The New Kingstown Fire Co. is celebrating 100 years in service this year, and Fire Chief Curtis Hall estimates that the fire company has held a festival in some form over the majority of those years.
“Since we were formed in 1912, there’s always been a festival,” Hall said. “The first festival was in the winter months, and that was a soup-type festival. That was used to raise money to buy the first fire engine and rent the first building. I can’t say for 100 years we’ve had a festival, but it’s pretty close.”
The fire company’s festivals have changed forms over the years. Even in his childhood, Hall remembers what the festivals were like and how big the current festival has gotten.
“It used to be two nights, and then it was three nights. Now it’s four days,” Hall said. “If we want to use carnival vendors, they don’t come out for two nights or three nights. We had to make the move to go to four nights, and we did that three or four years ago, or maybe more.”
Wednesday marks the first day of the four-day annual festival on the grounds of the fire company. The festival will start at 4 p.m. each night and conclude on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. with a fireworks display.
Along with the carnival rides, the fire company also plans on bringing its staple fundraiser – homemade food.
“We’ll have our home-cooked meals like we normally do,” Hall said. “We have the things that people expect from us. We’ll have our homemade chicken corn soup and ham and bean soup. We’ve become known for our home-cooked meals.”
Other food that residents can expect at the festival include chicken strips, sausage sandwiches, cheese steak sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, ice cream, cakes and pies.
In addition to all that food, Hall noted that the fire company also decided on doing something extra this year. After a number of suggestions from previous festival attendees, the fire company will offer a full menu that will differ each of the four nights.
“Some of the public asked for it,” Hall said. “We have a lot of people that go through our food line every day, and we wanted them to come out with a different meal each time.”
The fire company will start out Wednesday with a barbecue chicken dinner and continue on the week with a chicken and waffle platter on Thursday, a hot roast beef sandwich on Friday and a hot turkey sandwich on Saturday. Monroe Fire Co. will also offer pit beef sandwiches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
There will also be entertainment with Scott Donato’s Tractor Twang on Wednesday, Rumor Has It on Thursday, Laredo on Friday and Borderline on Saturday, as well as a number of games for prizes, which include stands from the fire company. There will also be air conditioned bingo, a petting zoo, hay ride, Kiddie Land, dime pitch, soda toss, small games of change and various raffles.
Out of all the various attractions, Hall emphasized the fact that many people will simply get to see others they haven’t met in a long time.
“It’s almost like a homecoming for some folk,” Hall said. “You have people coming in and walking around, and they end up meeting someone they haven’t seen since the last festival. They’ll stand around and start talking. That’s what usually makes this worth it for people.”
The festival also gives attendees a chance to give back to the fire company.
“Most people will never get to need our services, but this is a way that people can donate to their local fire company,” Hall said. “They know they can come out and have a good time while supporting fire companies.”
Hall added that area residents will find quite a few fire company festivals throughout the summer starting in June, with two more immediately following New Kingstown’s – the Penn Township fire company festival next week and the Lisburn Volunteer Fire Co. festival the week after that.
This year’s New Kingstown Fire Co. festival will use its proceeds to pay the payments on its new building.
The festival will be held at the fire company grounds at 277 N. Locust Point Road, and there is no admission fee to come onto the grounds for the event.
For more information, visit the fire company’s website at www.newkingstownfire.com.