By Bill Schlichting

Pilot staff writer

No one who had lunch at the 24th annual Winchuck Volunteers Chicken Barbecue and Auction went away with an empty stomach.

More than 300 people were on hand Sunday afternoon to devour a huge lunch consisting of a quarter of a chicken, coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob, a dinner roll and lemonade. For a little extra money, soft drinks, beer, cakes and pies were available.

While enjoying the meal, people were treated to music by various local musicians.

Prior to serving the food, people were able to browse tables and make bids on items donated to the Winchuck Volunteers, an organization that helps fund the Winchuck Fire Department, four miles up Winchuck River Road.

The silent auction included many small items, furniture, a TV and a refrigerator. More than $800 was collected from the event, said Tom Taylor, organization treasurer.

Another $600 was raised offering restaurant packages, Taylor said. Local restaurants provided dinner offers that people were able to bid on.

However, the crowning jewel of the fundraising event was the live auction, which garnered $2,766, Taylor said. Usually it's the barbecue itself that brings in the most cash, but this year it was topped by the auction. The barbecue raised $2,725.

Crescent City Auctioneer Jule Simonson kept the bidding lively. A few items sold for more than retail. Many of the items auctioned were donated by local merchants. All businesses that provided goods or services were acknowledged.

Other fundraising efforts included taking in $570 from the sale of baked goods and another $116 raised from the sale of remaining chicken pieces, which were sold for $1 each. All together, the event raised more than $8,000. After all expenses are paid, most of the remaining funds will benefit the upkeep of the fire hall.

The biggest expense facing the fire district is replacing a galvanized steel culvert under the property. The fire hall was built over a seasonal creek. The steel pipe, which are rusting, were installed to channel the creek underground.

Taylor said the ground is sinking where the culvert is giving way. Plastic pipes have been purchased and are already stacked beside the fire hall ready to be installed. It is estimated the cost of the job will be $10,000.

Not only is the Winchuck Fire Department a big winner from the annual barbecue and auction, but organizations who help make the event possible benefited from the event.

Helping at the event were the 4-H Rail Riders, Boy Scouts, Brookings-Harbor High School (BHHS) Bruin Boosters and the BHHS Softball Team. Each group was awarded $250.

In addition, the Winchuck Volunteers provides two $1,000 scholarships annually.

Among other things, when tax revenues didn't cover the whole price of a new fire truck, the volunteer group came up with the difference, Taylor said.

This year the volunteers received an added bonus. Members of Coos Forest Protective Association inspected the grounds before the event and determined the tall grass in the field next to the fire hall posed a potential fire hazard.

Rather than just pointing it out, the firefighters mowed the field, providing additional parking for the event. They also helped direct traffic.

They only thing they asked for was a chicken dinner for their efforts, Taylor said.