Ian Banfield, an Oak Bay firefighter, works the grills at Sausage Fest on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at Willows Beach. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)

Ian Banfield, an Oak Bay firefighter, works the grills at Sausage Fest on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at Willows Beach. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)

Oak Bay firefighters find time for Sausage Fest fundraiser

Annual event raising funds this year for Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society

  • Jun. 22, 2019 12:00 a.m.

All 26 firefighters in the Oak Bay Fire Department made time Saturday for the annual Sausage Fest fundraiser.

The members, giving their time to help the Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation raise funds for the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society, fit the event into their day, even if a shift at the fire hall was on their schedule. The members scheduled to work showed up to the Sausage Fest event either before or after their shift, according to Jason Hodge, the firefighter foundation’s executive director.

“You can organize anything, but if you don’t have people to help out, it’s a pipe dream,” Hodge said.

The firefighters worked the grills, sold 50-50 tickets and monitored the entrance, among other duties.

The event at Willows Beach featured bouncy castles and games for the kids, as well as live music, ice cream, beer and, of course, sausages. The meat was provided by Oak Bay businesses, including The Village Butcher, Slater’s Meats, Whole Beast and Red Barn, with a vegan option from The Very Good Butcher in the Public Market at the Hudson.

Lighthouse provided craft beer and cider.

Aaron Smart, who was at the event with his wife and kids, has yet to miss one of the yearly fundraisers, which began four years ago.

“We’ve been coming since its inception,” he said. “My good friend is a firefighter in Oak Bay.”

Hodge, who’s been involved in organizing Sausage Fest for the past four years, said he was happy to see some new faces this year as well as some of the families who’ve made Sausage Fest an annual event for their household.

“It just shows people care about the department and care about their community,” he said.

Cathy Stephenson, secretary with the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society, echoed Hodge’s statements.

“To see people enjoying themselves and at the same time support these two organizations is amazing,” she said.

Stephenson was busy for much of the day selling 50-50 tickets. Her group helped the firefighters foundation with running the fundraiser. She said she was completely surprised when she found out the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society would be receiving proceeds from Sausage Fest.

“It was quite unexpected.”

Read more: Oak Bay Sausagefest 2019 to buoy Sea Rescue program

The Oak Bay Sea Rescue team is a lifeline for the local boating community.

Stephenson said the money will be put toward purchasing better PFDs — personal flotation devices — and equipment vests. The society wants the rescuers to be fit with one piece, that is both a PFD and an equipment vest, as opposed to separate items.

“This is much more streamlined, much less likely to snag on anything,” she said.

—- with files from Travis Paterson

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