STORY & VIDEO -- Volunteer firefighters hope big fundraiser featuring the Scooter Brown Band Saturday, March 24 will cover state budget cuts

After members of Smyrna’s volunteer fire company learned state budget cuts would trim about $27,000 in funds compared to 2017, they needed a big idea to make up the difference.

So instead of a dinner-dance with one band, they’ve organized a country music festival with three bands in hopes of attracting a larger-than-normal crowd.

“This is the first fundraiser of its kind that we have ever undertaken,” said Chris Hudson, Citizens’ Hose Company public information officer and past president.

The "Kickin' It Loose" concert will be held Saturday, March 24 starting at 3:30 p.m., at the fire station, 103 W. Commerce St., Smyrna.

Opening the show will be popular local band, The Jones Boys, followed by the John Loring Band coming all the way from Houston, Texas to make their Delaware debut.

Headlining the concert will be the Scooter Brown Band from Nashville, Tennessee. SBB is a hot up-and-coming band now touring the country with the Charlie Daniels Band, Travis Tritt and the Marshall Tucker Band. With strong connections to our nation’s military – two of their members are veterans – SBB plays gritty, red dirt country music with a southern rock kick. Their albums are available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Music. Their newest single, "American Son," features country music legend and Hall of Fame honoree Charlie Daniels.

Food will be available for purchase from Lower Slower Cue.

Ticket info

Tickets for "Kickin' It Loose" are $40 each.

For tickets, see the website Eventbrite.com and search for "Kickin' It Loose" or go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kickin-it-loose-country-music-concert-series-tickets-39293711549?aff=eac2

Need for funds greater than past years

Citizens' Hose Company is an all-volunteer fire company that depends on funding from a variety of sources including donations along with state, county and town grants. For years, dinners, dances, bake sales and other fundraisers have helped pay the bills.

However, the Delaware Legislature cut grant-in-aid funds for most non-profit groups by 20 percent for the 2018 fiscal year. For Citizens' Hose Company, that means a loss of $27,047 annually. Fundraisers like this concert are being held to fill that gap.

Hudson said the effects of the budget cuts have already begun.

For example, the company has a 1991 fire truck that needed major repairs, and typically the firefighters would buy a new truck to replace the 27-year-old model. However, the funding cuts changed their minds.

“Understanding we need to do more with less, we opted to do the major pump repair rather than spending over $400,000 for a new [truck],” said Hudson.

Meanwhile, the volunteers in the fire company are spending more time on fundraisers in addition to the time they already spend responding to emergencies and maintaining equipment.

Citizens' Hose Company serves the entire Smyrna area including Kent County and portions of New Castle County, a population of roughly 32,500 people and 68 square miles, Hudson said.

“Many hands make light work so it’s much easier when everyone gets on board. However, it's tough to get the members to volunteer [for more fundraisers.] We are on pace this year to respond to over 600 calls,” said Hudson. “Protecting lives and property comes first, and responding to alarms and training takes up a majority of our time. So when we ask our members to help with fundraisers, it's just more time away from their families. We are a 100-percent volunteer organization.”

More fundraisers planned

Hudson said the fire company is considering a big concert like this annually or even twice a year, in addition to regular fundraisers. The fire hall is also available to rent to the public for wedding receptions, birthday parties and dinners.

“It's important that we have close ties to the community,” said Hudson. “The firehouse in Smyrna has and always will serve the community. Our doors are always open. We have open houses, participate in numerous community parades, Smyrna at Night, the annual 9-11 ceremony and other community events throughout the year.”