Out to dinner with the Summertown CFS


I have been struck lately by all the community events that take place wherever you look. Mostly these things go pretty much unnoticed unless you are part of the action – who knows what the 15th Camden Park Classic is (I saw a banner about it last week as I was driving along Anzac Highway)? And who puts the local orchid show together, or the triathlon that was held last weekend? There are lots of people doing things unnoticed to enhance their lives and that of those around them. Most of us are part of this in one way or another – often we just do what we do though and don’t think about it much.

Last Saturday I went to a fundraiser for the Summertown CFS. I was invited by an old friend, whom I don’t see often, and though I have dear friends in the Hills, I haven’t been specifically to Summertown for years (actually now I think about it, it wasn’t at Summertown itself, but the Uraidla Primary School). It was a cold night, and the event was an outdoor one – a Long Table Dinner. Those attending had to bring their own everything – chairs, food, plates, glasses, drinks, light, the lot, and we sat at long trestle tables and shared food with those around us. Rita and her sister Mirella (my friends) had been invited by their friend Chris, who is part of that CFS group. There was a colour dress theme (white), which I (unlike most people there) took no notice of. Funds were raised not through the dinner itself, but through a big raffle and silent auction. There was music, the CFS truck, a bank of portaloos and a big display of raffle and auction prizes. I felt a bit uncertain before I went – I hadn’t seen my pals for ages, and didn’t think I’d know anyone else who would be there – but it was a very pleasant, relaxed atmosphere as we all shivered and shook in the cool night air. (Note to self: take lots of clothes to hills events whatever the season!).

It was a big show – many people stretched out over part of the oval and it struck me how much organization would have had to go into it. Setting up the tables, organizing publicity, getting prizes donated (and there were heaps of them), organizing the sound system and the band, setting up the toilets, tearing raffle tickets into bundles of 3 (it was 3 tickets for $5), gathering a team of raffle ticket sellers, procuring and placing candle lamps on the tables and white cloths, having the fire truck there. The jobs go on and on, and although it seems a pretty simple event at one level (no food was provided for example), when you think about it, there is just heaps of behind the scenes work done by a mob of people who are committed to their local cause and who know that getting people together can do wonders for the CFS in this case, and also give people a very happy activity to be part of.

It was a great night, and I was really happy to be there, not having done a single thing towards setting up the night, but a grateful and slightly awed beneficiary of this mass of community effort.


People arriving at a long table


The band in action


Auction table


Light and water


Another table shot


The tables set up


Rita and Mirella


Chris brought a gas burner and some very welcome soup


Some of the gang sitting in our group


Chris (looking elegant in his white disposable overall), Rita, Monty the dog, and Mirella looking cold! (It was ridiculously cold for January)


The scene at twilight




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4 Responses to Out to dinner with the Summertown CFS

  1. Mandy says:

    Great interesting piece again EB…..how lovely to be involved and accepted into a community….just lovely. I think we all yearn to belong in some way or another.

  2. So true Mandy, I know that in myself and see it in others a lot – and thanks too for your encouragement here once more…

  3. goatwill says:

    Nice summary, Elizabeth. This is the Chris of your story. As a life-long chameleon (RAAF brat; no choice but to be skilled at fitting in and getting along) I am a part of many and varied communities. Living in the Adelaide Hills for my short married life I couldn’t just drift away as that phase ended.
    As a CFS member I found a deeper sense of belonging in as far as (without trying to be over-dramatic) mutually relying upon the other team members for one’s very survival. If we seriously get it wrong it is my neighbour’s body I’ll be snuggled up to when we become “crispy critters” rather than my child or spouse. That functional intimacy and inter-dependance cannot coexist with the anonymity of the suburbs (tho’ you can’t long be successfully secretive in Adelaide!) and we manage to co-operate with people who might not be on our Christmass card list, just the same.
    Anyway, so glad you did decide to attend.

    • Hi Chris, Thanks a lot for your comment. It is really interesting to hear about the impact of being part of the CFS and that sense of intimacy you talk about. The way we need each other is put into stark relief in a fire-fighting situation, and the need to of accept people even when we might not agree with them in a whole lot of ways in the normal social round.
      It was a really nice night, and I look forward to catching up again sometime.

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