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Annual event honors memories of Justin and David Fraijo, raises funds for scholarships

PMG PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - The Fuji Fest 2019 music finale featured (fromt left) Todd Stahlnecker, James Nikolas, Mike Jordan, David Wyatt, John Van Oeveren, Trent Beaver and Virgil Lee.

The fourth annual Fuji Fest was held at the Colton Fire Station on Saturday, Aug. 24.

The community event, hosted by the Colton Volunteer Fire Association, is to honor the memories of Colton volunteer firefighters Justin and David Fraijo and to raise monies, through donations, for the Justin Lee Fraijo Memorial Scholarship awarded to a Colton High School senior with plans to pursue studies in health or emergency services.

The fun-filled night offered great music, a dunk tank, raffle and food—lots of food—150 pounds of barbecue pork, coleslaw, pasta salad, twice-baked potatoes, deviled eggs, chips and beverages. The fire station's back lot was filled with attendees who came to honor memories and to celebrate all who volunteer and serve in the community.

COURTESY PHOTO: CHELSEA SKOGAN-BOYD - Geri Fraijo, about to get dunked, is handed a rose by Bryce Brown.At one point during the night, Geri Fraijo and Kelly Stephens entered the dunk tank to help raise money for the scholarship fund. The line was long and a lot of pitches were on target, dunking the two multiple times. Each dunk elicited cheers from the crowd. Seven-year-old Bryce Brown had brought a special rose for Geri Fraijo and handed it to her while she was waiting for the next ball to hit the dunk-me target.

"Before we came tonight, Bryce just said he wanted to give Geri a rose," said Bryce's father, Tipton Brown. "So he went outside, picked one and brought it for her."

Two bands took the stage. The opening act was Mike Jordan and Virgil Lee with guest drummer John Van Oeveren and appearances by David Wyatt and Todd Stahlnecker. Trevor Beaver with James Nikolas on guitar closed out the night with a long set that included Beaver's original music. The finale had all the night's musicians on stage to perform Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel." The area in front of the stage filled with dancers and everyone sang along.

"I think Fuji Fest is a great community event," Cathy Schmidt said. "It's a fundraiser in honor of Justin and David. This night feels like a family reunion with so many community members, and I loved the music."

Colton Fire Lieutenant Chris Cohoon said it was one of the best attended fests since it began and more than $2,500 was raised toward the scholarship.

This year's recipient of the Justin Lee Fraijo Memorial Scholarship, 2019 Colton High School graduate Rebecca Burge, will be attending Brigham Young University-Hawaii to pursue studies in sports medicine.

The Colton Volunteer Firefighters' Association is planning to add an additional scholarship for current volunteer firefighters who wish to continue their studies in the firefighting and emergency medical fields.

"The community really came together for tonight," Cohoon said. "True Life Church brought their sound system, Don Newell provided lighting, Canyon Creek Fellowship Church let us use their kitchen and refrigerators and Chris Jesser donated his flatbed for the stage."

Cohoon said the Colton Volunteer Firefighters Association wanted to thank their sponsors: Erickson's Thriftway in Prineville, Clyde's and Glenn Thoma Barbecue.

"This night is very meaningful to our department and we see the meaning behind it with the community support we get. We plan to make it bigger and better every year."

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