The annual Invermere Fireman’s Ball is coming up, and is moving to a new location this year, in the brand spanking new Columbia Valley Centre.

The Invermere fire department has been holding the ball for almost five decades now (this year is the 46th Fireman’s Ball), usually in the old Invermere Community Hall. But the new centre opened just weeks ago, and the novelty of the venue is creating a buzz around the upcoming ball this year, according to Invermere firefighter Geoff Hill.

“We are super excited to have in the new centre,” said Mr. Hill. “The decorating crew has a ton of ideas they are eager to test out. It’s going to be different, in a good way.”

Aside from additional space for the ball, the Columbia Valley Centre should be a bit more comfortable and result in better sound quality during the dance, according to Mr. Hill.

This year will also see the event return to a time slot on the weekend closest to Halloween.

“It has bounced around a bit, in terms of exactly when we hold it, but this year it’s back to Halloween weekend,” said Mr. Hill.

The event is a long-standing staple on the Invermere social calendar, and typically draws a capacity crowd of about 200.

“We do get a lot of regulars. It’s a really fun atmosphere. It’s a great chance to get out of the house, leave the kids behind and unwind somewhere that’s bustling and lively, but offers a bit of a different feel than just going out to the bar,” said Mr. Hill.

As usual the ball will include a bar serving drinks and refreshments; a silent auction; a high rollers silent auction; a scrumptious buffet dinner; awards and recognition for various members of the fire department; and live music, this year from local guitar slinger Big Eli B, and dancing.

Those keen to go are advised to get their tickets as soon as they can, as Mr. Hill said ticket sales are already underway and have been strong so far.

In addition to buying individual tickets, ball goers can this year, for the first time ever, reserve a whole table (which seats up to eight people).

“It just gives people the chance to sit with their friends, if they want,” said Mr. Hill. “And as an added incentive, it will be the reserved tables that get called up to the buffet first. So the people who booked the first reserved table, they’ll get the first chance to hit the buffet, and the people who book the second reserved table will get to go next, and so on.”

The silent auction will begin early in the evening and go throughout most of the evening. The high roller silent auction involves special items, sometimes packaged together, that are the kind of things that people usually group together to bid on, according to Mr. Hill.

“So a house boat trip for instance. Several people will get together, pool their resources, and make a bid on that,” he said.

“The fire department creates an amazing sense of community, not just for the (department) members, but for the whole town,” said Mr. Hill. “Not everybody has the ability or the free time to be on the fire department, but anybody can come to the ball (one of the department’s biggest fundraisers) and support us, and by so doing, they are a part of everything that comes out of the fire hall. Every time that truck leaves that hall, you’re a part of that.”

The bar will open at 6 p.m, dinner is at 7 p.m. and the live music begins at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased from any Invermere Fire department member as well as at PetroCan, the Fire Hall or Konig Meat & Sausage Co.