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 A new annual event is taking place in St. Cloud this year to raise money for first responders and their families.

Osceola County Commission Chair Fred Hawkins Jr. hosted a press conference Sept. 20 at Porky’s Comedy Club in St. Cloud alongside first responders, George Hastings of Hastings Ranch and Vinny Barber, co-owner of the comedy club.

Back the Blue BBQ is a registered non-profit charity aimed at raising funds for the families of first responders killed or injured in the line of duty. The funds will stay locally in Osceola County and provide aid immediately to first responders and their families, so that they don’t have to wait on other forms of assistance. The non-profit also plans to develop scholarships for students through the Education Foundation of Osceola County.

An event will be held Oct. 6 at the Hasting Farm and Fall Festival in St. Cloud with 100 percent of proceeds will benefiting Back the Blue BBQ. The event is set to feature a host of tribute bands, hay rides, corn mazes, food vendors, pumpkin sales and more.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It’s the first weekend of the Hastings Fall Festival, which continues every weekend in October. But Oct. 6 is the only day when proceeds will benefit Back the Blue, Hastings explained at the press event.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity, like something I don’t think we’ve ever seen in Osceola County,” said Hawkins.

The group is hoping for at least 2,000 visitors that day, and has set a goal of raising at least $40,000.

Admission cost is $11 per adult and $8.50 per child. The Sheriff’s Office will collect donations during parking, but donations for Back the Blue will only take place Oct. 6.

Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson thanked Hawkins, Barber and Hastings for their collaborative work in hosting the event.

“When someone gets tragically killed in the line of duty, like what happened to our brothers in Kissimmee, this is money that can go to the families immediately just to make a difference in getting them through without having to wait for those benefits through the governmental chain,” Gibson said.

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