CHESTER-The Chester Volunteer Fire Department raised $325,000 in its annual Fall Bash this year, Chief John Hissam said Friday.
"We considered this a very good year," Hissam said. The Fall Bash is the department's chief fundraiser of the year.
The 11th annual Fall Bash was held on Sept. 14-15 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Newell. It paid out $800,000 in cash and non-cash prizes.
The money raised compares favorably to previous years' results-$255,719 in 2011 and $298,365 in 2010-according to paperwork the Chester Volunteer Fireman's Association files with the Internal Revenue Service every year.
The net gaming income from the Fall Bash covers about 80 percent of the fire department's annual budget, Hissam said. The rest comes from fees it collects from the CVFD Storage Units on U.S. Route 30, and city, county and state sources.
The annual Fall Bash is one of the biggest fundraising events of its kind in West Virginia. "We sell tickets in all 50 states and three countries," he said.
"We're successful because we put the time in and the effort in to make it go," Hissam said. "If it wasn't for the dedication of the firemen, we couldn't do it."
Organizers have already begun working on the 2013 Fall Bash, scheduled for Sept. 20-21 at Mountaineer.
Next year's event will have a grand total of $1.05 million in prizes, Hissam said, partly because of a new $50 ticket. The ticket will pay $250,000 to one winner and a bonus of $50,000 if the winner is present during the drawing, he said.
Other tickets are $100, $50 (Friday, cash prizes only) and $25. Tickets go on sale in mid-March.
Tickets for this year's Fall Bash went on sale on March 26 and sold out by May 9.
Hissam thanked the Chester community, volunteers and ticket buyers for their support.