by Alexandra Muto
The Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co.'s annual Field Days, a local Labor Day weekend favorite, returns this year with both new and improved offerings in honor of the fire company's 100th year of service.
The event will be held in Veterans Park on Saturday, Sept. 3, and Sunday, Sept. 4, from 1 p.m. to midnight and Monday, Sept 5, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (with the field opening at 1 p.m.).
The Field Days celebration has faced numerous troubles in past years, including cancellations and date changes. However, the event's success last year with a new ride sponsor, Hammerl Amusement Ride Company, allowed the Field Days committee and Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co. to arrange the festival for Labor Day weekend and revitalize the festival to make this year's program one of the most exciting yet.
"We put a lot more (effort) into the Field Days this year, trying to get back Labor Day weekend for this year's event," proudly observed Greg Robertson Sr., president of the Youngstown Fire Co.
Visitors will experience a blast from the past with the return of one of the festival's most cherished games, the Blanket Stand. Greg Quarantillo, chairman of the Field Days committee, said the Blanket Stand is "the game where you buy a ticket, spin a wheel and you win the prize (adjacent) to the number the wheel lands on."
The festival will debut two games sure to thrill visitors, "Madd Maxx" and an on-site Lasertron challenge. "Madd Maxx" is an interactive race car game and Lasertron will be an emulation of the popular laser tag game that originated in Buffalo.
Great customs continue with the Field Days' highly anticipated parade. According to Dave Truesdale, Town of Porter justice and parade chairman, floats confirmed to appear at the event include the Town of Porter Historical Society's horse-drawn surrey, the Youngstown Free Library's float, and Old Fort Niagara's fife and drum corps musketeers. Truesdale noted that the musketeer's show promises to be a spectacular performance. Paradegoers will also get to experience eclectic musical offerings, including confirmed performances by the Souls of the Tonawanda Clown Band, the Bergholz Band, and the MacKenzie Highlanders. High school groups also will have a chance to show their local spirit and display their musical talents, with marching bands performing, including the Niagara Falls High School's Wolverine Marching Band and the Mount St. Mary's Academy marching band.
Truesdale is excited to see these performances, which will likely help fill the void left by the retirement of many of the parade's past favorites. "Unfortunately, a lot of bands (that performed at the old Field Days) no longer exist. It's tough to find (such quality acts) to perform." However, Truesdale also believes a fresh new spirit will be added to the parade with special anniversary performances, such as the Town of Porter Historical Society's surrey, which will transport many senior members of the fire district in celebration. Truesdale and the parade committee's effort clearly reflect the importance of revamping the event for such an important year.
In addition to the spectacular hallmark celebrations, plenty of classic events will be improved to reflect 100 important years of Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co. service. The festival will once again host a beer tent, local bands, rides and food stands. However, both Quarantillo and Robertson noted that these events will be expanded this upcoming year. Five bands will play at the field and many more in the parade, a great deal more than previous years. And each day, to culminate such a landmark celebration, fireworks will be brought to the festival. As Quarantillo noted, "We are trying to make (the classic events) bigger and better to attract visitors."
Robertson continued, "We listened to a lot of requests and put a great deal of effort into coming back for the Labor Day weekend." The fair's beloved favorites will be amplified for a spectacular event that both brings back memories and creates new ones.
The Youngstown Fire Co. reports that ride matinees will be a part of this year's offerings, with a one-price ride pass, available for four hours of enjoyment at a price of $14. Pre-sale tickets, a great bargain for non-matinee times, are available at: Youngstown Village Diner, Youngstown; Rite Aid, Youngstown and Ransomville locations; Stevenson's Hardware, Ransomville; Greg's Pools, Lewiston; and Victoria's Family Hair Care, Youngstown.
The Field Days committee expects to attract the attention of locals who missed the event's classic setting, and are optimistic on the capability for the Field Days to continue for many years in the future, despite its prior issues. An anticipated great turnout will be a wonderful way for the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co. to celebrate such a landmark in the company, organizers say. As Robertson noted, "We hope the community comes out to support the fire company and celebrate our 100th year."
Schedule of events:
Saturday, Sept. 3
Sunday, Sept. 4
Monday, Sept. 5