Saturday afternoon, to the delight of more than 100 people, hosted its first-ever harvest festival. There were dunking booths, hamburgers and hot dogs, fire truck rides, pumpkin painting and even a brief appearance by Rep. Joe Courtney, among other activities.
“What a tremendous turnout here,” Oswegatchie Chief Mark Schenking said. “This really came together well.”
Families came to the free event and were brought through a variety of stations. Most popular was the arts and crafts upstairs, and a smoke room in the basement, where firemen showed children what to do in a fire.
“You want to stay low,” Firefighter Jim Schenking said. “And the last thing you want to do is hide. If you hide, we won’t be able to find you.”
This was the first harvest festival, although event organizer Heidi Pafias wants to turn it into an annual event. The event kicked off Fire Prevention Week, and along with the smoke room, firefighters gave a demonstration on how to use a fire extinguisher.
“We just held it to let people know we are still here,” Deputy Chief Rocco Bracciale said. “A lot of people don’t realize we are still largely a volunteer department. We only have one paid guy here.”
Later this week, Oswegatchie firefighters will go to Oswegatchie Elementary School, and show the students how to stay safe in a fire, Mark Schenking said.
While the event was a great time, there are some serious issues at Oswegatchie, Schenking said. The roof of the firehouse is in bad shape, with many of the rafters split, and needs repair, he said.
The fire company already spent more than $50,000 just to stabilize the roof, although it still needs work, Schenking said. The question is if you keep repairing an 80-year-old building, or get a new building, he said.
First Selectman Dan Steward, who was also at the event, said that would be an issue the town has to examine. It gets to a point where it becomes more expensive to continue to fix the building then to build a new one, Steward said.
Either way, there isn’t any money right now to fix the roof, Steward said. So, the fire company is looking to pursue grants, and is talking with Courtney to help get federal money, Schenking said.