Rist volunteer firefighters on the auction block during Mountain Festival

So exactly what is it about men in uniform?

To find out, come to the Mountain Festival in Rist Canyon, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31.

Three volunteer — and single — firefighters will be “auctioned off” for a dinner out, with local restaurants covering the meal check. The firemen are part of the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, whose annual Mountain Festival and Richard Schmid Fine Art Auction is the department’s primary fund-raising event.

By Leisa Taylor

On the auction block are Luke Whitson, 26, an assistant chief who also serves as youth pastor for Stove Prairie Community Church; Randy Starkey, a 33-year veteran with RCVFD, was one of the eight firefighters who lost their homes in the High Park Fire in June 2012; and Jesse Ceplecha is a 33-year-old Wildland Firefighter II.

“I thought this would be fun for the live auction,” said Deb Pedersen, a resident and Rist Canyon volunteer. “These guys were great to step up and help the fire department raise money.”

Canino’s Italian Restaurant in Fort Collins is sponsoring Firefighter Whitson and whomever bids the highest for dinner with him. The Moot House Restaurant & Pub is sponsoring Starkey, and the Fish Restaurant will host Ceplecha and his lucky bidder.

The three firefighters will be auctioned off during the Richard Schmid Fine Art Auction held in conjunction with the Mountain Festival. Now in its 19th year, the Fine Art Auction features local and international artists under the big top tent. This year, there are more than 50 submissions. Both events are held across from Rist Canyon Fire Station No. 1, 11835 Rist Canyon Road.

Funds raised from the Mountain Festival are vital for the growth and effectiveness of the RCVFD. The department is 100 percent donation funded, receiving no taxes. All personnel and firefighters are volunteers, and they are on call 24 hours a day. The firefighters and medical responders also volunteer their time when they attend monthly training classes to keep their skills up to date.

“The Mountain Festival is very important for our financial operations,” RCVFD Board president Mike Thompson said. “The festival revenues help supplement the donations we receive so we have enough to fund our yearly
operations costs. It also helps with new capital expenses to replace aging
equipment and vehicles.”

The Mountain Festival offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. In addition to the live art auction, the Sunday event will feature a huge and well-stocked book tent, an Old Fashioned Bake Sale, the Firehouse Silent Auction, eclectic and varied vendors at the ever-popular Mountain Craft Market, children’s activities, fantastic food and great bands and entertainment.

Both admission and parking are free.

“Planning for the festival is nearly a year-round event,” Thompson said. “A lot of work is done behind the scenes to bring everything together for this big occasion. People attend to buy excellent art, spend the day listening to music on a beautiful mountain meadow, watch performers such as belly dancers, browse the many craft booths, and enjoy the great food.”

Fire Chief Bob Gann said festival revenues will also be used in the
rebuilding of Station No. 4, which burned in the High Park Fire. “That is probably our biggest effort,” he said. “And then once Station 4 is built, we will need to buy equipment. The engine at that station is now 22 years old. Every time we buy a new truck or piece of equipment, the festival essentially pays for it.”

For live auction times and more Festival information, visit rcvfd.org.

Donations can be sent to RCVFD-Treasurer, P.O. Box 2, Bellvue, CO 80512. Donations can also be made via PayPal.

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