Story and photos by Terry Duffy
The tents are up, a host of rides, vendors and concessions are going full tilt and thousands are enjoying another Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival.
As one can imagine, in their extensive planning, festival organizers the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston utilize the assistance of literally dozens if not hundreds of contributors in making the Niagara County Peach Festival the fantastic event that it is. Wide-ranging support covers virtually all the bases - from utility services to festival set-ups, transportation and parking needs, to hospitality, foods and beverages, banking and finances, to security, police and medical services, even toilet services and trash pickups. It's the type of planning, organization and support that mimics the running of a city.
One contributor has been a mainstay with Lewiston Kiwanis and the Peach Festival almost from the event's inception - the Lewiston-based Modern Corporation.
Incorporated in 1964 by the late Steve Washuta, a longtime Kiwanian, Modern had simple beginnings. It started out as a small, two-truck garbage pick-up and disposal operation operated by Washuta, intended as a means of expanding his seasonal paving business, while also providing a steady income for his family.
The business - thanks to Washuta's dedication and strong work ethic - grew locally at the onset as the area's industry and population did, and expanded dramatically in the decades that followed as the nation's waste disposal demands intensified.
Today, Modern ranks in a Waste News profile of waste disposal companies as the 20th largest waste-hauling company in the U.S. It's still privately owned and headquartered in Lewiston, and employs more than 500 people with operations in New York, Florida and Southern Ontario. Modern's services have grown to include waste management, landfilling, recycling, even hydroponics.
But Modern's growth over the years has never diminished the decades-old desire, begun by the elder Washuta and continued by his family, to help out. For the Lewiston Kiwanis and its Peach Festival, it has come in many forms.
Modern Vice President Robert Trunzo, a Lewiston Kiwanis member going on 28 years, related how Steve and his wife, Sonia, started out by assisting Lewiston Kiwanis in the mid-1960s. Each summer the couple would open their home and host pool parties for the Peach Queen contestants.
As his company grew, so did Washuta's interest in providing various forms of assistance to the Peach Festival - be it for trash pickups, moving and storing equipment, site maintenance and repair or helping with festival set-ups. "That was Steve's MO; he was that type of guy. He was always in the background," said Trunzo.
He pointed out that over the years, Modern, led by Washuta, took it upon its own initiative to assist Kiwanis Peach organizers, providing a variety of in-kind services, whenever needed, for the festival. Modern was key, for example, in helping prep the Artpark plateau area, furnishing donated materials and labor when the Peach Festival was forced to move to that location for a two-year stint as Academy Park was being renovated. Another year, when Academy Park was hit hard with heavy rains from the remnants of a hurricane, Modern pitched in with tons of wood chips and provided the equipment and manpower necessary to help make the park workable for the festival and its thousands of visitors.
And Modern continues its help today, providing Lewiston Kiwanis with such festival services - all in kind - as trash pickups, toilet and restroom operations, equipment movement and storage, trailer storage and even manpower.
It also contributes to the club with the Modern clambake, a popular event held each summer at Kiwanis Park. All proceeds from the event go straight to Lewiston Kiwanis.
"It's a tradition (of helping) started by Steve that continues to this day," said Trunzo.
As a proud recipient, the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston is certainly mindful of this.
"Modern has been wonderful to us over the years," Randy Gorzka, a past Kiwanis president, commented this week. Pointing to an assistance value that totals in the thousands of dollars, he added, "At times, I don't know how we would do it without them."
"Modern has been exceptional," added Jerry Wolfgang, Peach Festival advisory chairman. "We're lucky to have them."
It's something local residents and festival visitors should keep in mind as they visit the Academy Park setting this weekend and see, firsthand, what this Lewiston company does for its community.