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Fireman’s Fair returns to St. Johnsville

Thursday, September 02, 2010 - Updated: 11:00 AM


C-S-E Editor

ST. JOHNSVILLE — This year, the St. Johnsville Fireman’s Fair started out slow, but was extremely well attended on Friday and Saturday, with impressive crowds showing up all weekend to enjoy the food, get their adrenaline pumping and view the event’s spectacular fireworks display.

“We had a good showing,” said St. Johnsville Volunteer Fire Department Secretary and Safety Officer Terry Potoczny, noting that the proceeds of the event this year will be put toward equipment and vehicle payments. While the department receives grants sporadically that assist them with equipment purchases, they buy a lot of their equipment themselves, and so the money raised during the annual fair is very important.

“The fair is our big money raiser,” said Potoczny.

For the St. Johnsville fireman, of which there are currently 48 active and inactive members, the fair is a month-long event, because while the fair only last one week, there is a huge preparation and set-up process that lasts the first three weeks of August. The fireman are also at Soldier’s and Sailors Field for days after the fair cleaning and clearing the area.

The fireman have already begun planning next year’s event, securing contracts and making arrangements. Starting the first week of August, the 38 fireman active in the event this year were on premises constructing and cleaning booths from top to bottom, setting up their game booths under massive tents. “A lot of people choose to support the fireman’s games under the tent because they know the money goes right to the fireman,” said Potoczny.

Prior to opening day, fireman and volunteers from the community help to clean the food booth, ordering food, counting, measuring, and preparing. They also set up the dunk tank, which is run by the fireman, and is occupied throughout the week by volunteers.

The food booth was incredibly successful this year, with fried dough selling out  Friday and Saturday. The fireman also sold a large amount of their newly created item — the garbage bowl, which contained fries with gravy, corn, chicken tenders and grated cheese. “That seemed to go really good,” said Potoczny of the garbage bowl, noting that it’ll most likely be added to next year’s menu again.

Potoczny noted that there were a lot of volunteers that assisted the fireman this year, doing various tasks, such as helping in the food booth, painting faces and running games. Volunteers also came to help set up and clean. “They just wanted to stop down and help,” said Potoczny.

The fireman also tried something new this year, opening the rides on Saturday at noon, instead of the regular 6 p.m. weekend start time, and the gamble paid off, as the crowd flooded in early and stayed until the fireworks. “The fireworks usually bring people out,” said Potoczny, adding, “they really love our fireworks show,” put on by American Fireworks, out of Frankfort.

Potoczny said he’s heard many compliments about the fireworks display, and also of the fair. One attendee told him that even though the rides have remained mostly the same for years, they’re still fresh and exciting to new attendees. The grateful attendee said his grandkids “lit right up,” their first time seeing the rides, which is exactly why the fireman put on the event. While it does raise them money, that’s not all that matters, and the St. Johnsville Fire Department is concerned with not only protecting the community, but providing them an annual week of fun.

“I’ve been watching people come here for years, and it’s just a good time,” said Potoczny, noting that one reason — amongst many — that the event goes off without a hitch each year is that “it’s a friendly, hometown affair,” devoid of alcohol. “We don’t have problems,” said Potoczny, explaining “the crowd is usually calm and enjoying the fair.”

While the fair was successful, Potoczny noted that the department, along with departments everywhere, continue to have problems securing volunteers. “It’s nice to get young blood in here, but it’s really hard,” said Potoczny, noting that the department used to have 60 members on the roster along with a waiting list, but interested volunteers have recently been harder to come across.

“Volunteers are always needed. What we do is for the community,” said Potoczny. Interested people can contact the department at (518) 568-7996. They may also feel free to stop by any Monday evening between 6-7 p.m., which is when the department trains each week.


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