Marking the opening night of Washburn’s Brownstone Block Party for the 15th straight year, the Washburn Emergency Service 500 Dance will take place on Friday, July 27th from 6:00pm-11:00pm at the Washburn Ambulance and Fire Halls. This free community gathering is a favorite for locals and visitors alike, and will once again celebrate the local music scene with two headliners in 2018. Washburn’s own Chequamegon Bay People’s Orchestra will open the music festivities at 7pm with the up and coming reggae band Noble Sound System taking the stage at 9pm.
“We are excited to bring two incredible local bands to the stage this year,” said EMT and music organizer Andy Okey. “CBPO and Noble Sound System will provide excellent music for all tastes while still allowing us to be being a showcase for local bands.”
The festival is sponsored by both the Washburn Chamber of Commerce and South Shore Brewery, with South Shore serving up several of their favorite selections. Food and dessert is also plentiful with choices from the Washburn Lions, Tetzner’s Dairy, and Taco Dan’s.
The highlight of the night happens at 9pm with the drawing for the Washburn Emergency Services 500 raffle. This raffle, also in its 15th year, will award $15,000 to one lucky individual, with other major prizes of $5,000 and $2,500. Tickets for the raffle are $80 each, but only 500 tickets are sold.
In the past the raffle tickets included admission to the dance, with food and drink tickets included. That was true until the State of Wisconsin paid a visit and advised that raffle tickets need to be independent of any incentives outside of the prizes. To make up for the change in practice, Washburn Emergency Services- which is comprised of both ambulance and fire department members, decided to make the July 27th dance admission FREE.
“We felt that the change in raffle ticket format also warranted a change in how we ran our front gate,” said Dan Clark, EMS Director. “After experimenting with various ideas the past few years, we have settled on a format that we feel is a good value for all while still raising thousands of dollars for each organization.”
“This is a great community event, and with no admission fee to get in the gate it is now more accessible than ever to everyone in our community,” said Mike Pederson, Fire Department Chief. “We hope to provide a place for the entire community to gather, reminisce, and celebrate a wonderful summer evening, while raising some money for two wonderful services.”
Tickets for the raffle can be purchased from any firefighter or EMT from now until all 500 are sold. Firefighters and EMTs can often be seen sitting outside of Hansen’s IGA in Washburn selling tickets most afternoons. Participants do not need to be present at the dance to win the raffle. Those interested in the raffle should purchase their tickets soon, and not wait until closer to the event.
“Many times in the past 15 years we have sold all of the tickets several days in advance of the dance. There are always people who wait and then look for them after we have sold out. We recommend everyone buy their tickets early and not risk missing out at an incredible 1 in 500 chance at $15,000,” said EMT Evelynn Dax.
The funds are used by each department in a variety of ways. Just last year the fire department was able to purchase an upgraded thermal imager thanks to the fundraiser and the ambulance has purchased many things over the years including their UTV, power cots, and several defibrillators.
The Washburn Emergency Services 500 dance is one of the highlights of the revamped Washburn Brownstone Days. The first in a series of block party style events throughout the weekend, the dance typically draws hundreds of locals to the ambulance and fire halls. Visitors are reminded that anyone under 14 needs a parent present and no carry-ins or pets are allowed.