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Monday, October 20, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,
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64th Firemen's Fair raises money for department

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - Updated: 10:01 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

ST. JOHNSVILLE -- The 64th Annual St. Johnsville Firemen's Fair at Soldiers and Sailors Park will run through Aug. 23, culminating with a massive fireworks display at 10 p.m. Saturday evening.

The fair kicked off Monday afternoon when the food booth opened for lunch, offering a variety of items, including the firemen's famous clam chowder, the recipe for which has been handed down repeatedly, always remaining exactly the same since the very first time it was prepared for fairgoers 64 years ago.

Each day, eight volunteers (a crew consisting of St. Johnsville Fire Dept. members, community residents and H.C. Smith Benefit Club members) begins cooking the double batch of chowder -- 240 quarts -- at 6 a.m., while simultaneously chopping vegetables for the next massive batch.

Each year, the fair operates thanks to a massive team of fire department members and volunteers from within and outside the community, including members of neighboring departments. Fire Chief Chris Weaver estimated that about 20 fire department members work at the fair on and off throughout the week, while at least 22 community members pitch in as well.

Weaver noted that volunteers are always welcome, even on short notice, to work in the day or night. Volunteers may even show up and ask to be put to work for a little while, and the fire department will accommodate location or station requests.

This year, the roughly 10-person planning committee organized multiple new events, including Wednesday's race car show, and Friday's upcoming Military Night, wherein active servicemen and women and veterans will be honored. A DJ will spin military music, while a veteran displays military items all evening.

On Saturday, the fair will run a 2-6 p.m. matinee, allowing attendees to purchase an-all day wristband for that time period. The final day of the fair will also feature a giant car show, held in the newly open space in the relative center of the park, where the firemen's games used to be located. The car show will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also new to the fair this year are numerous vendors.

This event annually serves as the St. Johnsville Fire Department's largest fundraiser, and is therefore extremely important in raising money for the organization's various annual costs, which includes strict compliance with constantly updated mandates, including the regular (every decade) replacement of expensive sets of $3,000 turnout gear, which the department purchases four or five of a year on a staggered basis. Airpacks, which each also cost thousands of dollars, must also be replaced regularly.

The department also makes fire truck payments and acquires vehicles with funding raised during the fair, including their ladder truck, which they used no taxpayer money to purchase. "We want to save the taxpayers as much money as we can," said Weaver, explaining that the money spent at the fair goes right back into the community.

"It's very important for us to raise money here each year," Weaver said, continuing, "I can't thank everybody enough. If it wasn't for the community volunteers and patrons, this fair wouldn't happen."

Rides open nightly at 7 p.m., with the food booth open from 11 to 1 daily for lunch, reopening each evening for dinner at 5 p.m. The food booth will remain open through the duration of each evening.

Thursday's scheduled event is Wrist Band Night, wherein attendees may ride all evening with the purchase of a wrist band.

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