Cherokee County Fire
& Emergency Services

Cherokee County Fire Explorers Bring Home Six Awards from Winterfest

February 10, 2020

Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services’ Explorer Post 469 brought home six awards during the 46th Annual Winterfest Competition that was held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The competition took place on February 7th and 8th at The Gatlinburg Convention Center with over 3,000 Explorers and Venturers from across the country attending the event this year.

Winterfest is the largest gathering in the United States catering to Explorers and Venturers and it takes place annually in Gatlinburg, TN. The event is the largest scout assembly that specifically targets co-ed youth ages 14-21, and allows them to participate in a variety of competitive and social activities throughout the weekend.

The post went up against some tough competition to bring home six Top-Three finishes! They placed first in Rapid Rescue and Resuscitate and Vent, Enter and Search.

Second place trophies were earned in The Cherokee Drill and Table Top Display.

Plus, the local fire explorers also earned 3rd place in the Denver Drill and Table Top Display.

One of the events in the competition was The Cherokee Drill, which was an event that Explorer Post 469 hosted.  This event was dedicated to Logan Droke in a ceremony that took place Saturday morning. Droke, a member of the local fire explorer post, died on June 23rd from cancer. Logan's father, Randall Droke, is a Cherokee County firefighter and serves as an advisor to the explorers and Logan's brother, Merrick Lindell, is currently an explorer in the post as well. The explorers memorialized Logan this weekend by also wearing a decal on their air packs which featured a ribbon and Logan's initials.

This was the 19th year that the fire department’s explorers have attended the event. Post 469 brought 20 youth and 15 advisors to this event. Some of the attendees from the department included Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather, Assistant Fire Chief, Eddie Robinson, Operations Chief, Shane West and Retired Fire Chief, Bob Nealy. Many friends and family members of Post 469 were also in attendance.

The explorers began training for this year’s Winterfest back in the Fall of 2019. They averaged 7-10 hours of training per week and were mentored by career and volunteer firefighters who volunteer as advisors and associate advisors.

According to Tim Prather, Cherokee County Fire Chief, “We have a great group of young people who have worked hard for this year’s competition.  Many of our current firefighters in Cherokee County were once members of our explorer program.”

The explorer program is a career based leaning opportunity and is open to young men and women ages 14 (and completed the 8th grade) and not yet 21 years old with an interest in learning more about careers in the field of fire & emergency services.

Fire and emergency services exploring is a hands-on program that exposes participants to many career experiences, leadership opportunities, and community service activities. The primary goals of the program are to help young adults choose a career path within fire and emergency services and to challenge them to become responsible citizens of their communities and country. For more information about Explorer Post 469 you can contact Lt. Michael Sims at 678-644-1377 or mrsims@cherokeega.com.

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Cherokee County Fire Explorers who participated in Winterfest are (front row - left to right):  Maxwell Garcia, Isaiah Powell, Gene Kachele, Caleb Hartley, Josh Wright, Vincent Perrotta, Cody Holliday, Gabe Shull, Denver Ice, Seth Stephenson and Jared MacCracken.  Back Row (left to right): Tyler Nealy, Merrick Lindell, Josh Shorts, Ana Bowyer, Lucas Doty, Logan Woodall, Miguel Gavina and McKinley Arnold.
Cherokee County Fire Explorers who participated in Winterfest are (front row - left to right): Maxwell Garcia, Isaiah Powell, Gene Kachele, Caleb Hartley, Josh Wright, Vincent Perrotta, Cody Holliday, Gabe Shull, Denver Ice, Seth Stephenson and Jared MacCracken. Back Row (left to right): Tyler Nealy, Merrick Lindell, Josh Shorts, Ana Bowyer, Lucas Doty, Logan Woodall, Miguel Gavina and McKinley Arnold. (click image for slideshow)
Former fire explorer, Logan Droke, was honored at this year's Winterfest.  Logan's Dad, Randall, and his brother, Merrick, stand at the memorial honoring Logan who passed away last June.
Former fire explorer, Logan Droke, was honored at this year's Winterfest. Logan's Dad, Randall, and his brother, Merrick, stand at the memorial honoring Logan who passed away last June.
Cherokee County Fire Explorers particate in the Z Drag.
Cherokee County Fire Explorers particate in the Z Drag.
Cherokee Fire Explorers placed second in the Cherokee Drill.
Cherokee Fire Explorers placed second in the Cherokee Drill.
The explorers memorialized Logan this weekend by also wearing a decal on their air packs which featured a ribbon and Logan's initials.
The explorers memorialized Logan this weekend by also wearing a decal on their air packs which featured a ribbon and Logan's initials.