Vittles and Fiddles festival still on

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Vidalia Fire Department’s Vittles and Fiddles festival almost became the festival that wasn’t.

The department’s fifth annual fundraiser appeared to be in jeopardy because the department didn’t want to leave the station undermanned, Assistant Fire Chief Ben Adams said.

“We just don’t have enough people to pull from,” Adams said.

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Fire Chief Jack Langston took away any ambiguity about the matter.

“It’s going to happen,” Langston said. “We’re going to do it.”

The VFD hosts the yearly bluegrass festival and gumbo cook-off to raise money for its training facility on Logan Sewell Road.

The training facility will have a live burn building and a drill tower for high angle rescue training. It will host various other training courses, including hazardous material control.

Department officials and members met Tuesday night to begin planning the event, set for April 13 and 14.

Concerns arose because this year there appeared to be scheduling conflicts within the department.

During the festival, five firefighters stay at the station in case of a call. The rest of the crew mans the festival.

“If two guys need off that day, that only leaves eight to work the festival,” Adams said. “This is completely voluntary.”

“In the past, we’ve tried to get the guys from Natchez emergency services involved, but that leads to the same problem,” Adams said. “If you’ve got 10 of their guys at the gumbo cook-off, that’s 10 guys who aren’t available for emergency response.”

Public participation is also in question.

“The first three years we did [Fiddles and Vittles], public participation was really good,” Adams said. “Last year, though, we only had about half of the previous participation.”