Last year Garner’s Firemen’s Day set records and achieved a statewide accolade. This year’s event set for Saturday is expected to be bigger.
The band 40 East will perform at the annual event featuring a controlled burn, games, food and other activities for kids and parents. The fundraising event will attempt to top last year, when it generated $10,000 for the Jaycee Burn Center, a contribution that earned it the Traveling Fire Bucket Award for largest contribution by a fire department on a per-capita basis.
A record 32 vendors will set up shop at the event, up from 27 last year. The firefighters of Garner Volunteer Fire and Rescue will begin selling barbecue at 11 a.m. and a raffle will conclude festivities at 7 p.m., all at the downtown station at Benson Road and Main Street.
“The biggest reason for the event is to open our doors to the community in Garner, to allow people to come in to an open house event,” said Deputy Fire Chief Tim Herman, who heads planning for the event.
The annual parade starts at 2 p.m. and will travel from the intersection of Benson and Garner roads down Garner Road to New Rand Road before turning back toward the fire station along Main Street.
At 3 p.m. firefighters will stage a controlled burn in which a cell the size of a room will be set on fire and put out. The department hopes to demonstrate, especially to children, how quickly fire can spread and how dangerous it can be, according to Capt. Bud Davenport. There will also be exhibits on fire prevention, calling 911 and “stop drop and roll” for children.
The Garner Revitalization Association tossed Garner Fire a bonus when it moved 40 East’s show into the event after a rain out of its own. The band will take the stage at 3:30 p.m. Initially the band had been scheduled for May 29 for the GRA’s Downtown Sounds concert series but that performance was canceled because of weather.
The day will conclude with a raffle with a grand prize of $10,000. Tickets will be sold in advance at any fire station as well as all day all day for $5 each.
Last year’s Firemen’s Day started strong but tapered off a bit late in the day due to unseasonable heat. This year, a week before the event, forecasts called for no rain nor any temperatures above 77.
The event initially started in the 1950s (Davenport said no one knows exactly when) as a way to raise operating funds for the all-volunteer fire department. Since the department has grown and professionalized, most of the money raised now can be donated to the burn center.