GILBERT, Pa. — A first-of-its-kind festival kicked off in Monroe County on Thursday night.
Four fire companies came together to throw the first ever West End Fireman’s Festival.
Typically, these four volunteer fire companies have an individual carnival. However, the four fire departments decided to work together because there are fewer volunteers and less funding these days.
The companies hosting this festival include Blue Ridge Hook and Ladder, West End, Kunkletown, and Polk Township volunteer fire companies.
“It’s a trying experience for us. It brings all of us firefighters together. We fight fire together to all the time it seems anymore, so we figured what’s a three-night fundraiser so we’ll try it and see how everything pans out,” Blue Ridge Hook and Ladder Fire Chief Leon Clapper said.
Once the three-day festival wraps up, each volunteer fire company is hoping to walk away with $15,000.
“It’s just a good feeling to give back to your community that protects you when you need it the most,” Tina Ferrara of Kunkeltown said.
There is plenty for families to do at the festival. There are fireman-themed rides, lots of food, live music, and games.
John Schriever is a retired firefighter. He brought his family to the festival because he knows how hard the grind is on volunteer companies these days.
“You just can’t be working and you can’t come out fundraising and go to school and everything else it’s just too much, especially the young people now they don’t have the time commitment,” Schriever said.
The West End Fireman’s Festival starts again Friday at 5:30 p.m. and goes until 9:30 p.m. The festival ends on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. when there will be fireworks.