MONTEREY —If you're looking for a good meal for a good cause on Saturday, head over to Monterey for the small town's Fire Company's Steak Roast.
The dinner is in its 39th year. The annual event is a social staple for the small town of Monterey which boasts just under 1,000 year-round residents (the population reaches close to 3,000 in the summer months).
"We're trying to keep the price somewhat reasonable," Fire Chief Shawn Tryon said.
To that end, tickets are $30 until Saturday and $35 on the day of the event. Tickets may be purchased from any Monterey firefighter; by calling (413)-528-3136; or online at montereyfire.org.
The dinner has evolved from the primary source of funding for the department to a community event. In the early years of the department, the dinner would provide almost all the necessary moneys to keep the department going. Now, times have changed, and the department relies on a number of funding sources to keep things going. The department keeps the dinner price at an affordable rate rather than increase the cost in order to foster a sense of community.
"We average about 650 people for the dinner," Tryon said. "Mostly Monterey residents, but we do have a few out-of-towners every year."
The event has changed over the years said Captain Del Martin.
"It used to be held in the baseball field at town park for about ten years," he explained. "We'd spend all summer borrowing tables and chairs to get ready."
"It used to take two to three months," Tryon said. "Now it takes us less than a week to set up."
The department spends Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon in preparation for the event. It's moved from the town's Greene Park to the Pavilion behind the Fire Station at the top of the hill to the west of the center of town.
As the event has evolved, so has the department. The fire station, at 36, is three years younger than the dinner. The station's mortgage used to be paid solely through the revenue generated by the dinner, Martin said.
"Over the years, especially the last 10 years, expenses have increased substantially," Martin said. "The amount from the dinner just doesn't float us like it used to. But we don't want to increase the cost, so we have an annual appeal now in April asking for money to help run the department."
The cost of upkeep for the station is the largest expense. The department's website tells visitors that the station has not had any substantial work done to it for the past three decades. The department asks visitors for yearly donations of $100 to offset renovation costs.
In the meantime, though, the dinner will provide some funding and fun. The Lucky 5 Band will perform old-time swing and Americana from 5:30 to dusk. Dinner will be served from 5- 7.