Rist Canyon Mountain Festival in jeopardy

The annual Mountain Festival and Fine Art Auction, hosted for two decades by the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, needs some serious and immediate help. Since October of last year, the RCVFD has been seeking volunteers for four open chair positions: firehouse silent auction; book sale; car show; and off-stage entertainment. But to date, no one has stepped forward for any of these positions.

It gets worse. Just recently, the RCVFD Board learned that another position is open – Festival Coordinator – the overall organizer and scheduler of the popular event. Without a Festival Coordinator, and with four vacant chairs, the RCVFD is struggling with how to go forward with the Mountain Festival this year.

“Five open positions will make it very difficult to hold the festival,” said Mike Thompson, RCVFD board president. “These positions are critical to raise the funds needed to support the fire department. The festival is well-known in the Northern Colorado area, but without these activities, the festival just won’t provide the whole experience that is needed to be a success.”

Proceeds from the summer festival are vital for the RCVFD to meet its annual operations budget. Rist Canyon VFD is 100 percent donation-based, receiving no funds whatsoever from taxes. All personnel, first responders, and firefighters are volunteers, on call 24 hours/day. The firefighters and medical responders also volunteer their time when they attend training classes to keep their skills up-to-date.

“The value of the festival and art auction cannot be overstated,” said RCVFD Fire Chief Bob Gann. “While donations cover most of our fixed operating costs — insurance, fuel, electricity — they don’t come close to paying for more capital costs or improvements. We have to maintain a modern, capable fleet. For example, we need to budget for a replacement engine every two or three years. Those engines run from $120,000 to $250,000. The festival and art auction are a must if RCVFD is to remain healthy year to year.”

Thompson added, “The only qualifications needed (for a volunteer) are enthusiasm, dedication and the desire to make a difference for a very important cause for our community. The festival has been successful for so many years; we need to keep it that way.”

Volunteers for the Festival Coordinator or chair positions will receive guidance and training from either the prior volunteer in that position or from the RCVFD Board. The Board is currently formulating the job descriptions, and Board members will be available at any time to answer questions or provide direction. Family members and/or friends are welcome to step up as co-chairs, too.

Gann put it this way: “Get in the truck with us. We usually focus on the emergency responders and firefighters that get in the truck, but RCVFD is a community organization. Whenever someone donates or volunteers, they have made it possible for us to provide important services. Volunteering for the Mountain Festival is a way — a fun way – to be ‘in the truck’ with the firefighters and first responders on every single call.”

To learn more about the volunteer opportunities, please send an e-mail to rcvfdboard@rcfvd.org and someone will contact you promptly.

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