Whether it was fire or rain, the elements could not put a damper on the Buckland Fireman’s Festival held Saturday in this village, northwest of Wapakoneta.
Firefighters with the Buckland Fire Department responded Friday night to Easy Campgrounds near St. Marys while setting the festival up. They had already been called out earlier Friday afternoon for a mutual aid call. They were again called on another fire run Saturday night.
Also, a brief rain downpour hit the festival for about 15 minutes, putting all events on hold briefly and chasing attendees under the tents and into the buildings.
The fire department’s 35 members are responsible for operating the festival and making sure the events of the festival run smoothly, so their limited resources were tested.
“We had a lot of people from the community step up and help,” Buckland Fire Chief and Event Chair Todd Vorhees said. “We only have 35 members so we couldn’t put this on without the help and support of the community.
A 5-kilometer run was held for the first time to kick off the festival at 9 a.m. Only 35 runners pre-registered, but word of mouth attracted 91 total runners for the first-time event.
“We were very happy with the numbers for the 5K,” Vorhees said. “It was a good turnout for the first year. Hopefully we can build on it.”
The corn hole tournament attracted 19 teams and the festival’s biggest draw, the T-102 Country Playoffs, attracted its normal large crowd. A total number of 347 chicken dinners were sold, as well as a lot of food in the food stand located at the fire department.
“I think the rain actually helped cool things off a little bit for us,” Vorhees said.
Rides and games were provided by Reichelderfer Rides and the Ladies Auxiliary provided the children’s tent. The inflatable slide and jump house were rented from True Value in Minster. The festival, which traditionally had been a two-day event, was cut to one day but didn’t seem to affect the funds generated for the fire department’s main annual fundraiser.
“You play the rain card when you have it for one day,” Vorhees said. “We were fortunate. Sure you have more people over two days but you also have more overhead. We have the costs of the tents and the entertainment.”
Vorhees called the festival was a huge success.