NEW BREMEN – The longest running festival in Auglaize County, the 101st New Bremen German Township Firemen’s Picnic, will be held Friday and Saturday, July 22 and 23, at the village’s Crown Pavilion.
According to Jeff Utz, picnic chair, “While the highlight of every Firemen’s Picnic is the Waterball competition, this event has activities for young and old alike that do not necessitate getting very wet. Whatever the activity, the proceeds go toward volunteer fire department expenses and scholarships.”
Friday’s schedule begins at 5 p.m. when the beverage and food stands open. Registration to participate in the kid’s Gagaball contest and both the Firemens Memorial 5K and the Fun Run will begin at 6:30 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m. the Firemen’s Fun Run and Gear Challenge begins, with firemen from several local fire departments, some running in full fire gear, join other runners to complete the 1 mile course.
At 8 p.m. the Firemen’s Memorial 5 K begins. Awards will be given for top three male and female overall and for top 3 in each age group. Proceeds from the 5K and fun Run benefit the New Bremen German Township Fire Department Scholarship Program.
To entertain, DJ’s from the New Bremen Fire Department will play music until the end of the 5K events.
“For the kids,” said Utz, “we have brought back the Gaga Ball Challenge on Friday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.” The cost is $1per person and the winner of each round receives $2.”
For the uninitiated, Gaga, a form of dodgeball, is played in a large fenced-in area (usually an octagon or hexagon) called a gaga pit. The game begins when one player or a referee throws the gaga ball into the air, while players have their backs or hands set against the wall. The players shout “Ga” on each of the first two bounces. After two bounces, the ball is in play and a players may leave the wall and “hit” the ball at each other in the pit. A player who is hit by the ball or breaks a rule is eliminated and must leave the game.
Utz said “Another Firemen’s fund raiser is the annual raffle. Each extra raffle ticket is $5 per entry. Entries will be accepted until 10:55 PM on Saturday, July 23, and the drawing will take place promptly at 11:00 PM.”
Raffle tickets can be purchased online as well as at the picnic. The link to buy tickets is https://newbremen.com/firemenspicnic/ with the raffle ticket form found at the bottom of the picnic schedule.
The picnic closes down at 11:30 p.m. that night.
On Saturday, July 23, the picnic opens at noon with food and beverages available.
Utz said, “The signature event of the Firemen’s picnic, the Waterball Challenge will begin with a kid’s version at 1 pm., with registration starting at 12:30.”
For the kids ages 5 years old to 13 years old, teams of three will wear a fire helmet and use a fire hose to win a water “tug-of-war” against another team.
At 2 p.m. the New Bremen football team will show their weight-lifting achievements at a Lift-A-Thon.
From 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m pony rides will be available and kids games open at 5:30 and run until 9:30 p.m.
Finally, at 5 p.m., the Firemen’s Waterball Challenge begins, with firemen from various departments competing to be the team to push a suspended ball across the finish line by use of the high velocity water coming from a fire hose.
Music by band Monroe County runs from 7 p.m. to midnight.
The Firemen’s raffle drawing will be held at 11 p.m. and the picnic closes at 12:30 a.m.
Utz encourages people to attend the picnic. “It’s a fun community event that allows the New Bremen German Township volunteer fire department to raise funds to purchase additional equipment. Last year, we were able to pay for extrication equipment and battery-operated tools.”
According to the website of the New Bremen German Township Fire Department, the 30 member volunteer department has equipment that includes a “97-foot aerial platform combination pumper, which is an exceptional resource for any village.” The department also has two pumpers, one tanker, an equipment truck and a “grasshopper” for fighting grass fires.
The website adds “the ISO Fire Rating for the Village is a Class 3, a high accomplishment for a volunteer department. The ISO Fire Rating is a combination of equipment and personnel, fire hydrants and water system, and fire prevention activities. Fire insurance rates are affected for every insured property in town, both residential and commercial.”