by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Wheatfield Family Picnic is back again on Sunday, Aug. 24, at the town's Fairmount Park with its usual abundance of food, activities, animals, cars, community services and music.
A flag raising, picnic blessing, and the presentation of new Walmore Road signs honoring Spc. Alan Dikcis, killed in Afghanistan on March 5, 2010, is expected to begin at 10:45 a.m. The signs will be placed at the Niagara Falls Boulevard and Lockport Road ends of Walmore Road. Opening ceremonies will be followed by church services (Catholic, led by the Rev. Francis Weldgen, and Lutheran/Protestant, led by the Rev. Jonathon Haseley).
One change this year includes having the evening concert begin immediately after the other park activities end at 4 p.m., instead of 7 p.m. This year, the concert will be by Bout Time, a classic rock cover group, and refreshments will be available during the concert.
"I look forward to seeing a lot of people there having a good time," said John Donner, who leads a dedicated group of volunteers in organizing the picnic.
This is his first year as chairman, taking over from Mike Zarbo, who helped revive the picnic a few years ago after a lapse of several years. This year is considered the 36th annual picnic.
Most of the activities are old favorites, with a few new experimental changes.
"We really kind of fine tune it every year," Donner said. "We learn and hear suggestions from people in the community.
Bingo was a big hit with the seniors last year, so the games will be on again this year. Mount St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center will provide blood pressure testing.
The Rev. Dan Piazza, pastor of Niagara Alliance Church, also will be back, hoping for good weather and taking a seat in the dunk tank.
Donner said two big tents will be dedicated to kids' activities. Families will be able to enjoy a bounce house, petting zoo, birds of prey exhibit, a rock climbing wall, hayrides and more.
The car show, with its own dedicated sound system, will return featuring everything from very modern to old classic vehicles and offering trophies in a number of different categories.
Have a favorite car from television or the movies, maybe from "Transformers," "Blues Brothers," "Charlie's Angels" or "Herbie the Love Bug?" You might get to admire it in person at the Star Cars display.
Food, provided by various restaurants and local fundraising groups, will be on at noon. Find everything from souvlaki pitas from the Meeting Place Restaurant to Chiavetta's chicken dinners funding the Wheatfield Nitros.
First on the scene for all the fun on Sunday will be Cub Scouts from Pack 833. They will be camping out overnight Saturday at the park, enjoying a movie shown on the side of one of the buildings and a campfire.
The annual picnic is a true hometown affair.
The event will go on rain or shine at Fairmount, located at the corner of Stieg and Nash roads. For more information, go online at http://www.wheatfieldfamilypicnic.com/.
Dunk the Pastor is back. (photo by Walt Bissett)