The Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap are organizing a fundraiser event for the Cranbrook Community Forest Society who found themselves with a financial shortfall. Paul Rodgers photo.

Fire Hall organizes fundraiser for Cranbrook Community Forest Society

Paul Rodgers

The Cranbrook Community Forest Society (CCFS) has found itself with a $2,100 shortfall after funds unexpectedly didn’t come through for a project they had already completed.

The society put out a post to their Facebook followers on Jan. 2 seeking support, and the Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap, among many others, stepped up to the plate. On Thursday, Jan. 23, the downtown bar and restaurant will be hosting a Locals-Only Tap Takeover to raise money to support the CCFS.

“I think that the CCF is one of the most important things to the qualities of being from Cranbrook that I identify with,” said Fire Hall owner Jesse Roberts. “I love the Kootenay flavour that Cranbrook has and is developing and to me that comes a lot from the hiking, the mountain biking, the lakes, getting out and walking your dog, playing a round of disc golf, showing your kids how amazing the outdoors can be and doing it all so close to our homes.”

Roberts saw the Facebook post and quickly suggested the idea, recruiting Overtime Brewing from Kimberley, Fernie Brewing company, and, for the first time ever at the Fire Hall, Fisher Peak Brewing for the event.

They will each provide a couple of kegs of beer and have generously offered them for free, meaning that all beer sales will go directly to the CCFS. This is also the first time that one of the Fire Hall’s tap takeover nights will be a ticketed event, with entry costing $25 that will also all be donated to the CCFS.

“The fact that we have access to a place like this is pretty extraordinary and I think it really ought to be protected and the people that take care of it really need to be supported, so that’s where our inspiration came from.”

Part of the reason for the financial shortfall is that the CCFS has switched over to lifetime membership fees, and there are a lot of costs the organization faces each year to keep the forest usable that the average user may not even realize.

“We always need to apply for extra funds to make things happen out there,” explained CCFS President Joseph Cross. “For example, one of the things we’re looking for is about $1,000 — we need to replace the maps that are throughout the Community Forest on the big billboards that we have, they’re out of date and there’s new trails being created and we’re always working at that.”

They also have security open and lock the gates every day and make sure the forest is empty at an annual cost of about $3,000. The doggie bags you help yourself to when you forget to bring your own? That’s another $700 a year.

“So it’s little things like that, and then any other ongoing projects to enhance the CF whether it’s trail building or whatever,” said Cross. “We always end up having to apply for grants for these things, so even if we had standard yearly membership fees, it wouldn’t cover the things that we need to do each year, and that’s just the basic stuff for the most part.”

Cross said he thinks Roberts’ idea for the event is a “terrific idea.”

“A lot of the users of the CF go down there after their ventures whether they’re cycling or whatever they might do. We had put it out to ask our membership if they wouldn’t mind making a donation to help out, just to get things rolling and Jesse must have got wind of it and so this was his initiative which we really appreciate. It was a bit of a surprise for us.”

“Myself and my business partner and my bar manager and the chef, we all love the Community Forest,” Roberts said. “We all mountain bike, we all utilize the awesomeness that is the CCF.”

The $25 entry fee that goes directly to the CCFS gives you access to a decadent six-dish menu designed by head chef Doug Wagner to specifically pair with each of the six beers from the three breweries.

“We’re really excited to be pouring Fisher Peak beer for the first time ever, so that’s a collaboration that Cranbrook may have been waiting for for quite a while.”

Fisher Peak is bringing out the big guns for this momentous occasion — one of their two beers they’re bringing is their bourbon-barrel-aged Scotch ale, which won gold at the Canadian Beer Awards last year, which allowed them to enter into the Worlds this year.

There will also be tonne of prizes being dished out over the course of the night with beer and Community-Forest-related trivia

“We’ve asked a lot of local businesses if they would like to participate by donating prizes and they’ve really stepped up,” Roberts said, adding the event will have a host, they will have their PA system running and creating an all-together fun evening.

He added that he considered giving something away with the $25 entry fee, but decided that that would lessen the donation and that the Fire Hall’s patrons and the supporters of the CCFS — oftentimes the same demographic — will be happy to step up and make a big difference.

“I’m sort of optimistically hoping that we can write them a cheque for three grand at the end of the night,” he said, “that’s sort of what my perfect scenario looks like.”

Roberts recommended making reservations or even buying tickets ahead of time. You can do so by stopping in to the Fire Hall at 37 11 Ave S, or calling 778-520-0911

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