Tournament. Hosted by the Californian Cornhole Association, the winning team gets 50 percent of the entry fees and the other 50 percent goes to The Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Check in for the Corn Hole Tournament begins at 9, with the competition beginning at 11.
Facial hair and weeks on the line go hand in hand, so firefighters are invited to step out and show off some scruff. On the day of the event, organizers may split a category to accommodate a large pool of contestants. Categories may include mustache, goatee, and beard. ‘Stache & Beard Competition is graciously hosted by the Fresno Beard and Mustache Club. Participants may sign up on Saturday or sign up early here.
Every year the spouses are left to tend to the home, kids and life. Sometimes due to the location they may not hear from their loves for weeks at a time. They can take anything thrown at them and stay up nights worrying.
Firefighters are encouraged to take a moment to nominate their spouse for the Wildland Firefighter Hootenanny Fire Spouse of the Year. Organizers say all nominations will be reviewed by a panel featuring a variety of firefighter wives from different agencies, in different stages of life.
The top three contenders will be honored during dinner at the Hootenanny. Dinner purchase is not necessary, but attendance at the dinner is required to participate.
Hootenanny attendees will also be able to support the Wildland Firefighters Foundation by bidding on a variety of silent auction items. A WFF raffle for firefighters, offering prizes of tools, gear and other items will be held on Saturday.
Vendors, food trucks and a beer garden will be available, and a special fundraising dinner will be catered by Smokehouse 41 on Saturday evening. A number of groups will perform music throughout the weekend, headlined by Rocky Rock on Saturday, taking the stage at 8 p.m.
A family fire camp is one of the unique offerings of the weekend. Because wildland firefighters work wherever these fires may erupt, the men and women work hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away from home. Local fire contractors will provide equipment and other materials that will give families an understanding and the feel of the “mini-cities” that serve and accommodate firefighters during the course of a major fire.
Sunday events begin at 8 a.m. with the 5K Mop Up Fun Run, organized by Yosemite High School student and cross country runner Gabi Stegge who chose the run as her senior project, as well as a way to support wildland firefighters.
“I am helping organize the Fun Run portion of the Hootenanny by designing the race course, helping out with the medals, and trying to spread the word around throughout the community,” Gabi explains. “For the course, there are three loops and all three are the exact same, so it would be very hard to get lost. Each loop is a little over a mile and is mostly flat, on a dirt road. Also we are giving out finishers medals for the first 200 finishers.”
Gabi says her commitment to the cause comes from wanting to help people affected by recent fires in the area, especially those who risk their lives in order to save lives and belongings. She’s busy making sure that everything is completed in time, and that she’s doing everything correctly.
“The best part is completing little things along the way, and checking things off of my to-do list. I feel quite nervous about this project but I am very excited and appreciative towards the people who have made it easier along the way.”
Runners will receive Mop Up 5K t-shirts and first through third prizes will be awarded in each age division. Registration for the run begins at 7 a.m.
Also on Sunday will be an 8 a.m. pancake breakfast to be followed by the Wildland Firefighter Challenge, pitting five-member teams representing different agencies against each other as they take a comedic turn while demonstrating their professional firefighting skills with speed and dexterity.
Hootenanny proceeds will benefit the Wildland Firefighters Foundation which honors past, present and future wildland firefighters by providing financial assistance, PTSD support services and other help to the families of fallen and injured wildland firefighters across the country. The WFF maintains the National Wildland Firefighter Monument and educates the public about wildland fires and the men and women who give their lives to protect lands impacted by wildfire.
Full Hootenanny details are available at http://wffhoot.com.