Attendance at Family Water Alliance’s Cajun-style dinner at St. Bernadette’s Hall in Colusa on Saturday was down from last year’s record number of nearly 500 people, as a result of air quality concerns caused by the Camp Fire, which is still burning in Butte County. 

While smoke kept people from venturing outdoors to a number of the events held in the past week, those who did make it to the annual FWA dinner didn’t forget the victims of the fire, which has killed over 70 people, left tens of thousands homeless, and many in the foothill community of Paradise still missing. 

While the annual dinner, raffle and silent auction is a fundraiser that helps support the operation of FWA, best known since 1990 for its fish screen program and advocacy of agriculture, private property rights, and rural communities, a portion of the proceeds were dedicated to the victims of the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history. 

At auction, a photo of the Honey Run Covered Bridge over Butte Creek, which the fire destroyed on Nov. 8, sold and resold twice for $450 before being purchased by Pat Kittle to be given away as a gift to someone who will treasure the memory of the iconic structure, which had been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. 

The bridge, constructed in 1886, was the last three-span Pratt-style truss bridge in existence in the United States.

Proceeds from Marie Spooner’s famous apple pie, which sold for $500, also went to the victims of the fire, as were the proceeds from the sale of nut brittle. 

FWA’s Hot Cajun Night was moved to St. Bernadette’s from the American Legion Hall in Maxwell two years ago specifically to attract more attendees, and organizers expect a number of supporters who could not make the event this year to return in 2019.  

Meanwhile, the organization will continue their efforts to support the building of the Sites Reservoir, which has been a primary focus for the past several years, organizers said. 

Former Colusa County Supervisor Tom Indrieri cooked the traditional tri-tip, salmon, and jambalaya dinner. 

Colusa High School and Maxwell High School FBLA members served the food cafeteria style and served as auction runners. 

“This is a huge volunteer effort,” said FWA Executive Director Nadine Bailey. “It’s really, really inspiring.” ■