Fire Fest is the recipient of the 2022 Special Event of the Year Award for Natural Resources.
FireFest is a community event that celebrates the importance of prescribed fire in Florida. For the past 16 years, park staff and volunteers put on the event that includes two prescribed fire demonstrations (one at night), vendors, food, live music, hayrides, swamp buggy tours, educational programs and other family-friendly activities.
FireFest 2022 had an attendance of 2,800 visitors and 36 vendors/conservation organizations along with 133 volunteers assisting with the event and totaling 580 volunteer hours. Volunteers included residents and locals but also organizations such as Scouts and church groups.
These volunteers helped with setup, breakdown, education, and a variety of other responsibilities from parking to crowd control during the prescribed fire demos. We also had 19 Florida Conservation Corps members assist with the event, which is supported by the Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
Planning for FireFest starts months in advance. Park staff and volunteers lay out the plan and budget, vendors and cooperators are contacted and booked, resources are requested, and all volunteers are trained before the large-scale event. Attendance at an in-person, pre-event meeting is required for each volunteer to go over their specific job duties in relation to the overall event and safety. This also helps them be aware of the importance of prescribed fire.