The Buckets and Boots Foundation's third annual fund-raiser Saturday, July 13, at the Rocker B Ranch in Graford, will feature Willie Robertson, CEO of Commander Duck Calls and star of the A&E television show "Duck Dynasty," as master of ceremonies. The preliminary line-up includes a headline appearance by country artist Tracey Lawrence; Burleson native, the Casey Donahew Band; and Turnpike Troubadours. A surprise Texas country performer will be added to the line-up before the fundraiser. Tickets, at $25, are available in Mineral Wells at the Area Chamber of Commerce and first Financial Bank; at Possum Kingdom Lake, Graham Savings and Loan, Possum Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, Smart Hardware, Trading Post, Ranch Brand Jewelry and Lake Country Sun; at Graford, Lemley's Package Store and Sportsman's Headquarters. In April 2011, a series of massive wildfires burned out of control in Palo Pinto and Young counties. During these devastating fires, over 1.5 million acres were destroyed and more than 300 homes were burned to the ground. In response to the fires and the financial strain it put on the area's volunteer fire departments, a group of local property owners created the Buckets and Boots Foundation. "We had a goal in mind," said Buckets and Boots spokesman Lance Byrd. "We wanted a way to raise funds to repair and upgrade fire fighting equipment." The foundation hosted the inaugural concert July 2011 at the Rocker B Ranch, which netted approximately $450,000. Those proceeds have been awarded through a grant process to local volunteer fire departments.


The grants played a key role in purchasing six new fire engines for local departments and aided in the repair of existing equipment and the purchase of new equipment. Additionally, an ERF was established to assist local fire departments with future fires. During the summer of 2012, fires once again broke out in the Graford/Palo Pinto County area. Local fire departments again rose to the challenge and worked tirelessly to control the fires. Despite their valiant efforts, the massive nature of these wildfires put significant strain on the local departments. While waiting for the state to allocate additional resources, the Buckets and Boots Foundation was able to step in and make a significant and immediate impact through the use of the ERF. The foundation, in a coordinated effort with the local fire chiefs, privately hired 10 bull-dozers with operators who were able to cut a fire ring around the fires, enabling the local departments to control and contain the fires, thus protecting the area and saving thousands of acres and countless homes from imminent danger. The Buckets and Boots Foundation has shown that a public/private partnership with local VFDs can make a huge impact in the firefighter's ability to quickly contain wildfires before they reach the point of spreading out of control. Unfortunately, the 2012 fires have put a big dent in the ERF and the foundation's ability to provide future financial assistance. With drought conditions still affecting the area, wildfire conditions remain a major threat to the Palo Pinto County area. The foundation has announced that a portion of this year's event will directly benefit the West, Texas, Volunteer Fire Department that was devastated last month when a fertilizer plant exploded in the small Texas town. "During the 2011 Palo Pinto County fires, volunteers flooded the area with assistance from all across the state," said Byrd. "This year our neighbors in West are hurting and we will help them in the same manner others helped us." To purchase tickets or for more information, call (817) 984-8532 or visit Organizers said any Texas firefighter who arrives in uniform will be given free admission. They will need to pay for parking, $10 - no fire trucks. To qualify, firefighters need to contact their respective fire chief who can call (817) 984-8532. Free tickets will not be offered to dependents of firefighters, those tickets cost $25. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, July 10.