KETTLERSVILLE — The 2018 Kettlersville-Van Buren Fireman’s Picnic is just around the corner. This is the 48th year for the annual event, one that offers something for everyone including free pony rides for the kids, lots of games for children and adults, and a chance for locals and out of town visitors alike to enjoy the fun-filled festivities, food, and fellowship.
The picnic will be held Saturday, July 21, at the Van Buren Township Firehouse at 8833 North St. in Kettlersville, and runs from 3 p.m. until midnight.
For 34 years Charlie Axe has been a member of the Kettlersville Fire Department and though a lot of time has passed, his excitement for the picnic has not. His zeal is the same as it was in his youth and Axe noted going to the picnic as a child probably kindled the community spirit that led him to where he is at today.
Axe has served the fire department as chief for 20 years and has a lot of cherished memories concerning the event.
“Even when I was a kid I realized the importance of this picnic and how it helped to provide a valuable element of security and safety-related services to our community,” said Axe. “I attended the picnic with my family and for as long as I can remember I’ve always looked forward to this time of year for that reason; it’s always been the highlight of every summer and a chance for people to get together and catch up on what’s been going on.
“The picnic is something the locals look forward to but also draws people from all around the State of Ohio and even a few from out of state. There are always quite a few people in attendance that grew up here and moved away; many travel quite a long distance to attend the picnic and consider when it will take place when planning a visit back home to see family and friends. For many it’s a family tradition and that kinship is a key element in making the picnic a great place to go year after year,” said Axe
Axe is not shy about giving credit where credit is due concerning how the community pulls together as a whole to get the job done.
“It takes a lot of effort to plan, prepare, and run the picnic; we start planning at the first of the year and do it all ourselves from set-up to cleanup and I’m very proud of all those who willingly lend a hand,” said Axe. “It would not be such a success year after year without everyone’s help and I’m thankful for the community spirit that helps make that possible. We have a nice little town here and a lot of great people where everyone knows everyone else and we watch out for each other; that togetherness is reflected not only in day-to-day living but how the picnic is executed as well.”
Along with the Van Buren fire department and their family members others lending a hand at the picnic will include support from the Botkins and New Bremen Fire Departments along with support from the Kettlersville 4-H Club, and the Van Buren Ladies Auxiliary.
Axe also pointed out that while the picnic offers a chance to have fun, there is a more important side that might not get all the attention that it deserves.
“Technically the Firehouse, vehicles, and department are owned by Van Buren Township, but the training is on us. Also, providing and maintaining all the essential equipment needed to get the job done is the responsibility of our volunteer fire department; and that’s where the picnic helps. There are currently 35 certified members in our department, 10 of those are certified first responders in medical aid and it’s all up to us to come up with creative ways to acquire funding for training others and updating our equipment. Along with our annual gun raffle and picnic which are the only two fund-raising events, we work very hard to earn the money we need to provide a reliable source of service and protection for Kettlersville, Van Buren Township, all of Shelby County and the surrounding area,” Axe said. “We have used every penny of last year’s income; thanks to the picnic and some grant funding we have five new air-packs, got five more firefighters certified and replaced some of our firehose. The Anna Young Farmers also held a fundraiser to help us fund a grain-bin rescue team.”
Axe pointed out the picnic does not just benefit Kettlersville alone.
“In 1998 we set up an Automatic Mutual Aid (AMA) system whereby we joined with Anna, Jackson Center, and Botkins. Our main focus is local, but we help and get help from the rest of our county and a few departments in Auglaize County all of which automatically respond to alarms signaled for structure fires in our area; that benefits everyone. In that respect it’s nice that we all support each other’s events with our attendance to help defray the costs of purchasing new equipment,” Axe said. “Another benefit of that system and all the departments working together is the ability to share specialized equipment thereby not placing the burden of cost realized if we all tried to outfit our departments on an individual basis.”
Axe noted the department is still working to get the rest of the 14 additional new air-packs needed to outfit the firefighters in the department.
“At nearly $9,000 each, that adds up quickly ($126,000 for all) but compromising on the proper firefighting equipment in not an option when considering the risks especially when lives are on the line,” Axe said.
Axe continued in noting the importance of public support and the need for the community to rally together to help raise funds for the necessary Equipment, “I’m hoping this newspaper article, our signs and some word of mouth advertising will encourage those reading and hearing about it to consider coming to our picnic. Last year we responded to 108 emergency calls including assisting the EMS squad on all their runs; we want to be able to continue to provide the best service we can. There’s no doubt about the need to be prepared, and participating in our picnic is an investment in our safety and our future.”
Along with free games for the kids the picnic offers the following:
Chicken dinners which includes half a chicken, chips, coleslaw, and a dinner roll. Cost is $8.00. Starts at 4:30 p.m. and continues until chicken runs out.
• 5-8 p.m. Free Pony Rides (weather permitting)
• 3-11 p.m. Silent auction and raffle with lots of nice prizes
• 3 p.m. Cake Wheel and Ice Cream Booth- Van Buren Ladies Auxiliary
• 4-6 p.m. Life Flight Helicopter visit
• All day: Hamburger and Brat Stand / with beverages
• All day: French Fries provided by Kettlersville United Church of Christ.
• 6-9 p.m. Free Live Entertainment by the local band “Inside Out”
• Bingo beginning at 6 p.m. along with lots of other games under the tent.
Axe and a lot of other folks in and around Kettlersville are excited about July 21st. The Fireman’s Picnic is always well attended and the hope is that this year will be the best ever.
“Our picnic is always enjoyable, the only bad part is it always seems to end way too soon,” Axe said.