Sausagefest coming to Willows Park

Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation hosts new event to support local playground

Sausages and beer are coming to Willows Park this September in a new event planned by the Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation.

Oak Bay council approved an application Monday from the foundation for the Sept. 17 event that will be used largely to raise money for a new playground at Willows elementary, said firefighter Jason Hodge, executive director of the foundation.

The playground cost is estimated at $70,000 and Hodge said the foundation aims to contribute about $20,000.

Sausagefest will offer a variety of sausages and related items from local businesses as well as a beer garden in a cordoned off area. A single brewery will be invited to provide the beer, Hodge told council. Donations will also be accepted at the gate.

While 90 per cent of the proceeds will go to the Willows playground, five per cent will go toward the foundation’s other local projects and five per cent toward prostate cancer programs, Hodge said.

The charitable foundation had held a gala the last few years, with diminishing returns, he said, suggesting younger families – including many whose children will benefit from the playground – may not be able to afford the expense of a big-ticket event. The Willows Park event may be a more accessible fundraiser for many in the community.

“We’re trying to keep this as a real family-oriented event,” he said.

Mayor Nils Jensen noted that the event “is a bit of a step forward for us.

“We’ve never had this kind of event, at least in my memory, at that park and so it’s a bit of a break with the past. That doesn’t mean we can’t do it…,” Jensen said, asking about plans to deal with those who might drink too much.

In accordance with B.C. liquor regulations, security staff will be on hand and the servers will all have their “Serving it Right” certification, Hodge said.

Oak Bay firefighters will also volunteer first aid services. “We’re trying to make a fun, family event here.”

Coun. Michelle Kirby voiced support for the initiative.

“I think it’s a great idea and I applaud you for putting effort in to help Willows school with the playground because it’s very painful to have to raise that massive sum of money for the playground. It takes years,” Kirby said.

Sausagefest will run from 1 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 17.