by Susan Mikula Campbell
Wheatfield families definitely won't be able to complain about having nothing to do this weekend. All they need to do is head for Fairmount Park at Stieg and Nash roads for the Wheatfield Family Picnic.
Events start at dusk on Saturday, Aug. 20, with an outdoor showing of the movie, "Cars," complete with free popcorn provided by KeyBank. Families are encouraged to bring their blankets, lawn chairs and coolers to watch the movie shown on a large inflatable screen.
On Sunday, Aug. 21, the day starts with a flag-raising ceremony at 10:45 a.m., followed by two church services at 11 a.m. The Rev. Frances Weldgen will lead Catholic services in the large pavilion, while the Rev. Ronald Oravec leads Protestant services in the octagon pavilion.
Then, it's on to a day full of free activities, games, music (the Bergholz German Band plays at 12:30 p.m.) and a choice of foods, most sold as a fundraising effort by local groups. Most picnic activities will end by about 5 p.m., leading into the finale, a concert by 90 West from 6 to 9 p.m.
The picnic is in its 33rd year.
"We're trying to stick with tradition as much as we can, while also introducing new ideas," said Mike Zarbo, picnic committee chairman.
The live tigers from J&K Call of the Wild will be back this year, sponsored by M&T Bank. Try to scale the Niagara Climbing Club's rock wall for free. Get your blood pressure checked, watch a Niagara County Sheriff's Office K-9 demonstration, pet a greyhound. And there's lots more.
The Cub Scouts are offering a new fish bowl toss game.
Also new is a treasure hunt, sponsored by Niagara's Choice Federal Credit Union. Zarbo fondly remembers enjoying a similar game as a kid when his parents were members of the old camping club, the Niagara Nomads.
Kids will be invited to burrow through a 10-foot-by-10-foot box of sawdust to find special coins that can be traded in for prizes.
Last year, Niagara's Choice provided funding to purchase the tents for "Restaurant Alley" at the picnic, plus they provide manpower. "I would like to give them a special thank you for their outstanding contribution to the Family Picnic," Zarbo said. "They've stepped up both years and really done a tremendous amount to make this a success."
Wheatfield Physical Therapy also is one of the sponsors of this year's Wheatfield Family Picnic. "It's a little giving back to the community that's helped us grow," said Mark Milleville, co-owner.
Now 42, Milleville remembers going to the picnic when he was growing up in Wheatfield.
"We used to go to the church services and stay there for the day," he said, adding that he and his wife, Melissa, and their children Christian and Molly will be attending as a family this year.
Milleville enjoys the variety of activities available, such as the annual Wheels of Wheatfield car show, and "getting reacquainted with the people I used to hang out with." It's almost like a family reunion for him because there are so many Millevilles in the town. "I think I'm related to half the people in Wheatfield," he said.