By Ron Crook, events manager, and Nikki Sparks, office manager, for the Event Center at the Beach, Gold Beach

The Event Center on the Beach in Gold Beach was a very active responder and emergency resource during the Chetco Bar Fire, serving not only as a refuge for people and animals of the area and a meeting place for public agencies responding to the fire emergency, but as a facility to host a benefit concert for those whose properties were destroyed by the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service immediately set up the Incident Command Center at the Event Center on the Beach on Aug. 8, the week after the Curry County Fair, and operated there until Sept. 9. The facility had been used as an Incident Command Center twice before: for the Biscuit Fire in 2002, and then for the Collier Butte Fire in 2015. The Forest Service has continued to use the event center for meeting, fire briefing, storage and parking since Oct. 6.

During the fire the event center provided a building for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Center, at no charge, to help provide emergency housing for fire victims.

Emergency shelter for livestock was provided for residents of the evacuation area at no charge. The livestock pavilion and the covered arena were made available and manned by volunteers around the clock, providing care and protection for more than 100 animals from Aug. 21 to Sept. 27.

Volunteers included Ruth Dixon, Trish Jordan, Brittany Scott, Chris Brose, Kari Niedens, Kathy Mazur and the Carlton Strom family.

Animals taking refuge included 25 goats, 65 poultry, 18 pigs, eight horses, one cockatiel, four cats and four dogs, plus 11 puppies birthed while there.

Kingston Trio concert

The Event Center on the Beach, along with the Rogue Grange and Community Center in Nesika Beach sponsored the Chetco Bar Fire Fund Benefit Concert by the Kingston Trio on Oct. 6, seating more than 350 enthusiastic supporters. Events Manager Ron Crook; Mureen Walker, media projects; and Pat Case, Rogue Grange volunteered along with many others, including members of The Kingston Trio. They worked for weeks at planning and producing the event. Posters, roadside signs, newspapers, radio and television coverage and the video ad at Redwood Theater all were created and placed within a week to publicize the benefit event.

The concert netted $9,000, with all funds going to those who lost property to the Chetco Bar Fire in the Cate Road area, including Hazel Camp.

Gary Vila of Vinyl Odyssey donated sound and lighting. Christopher Paasch served as auctioneer, donated his own crafted metal art and gathered other generous donations from business owners and individuals of the area. Curry Fair Friends catered the event with their fresh-baked cookies along with coffee, water and soft drinks. The event center donated the use of Docia Sweet Hall for the benefit.

The Event Center on the Beach provides a venue for year-round events. The annual Curry County Fair is one of many events held at the facility. Other uses include large banquets, business lunches, conferences, conventions, fundraisers, meetings, weddings, receptions, reunions, several annual festivals and more.

The facility receives no revenues from the county, and is dependent on funding partnerships to maintain the facilities and services. The event center is majorly assisted by Curry Fair Friends, a 501c3, with volunteers providing a catering service and the profits donated for repair and maintenance projects of the facilities. The group also provides three free community dinners on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother’s Day, open to the public, without charge, and dependent on volunteers and donations.

In 2016, the city of Gold Beach approved a 1 percent Transient Lodging Tax dedicated to the Event Center on the Beach to provide for some of the most crucial repair, such as the number one priority, re-roofing Docia Sweet Hall.

With community support, the Event Center on the Beach will continue to serve all of Curry County.