by Susan Mikula Campbell
The place for Wheatfield families to be this weekend is Fairmount Park. After a year's hiatus, the Wheatfield Family Picnic is back on Saturday, Aug. 28.
The 32nd version of the event was brought back to life by Wheatfield resident Mike Zarbo and his hardworking committee of volunteers.
The opening ceremony begins at noon with a flag raising by the Wheatfield American Legion Post and the Young Marines, as well as the Pledge of Allegiance lead by Cub Scout Pack 833.
"All of the revenue to make this come about was provided by the generous contributions of our sponsors, and because of this we will have another fun-filled summer day packed with everything from bands and DJs to movies and ponies," Zarbo said.
Among the many donors was Niagara's Choice Federal Credit Union. Sharon DiPasquale, manager of the branch on Sawyer Drive and a Wheatfield resident, volunteered to be treasurer of the 12-member picnic committee. She also convinced her company to make a sizable donation to purchase shelter tents for the vendors at the picnic that will be used for years to come.
"We hope to continue the previous tradition that the families of Wheatfield will be able to come out and enjoy the day," she said.
DiPasquale said the committee has made it possible for a variety of free, family-oriented activities to be offered throughout the day, right up to the showing of "Finding Nemo" as a "walk-in" movie immediately following the 6 to 9 p.m. concert by the Music Krew. Residents are advised to bring lawn chairs, blankets and bug spray to watch the movie on a huge screen with a great sound system.
Although the town is no longer sponsoring the picnic, the Town Board on Monday did approve Recreation Director Ed Sturgeon's request to spend up to $1,500 to provide pony rides, arts and crafts materials, plus two tents for his recreation activities.
The picnic will have plenty to do for both adults and children, Zarbo said.
The KidsFest includes a goldfish toss by Pack 833, balloon art, crafts, a bubble pool and more games from the Wheatfield Youth Committee. There will be pony rides from Lakeview Farms and hay rides every half hour.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Office, featuring Zeus and Gino, will present their K-9 demonstration at 2:30 p.m. The Sheriff's Office will conduct children's ID program in the recreation building. Here the child will be fingerprinted and essential information will be recorded on a national computerized journal and parents will receive an identification card the same day. The Sheriff's DARE program also will be on site.
The Wheatfield Town Constables will be in the Octagon Pavilion talking about gun safety and handing out childproof gunlock safety devices.
The Octagon Pavilion also will be home to artifacts from the Historical Society of North German Settlements, as well as from the town historian.
A zoo of domestic and wild animals will delight all ages. This year sees the return of Wild Kritters, and the Greyhound Adoption Agency. JNK Call of the Wild, featuring live Siberian tigers and educational material, will erect their cages for the day.
Jim Candella of Candella's Landscaping is heading up what will be the sixth Wheels of Wheatfield car show connected with the picnic. On display will be classic cars from 1985 and older.
Candella is planning to start the classic car registration with his own 1967 Plymouth GTX and his 1965 Chevy short-bed pickup, while his son will bring a 1947 half-ton Dodge pickup (similar to a street rod).
Candella owns seven classic cars. "They bring a piece of the old nostalgia back," he said.
Those wanting to display their own pieces of nostalgia are reminded that registration starts at 11 a.m. at the Stieg Road entrance of Fairmount Park. A $5 registration fee is being collected this year, with the first 100 entries receiving a Wheels of Wheatfield magnetic plaque. For more registration information, contact Candella at 731-4004.
Judging of various classes will take place to determine the trophy winners of the different classes. The public also may vote for the "Best of Show." Trophies and door prizes will be awarded at 3 p.m.
Bring an appetite for variety a tantalizing food being sold in Restaurant Alley. Some presentations include: Bergholz Fire Co. -- chicken chowder; Boy Scout Troop 833 of Adams Fire Co. -- french fries; Boulevard BBQ -- pulled pork and smoked chorizo; Club House Family Restaurant -- hamburgers, Italian sausage, peppers and onions, waffles and strawberries; Christ the King Academy -- snow cones; Wheatfield Democratic Club -- hot dogs; Wheatfield Lion's Club -- soda and bottled water; Meeting Place Restaurant -- chicken and beef souvlaki, gyro sandwiches; Papa Joe's -- pizza; Wheatfield Republican Club -- roast beef, corn on the cob: and the Wheatfield Cheerleaders -- Chiavetta's chicken dinner.
Musical entertainment during the picnic will include the Bergholz German Band, Music Krew, and Sterling Sound.
The Wheatfield Cheerleaders return with a Chinese auction. Dental Care Associates and Summit Pharmacy are providing free blood pressure screenings and several health care agencies will be in the Health Care tent.
Zarbo, a member of the Buffalo Fire Department and Wheatfield's Adams Volunteer Fire Co., said he was very glad he volunteered to head up the picnic committee.
"I got to meet some great people who are very community-minded. Without their help, this wouldn't be possible," he said. "The 32nd Wheatfield Family Picnic guarantees to have something for everyone, young and old alike. We hope to see you there!"