As cherries are making their way into farm fruit stands, area residents’ pies and fruit salads, young and old eagerly anticipate the 65th Annual Firemen’s Cherry Festival from Tuesday, July 13 to Saturday, July 17 at Heard Park, one block North on Lake Street (Rt. 89) off Main Street (Rt.20) in North East.
Admission and parking is free so festival-goers can enjoy the delicious food and attractions Tuesday thru Friday from 5:30 p.m. to Firemen’s Closing, and Saturday, noon to Firemen’s Closing.
Since 1945, the Cherry Festival has been the North East Volunteer Fire Department’s biggest fundraiser and community event.
“We don’t do chicken barbeques, gun raffles or other fundraising events that other volunteer fire departments do throughout the year, so this is our most important event,” said Gary Jones, festival chairman.
Jones said 100 percent of the funds generated at Cherry Festival booths will benefit the North East firemen.
“These booths will have the three cherry logo, designating them as fundraising booths,” said Jones.
All purchases or donations made at the bingo, Ladies Auxiliary, cotton candy, popcorn, chuck-a-luck, pill game, sausage, fry barn and baked good booths will directly benefit the NEFD in its pursuit of maintaining a high level of protection and skilled emergency medical service.
Jones said Midway Rides of Utica will be bringing new amusement rides this year and an enclosed area, Kiddie Land, will be provided for children’s rides.
In order to make rides more affordable for families, nightly Ride-A-Rama packages will be available along with two Ride-A-Rama sessions on Saturday. Pre- sale Ride-A-Rama tickets are $13, on the grounds for $16, and ride tickets are $1 each or 20 for $15. Ride-A-Rama extends Tuesday thru Friday from 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m.
Other highlights of the Cherry Festival include the crowning of the 2010 Cherry Queen on Thursday, July 15 at 6 p.m. on the Heard Park bandstand and the firemen’s parade on Saturday, July 17 at 4 p.m. on Main Street.
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In addition to the rides, entertainment and food, the North East Firemen will be raffling off $10,200 in cash drawings. Each raffle ticket can be purchased for $1.00. Funds from the ticket sales are used to purchase new equipment, gear, and fuel for fire department vehicles as well as help offset the costs associated with firefighter and EMS (Emergency Medical Service) training.
According to the NEFD, in 2009, volunteers answered 1336 calls including 1059 EMS; 106 motor vehicle accidents 46 brush, vehicle or structure fires; 56 responses to automatic alarms and 69 other calls.
The North East Fire Department is dedicated to serving the community and is grateful for any support.
For more information on the Cherry Festival, call (814) 725-5616 or visit www.necherryfestival.com.