West End fire companies plan Firemen’s Festival fundraiser
The four West End fire companies have banded together to create a new and exciting way of raising money to support their volunteer efforts.
Just last month Kunkletown Volunteer Fire Company made the difficult decision to do away with its long-running carnival. A few years ago the West End Volunteer Fire Company did the same.
“It just too much work and man-hours and not as much return as in the past,” said Kevin Silliman, Kunkletown’s fire chief. “The older folks who really enjoyed the carnival are just not around anymore, and the younger people just aren’t as interested.”
Now, thanks to Randy Cramer of the Cramer Brothers, the West End will have a new and potentially permanent festival to help raise money and awareness for the local volunteer fire companies.
“To put it bluntly, too many people mistakenly believe that firefighters are paid and will always be there when they need them,” Cramer said. “And well, they are just wrong. These folks are volunteers and they are there for us 24/7.”
Kramer says his band was a fixture at both the Kunkletown and West End firefighters carnivals and he hated to see the tradition end.
“I understand that it is just too many man-hours for too little return,” Cramer said.
“The four West End fire companies that cover the five townships are all involved,” said Jeffrey Weiss, president of the West End Fire Company.
They include the West End Volunteer Fire Company, Kunkletown Volunteer Fire Company, Polk Township Volunteer Fire Company and Blue Ridge Hook and Ladder, which also covers Hamilton Township.
The festival will be held at the West End Fairgrounds June 27 through June 29. The event will open at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The festival will close at 9:30 every night, but on Saturday a fireworks display will follow at 9:30.
According to Cramer and Weiss, the food at the festival will be supplied by the fire companies. Outside vendors are being invited to display crafts and businesses, but food is strictly to be provided by the fire companies.
There will also be entertainment on the main stage continuously throughout the run of the festival featuring local talent like Lenny and the Loafers, Dean Moore, Steel Creek, Jesse Wade and, of course, the Cramer Brothers.
There will be rides and carnival games as well.
The event will also feature a mobile dispatch from the Monroe County Control Center, and dispatchers will be on hand to teach children how to contact 911. There will also be a smoke house and other fire safety demonstrations.
On Saturday the Monroe County Cruisers will hold a car show. There is even going to be a rock climbing wall and a mechanical bull.
“All of the money raised is going into one big pot and will be evenly split four ways between the four fire companies,” Cramer said. “This is a great way for the companies to come together and work together other than when they are working on a fire call.”
Weiss said that the fire companies will also schedule coverage for the townships they serve during the festival to guarantee that any needs are met.
Kramer said that the festival is looking for sponsorship from some of the local businesses and is just moments away from being able to announce a major sponsor.
“I am pretty sure it’s going to happen, but I just can’t say anything yet,” he said. “But we would love to have some of the other businesses in the area join us and let these firefighters know how important they are to us and how much we appreciate their selflessness and dedication to our communities.”