Modified Venango County Fair leaves fire departments
to find other ways to raise much needed money
This weekend the volunteer department is breaking out their fair menu during their monthly fundraising dinner. The menu was chosen on the heels of a decision not to participate in the Venango County Round-Up, this year's modified version of the Venango County 4-H Fair.
"That's one of our biggest fundraisers," Reno Volunteer Fire Department volunteer Bob McClintock said of the Venango County 4-H Fair. The department typically sets up a food stand along the main row between the Phillips Arena and the Kiwanis Bowl horse ring.
This year, the modified fair schedule and the health concerns cut down on the number of volunteers available so the department opted not to open it.
"It takes a lot of manpower... to cover all those shifts," McClintock said of the traditional 12-hour days at the fair.
In past years, the volunteers would forgo monthly dinners in July and August to focus on the fair. This year, to help fill the budgetary hole left, the department kept the monthly fundraisers in place.
"Due to Covid 19 we decided in the best interest to pull out of the fair this year. Now with that being said we know everyone was quite upset with that decision. So we met on Monday (August 10) and have decided to do a dinner with some of our fair favorites!" the department posted on its Facebook page.
Sunday's menu will feature items inspired by their traditional Venango County Fair food stand, including hot sausage and smoked pulled pork sandwiches, fresh cut french fries, and hot dogs. The meal will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the social hall as takeout only.
McClintock hopes turn out will be good. The fire department has few fundraising options right now.
"This virus has really affected what we can do," McClintock said.
"It's definitely become one of our major fundraisers," Larry Dunkerlly, fire company president said. The group was already forced to cancel their top fundraiser - a gun raffle, so his crew decided to give the fair a try despite the expectations of low attendance.
Regardless of money, the group was also compelled to participant because that's just what they do.
"It's more or less become a tradition," he said about the department's hoagie stand.
Dunkerly said volunteers were not an issue for them, describing their small squad as a close group. "That's one of the things I'm proud to say."
But half way through the week, sales were down significantly, something that will need to be addressed by hosting another fundraiser of sorts, he said at the time. "We knew that coming into it (the fair)," he said, undaunted by the low turnout.
Dunkerly notes the company's fish fry dinners have become more popular as of late and the group was hopeful.
"We're a volunteer fire department, every fundraiser is important," he said.
Follow the departments on Facebook to find out about future dinners and other fundraisers - Reno VFD and Utica Volunteer.
Story contributed by Jill Harry