When you came into town early this past Sunday afternoon, you might have thought that suddenly our local auto dealerships had an overflow of used vehicles, as the car lot used by Dirkes’ and Mills Motors was filled with cars and trucks. No, the large inventory of iron was not due to a sudden rush of trade-ins – it was because parking was at a premium on the east end of Fairfield as a standing-room-only crowd gathered at the Fairfield Community Hall to honor area first responders.
Wanda Sand, who along with her husband Cal got things rolling on the big event, stopped by the Sun Times Monday morning and said that the estimate on the crowd size was “between 350 and 400.” She added that crowd really grew around 12:30 p.m. as services at Fairfield’s churches came to a close.
Wanda said that the feedback during and after Sunday’s big event was “all positive.” She added, “We are a lucky community to have first responders that are our neighbors and our relatives.” Wanda credited the family atmosphere at the dinner as being due to, in part, the “feeling of fellowship” that resulted from the involvement of the churches.
All of the Fairfield and Teton County first responder organizations were present: Fairfield Ambulance, Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department, Teton County Search and Rescue, Teton County Emergency Medical Services and Teton County Sheriff’s Office.
Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ben Rhodes, speaking the next day, said, “It was great! It is so nice to know that our community supports us. People came up to us and thanks us for what we do for our community.”
Teton County EMS Director Deb Coverdell said of the dinner, “Specatcular! We had great support from the first responders and their families for the dinner and from the public. Deb told the Sun Times that it was “nice to have the community’s churches come together in support” of the dinner.
Fairfield Ambulance Director Leon Beachy was also thankful for the turnout and the show up support from the community.
Leon was caught off-guard Sunday when the heads of the first responder agencies were called to the stage to be recognized and to deliver a few words. EMS Director Deb Coverdell presented Leon with a sign given to him by the Fairfield Ambulance crew that read, “Some people spend their lives wondering if they made a difference. Some don’t have that problem.” The sign was created and donated by Sally Reed and Stephanie Garpstead of Step on Me Signs.
Teton County Search and Rescue head Mike May told the Sun Times, “It was a great event,” and said he was thankful for the people that put the event on and for all the community members that came out in support.
Helping with serving the food were members of the Fairfield Chapter of National Honor Society. 4-H’ers helped with clearing the tables.
A last-minute addition was live music, provided by a foursome of Brian Beerman, Ron Dauwalder, Jim Peterman and Mike Manuel.
Asked if this would become an annual event, Wanda Sands told the Sun Times, “no, but we should do it every once in a while, to remind the community of the importance of our first responders.”
Wanda and Cal wanted to express their “thank you” for everyone who helped make Sunday’s gathering such a success:
We are so thankful to live in such a caring community. How can we begin to thank each and everyone who helped with the Honor/Appreciation Dinner this past Sunday?
It was again another example of the generosity and kindness that folks are fortunate to experience in Fairfield.
Our local churches donated different portions of the meal or assisted financially. Thank you to Fairfield United Church of Christ, Fairfield Mennonite Church, Fairfield Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, New Life Fairfield, Faith Bible Church, St. John’s Catholic Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Grace Lutheran Church and Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Choteau.
The dinner was advertised and reported with professionalism by The Fairfield Sun Times. Thank you, Darryl for your great coverage and the donated posters.
Thank you to the Community Hall Board and Fairfield Lions club who donated the use of their facility and equipment without charge.
The event ran smoothly because of the emcee for the day, Ross Fitzgerald and the talented group of local musicians consisting of Brian Beerman, Ron Dauwalder, Jim Peterman and Brian Kirkhorn, who entertained the crowd that gathered to show their appreciation to our First Responders.
Kevin McWilliams and Ray Schmidt - you two were awesome and your cooking skills shined! Thank you.
We know we have some of the best kids in Fairfield, so thank you to the 4-H’ers and the Fairfield Honor Society students who assisted with numerous tasks. You were so helpful.
We would like to thank the Boe Foundation for their financial contribution to help cover the costs of the hot dogs and hamburgers.
As you can see the list of volunteers is lengthy. We knew if we tried to name each of you personally who helped with this dinner, we would surely miss somebody. So, for all of those individuals who helped to make the dinner such a success, “thank you!”
We thank the “TEAM” who met from day one: Jessie Obrecht, Justin Cleveland, Amanda Brown, Mike Manuel, Tammy Comer, Phil Maxwell, Nada Leversee, Kevin McWilliams “You’re the Best” and it’s because of you and your help that we had and an awesome afternoon.
Thank you to everyone for attending and allowing us the opportunity to say thank you to some of the most caring, unselfish, dedicated volunteers we know our First Responders.