Annual Oakalla VFD fajita dinner feeds hundreds

By LYNETTE SOWELL
Cove Leader-Press 

Hundreds of hungry diners turned out Saturday evening for the annual Oakalla Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday. 
Held the first Saturday of November for decades, the night serves as one of two major fundraisers for the department each year.
Fire department members and volunteers cooked up hundreds of pounds of beef and chicken for the fajitas, served up with peppers and onions, seasoned refried beans and rice, along with fixings to include lettuce, cheese and sour cream. 
To cap off the meal, the Oakalla Library and the Community Center also held a 50-50 bake sale, with donations for dessert being split between the both groups.
Prior to the auction, OVFD fire chief Aaron Weeks, who has been with the department for almost 22 years, talked about the reason for the event. 
“We get to buy equipment needed for the community, things to make firefighters safer and the community safer; the main goal is to keep our firefighters safe and our community safe,” Weeks said.
This year, their aim is to raise funds to replace the air packs are going out of certification. 
“We just try to do the best we can with what we get,” Weeks said.
One of the items being raffled was an AR rifle, with sales of only 250 tickets at six for $100 or $20 each. 
Prior to the auction, Weeks also introduced Stuart Gaines to the crowd, saying he first met Gaines on the side of the highway. 
Gaines and his family came to the dinner and auction from their home in Del Valle, not only to support the department, but to publicly express thanks for helping Stuart during a life-or-death situation. 
“You’re looking at a person that the Oakalla Fire Department spent an hour and 15 minutes to extract out of a rollover, 9,000-gallon 18-wheeler truck,” Gaines said. “I’m here today to let everyone known that me, my family, everybody around me is very grateful to what the volunteer fire department did for me... I might start crying up here, just because I’m happy to see each and every one of y’all. With the help of these guys, I’m here today.” 
Gaines said the rollover accident occurred in February, and he suffered a fractured neck as well as other injuries. 
After the auction commenced, bidders tried to come away as winners to purchase items donated for the auction, such as metal yard art, plants, a Yeti cooler, baked goods, framed art, tools and more.
One item, a decorative Texas medallion, was auction with the proceeds donated to help volunteer fire fighters in southeast Texas who are still helping rebuild after Hurricane Harvey.
From up and down F.M. 2657, north to Copperas Cove or south to Briggs and Highway 183, or along F.M. 963 which goes west from Oakalla to Burnet, the Oakalla VFD is prepared to assist drivers and those in need of emergency aid at a moment’s notice. 
Like other volunteer departments throughout Texas, the Oakalla department depends on events like annual dinners and auctions to supplement the funding it receives from Burnet County.
The department will be holding its annual fish fry in the spring.

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