KETTLERSVILLE — The 2019 Kettlersville-Van Buren Township Fireman’s Picnic is just around the corner. This is the 50th year for the annual event, one that offers something for everyone including free pony rides for the kids, lots of games and activities 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 20, at the Van Buren Township Firehouse at 8833 North St. in Kettlersville, Ohio and runs from 3 p.m. until midnight.
Former Fire Department Chief Charlie Axe is excited about the upcoming event one that he has participated in since childhood. Axe was the fire chief for 21 years and though much has changed, much has remained the same and he doesn’t ever see himself standing on the sidelines as far as helping to plan and execute the event even though he passed the torch of leadership to the new Fire Chief, Jim Cain.
“It’s hard to believe so many years have passed, I have a lot of fond memories associated with the fireman’s picnic and our department has a legacy of community service that is second to none,” Axe said. “I’m proud to be a part of that history.”
Though times have changed over the years in many ways the festive atmosphere is still a refuge from all the hustle and bustle of day to day living and offers picnic-goers a chance to relax and enjoy the simplistic nature of a summertime celebration in a small-town setting.
“We make some changes from year to year to make adjustments or improvements where needed but overall you could blink your eyes and not really tell one year from the next,” Axe said. “We pretty much keep things the same year after year because it works, and if it’s not broken why try to fix it. We have great food, great fun, and great interaction between families, friends, neighbors, and new-comers; it’s a great atmosphere that ends all too soon.”
Axe pointed out the obvious advantages of attending a smaller venue like being able to park very close to where the action is, lots of opportunities for the kids to participate in, and a variety of fun-filled activities and short waiting times for all offerings; everything moves along quickly and there is plenty of room for everyone to move about.
“I have attended this 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 for me and a lot of others. It’s a chance for people to get together and catch up on what’s been going on,” Axe said. “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 around 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. 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.”
As with last year, this year’s event will help raise money to purchase air packs that cost $9,000 each. The department does not just benefit Kettlersville alone but also benefits the Automatic Mutual Aid (AMA) set up between Kettlersville, Anna, Jackson Center and Botkins and several surrounding townships in the area. The fire department hopes to raise enough money to purchase at least one if not two new air packs.
“We are hoping people in our area will be mindful to come and contribute to this most worthy cause as there are two big local weddings taking place that same weekend so a lot of folks who normally come to the picnic will not be there,” said Axe. “Still, I’m optimistic as a lot of people living in and around Kettlersville contribute whether they are able to attend or not.
“We’re hoping a lot of folks from Anna, Jackson Center, Botkins and the surrounding neighborhood will come over and lend their support, I know a lot of folks come just for our chicken dinners which are always top-notch. All the money raised will be put to good use and we truly appreciate the level of support we receive year after year,” Axe said.
The schedule of events for this years’ picnic:
3 p.m., Cake wheel – kids corn pit
4 p.m, 4-H Booth, all kids games and activities
4:30 p.m., Chicken dinners begin
5 p.m., ICe cream booth – free pony rides until 8 p.m.
6 p.m., Live band– Bingo
Fried chicken dinners are $8 for half a chicken/coleslaw/chips and roll. Served while supplies last. Hamburger stand and drinks served all day until close.
There will be a silent auction until 10:30 p.m. for a trip to Kings Island, a metal red-line flag, and a religious item.
The Women’s Auxiliary will be selling raffle tickets for a trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The trip will take place from Oct. 10-14. Tickets will be sold all day and the drawing held at 11 p.m.
Organizers of this year’s event are promising another fun-filled picnic with lots of good food and entertainment.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.