Firehouse hosts lively scholarship fundraiser

Published on: October 12, 2017

Guests line the Buttman BBQ buffet table at the Firehouse Cultural Center’s 4th annual Blues & Bar-B-Que event in Ruskin Oct. 7. At left, Bill Hereford serves MiraBay resident Jim Burhop a chicken thigh to go along with his ribs and “fixins.”


If you missed the Firehouse Cultural Center’s 4th annual Blues & Bar-B-Que last Saturday night, you missed one heck of a party.

Organizers say about 175 area residents turned out for Buttman BBQ’s smokin’ barbecued ribs and chicken, baked beans, slaw and mac ̓n cheese. Tea and dessert were included, but many ambled over to the beer and wine station to imbibe on something stronger. The peach and apple pie moonshine shots were particularly popular.

While guests dined and chatted with friends and neighbors, Rick Hatfield and Kenny Carlyle lit up the room with continual foot stompin’ country and blues.

“I’m very grateful to have been invited by friends tonight,” said Katrin Green, of Apollo Beach, adding she felt “lucky to have neighbors who are culturally experienced. I’m having a great time with great company, great food and great music.”

Organizers were equally as pleased.

“It’s a wonderful crowd tonight,” said event chairwoman Ann Hathaway. “Everyone’s having fun and enjoying the food and music. That and raising money for program scholarships are what this event is about.”

The Firehouse Cultural Center hosts the annual celebration to fund “arts and educational program scholarships for low-income residents of all ages and diversities,” said Georgia Vahue, the center’s executive director. “It’s one of our most relaxed, fun events of the year.”

While folks wined, dined and visited with friends and neighbors, Rick Hatfield (on guitar) and Kenny Carlyle provided both laid-back and foot-stompin’ country and blues music at the Firehouse Cultural Center’s 4th Annual Blues & Bar-B-Que event.

Board members donated both cash and items for a raffle held during the event, which generated $700 in additional funds for scholarships, said Hathaway, who planned the 4th annual Blues & Bar-B-Que with committee members Gabriel Mbulo, Frances Hereford, Beth Stein and Vahue. Tickets were $5 to $10, depending on the item.

The Firehouse Cultural Center, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is at 101 First Ave. N.E., Ruskin. Its board includes Bruce Marsh, president; Janice Bayruns; Tom Grimm; Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman; Patti Beckett; Laurie Burhop; Dolores Coe; Tom Cook; Ann Hathaway; Jeff Knauff; Ann Mohin; Allen Witt; Sandy Council; Laurie Kepler; Bob Mohr; Melanie Rimes; and Michael Parker. The staff includes Vahue, Stein, Hereford and Rudy Ortiz.

Some upcoming classes and events include:

• Comedy Night at the Firehouse Pub, Oct. 20

• Valerie Gillespie Jazz Ensemble, Oct. 21

• Whitney James & La Lucha Trio, Oct. 28

• Radio Production, Nov. 4 through Dec. 2

• Franzini Family Science Circus, Nov. 7 and 8

• Ken Loomer Big Band, Nov. 10

• Peruvian Artists in Residence, Nov. 13 to 18

• Figure Drawing Group for adults, every Thursday evening

To learn more about these and many other programs, classes and workshops offered to the public, call 813-645-7651 or visit

Better yet, consider supporting its mission by becoming a member, said Stein, operations coordinator. Individuals pay $35 a year; family memberships are $50. Members get first notice of free events and discounts on tickets for any Firehouse Pub event or Firehouse Cultural Center class.

“What you save on events and classes easily covers the annual membership fee,” Stein said. “And those fees help support our wide array of programming and operational expenses.”