LOCKPORT-The sizzle of hot sausages crackled as Mike Fetzer, president and captain of the Dunnstown Fire Co., grilled them in the hot evening sun at last night's 17th Annual Riverfest fundraiser.
As he flipped the red and green peppers roasting on the grill, he told of his experiences with the all-volunteer fire company.
"I'm 41, and I've been around (the company) since I was 14," he said. He's also a part-time Lock Haven EMS driver.
Mike Fetzer and his sister, Leslie Fetzer, serve hot sausages at last night’s Riverfest at Lockport Launch Park.
Born and raised in Avis, he was afraid of fireworks when he was young. To stem that fear, his mom took him to the Avis Fire Co. and fire chief Max Geist showed him all the fire engines and equipment.
"From that moment on, I was hooked," he said.
He's been president and captain for 15 years, now. After he started with the company, his sister and brother followed in his footsteps. His sister, Leslie Fetzer, is the assistant financial secretary for the company, and his brother is president of Good Will Ambulance.
Just last week, his daughter Erin, at 14, became a junior member of the company. She helps out with their fundraising events.
"I just liked what I saw at the different events," she said. "Everybody coming together and helping."
Though being a firefighter entails some hot situations, Mike wouldn't do anything else.
"You have rough times, and you say you're gonna quit, but you don't. I have no intentions of going anywhere," he said.
Volunteering for the company also teaches teamwork.
"It's about sticking together....It's bonding for the volunteers," he explained.
He's also grateful for their spouses, and their understanding.
"If I get up from a family Christmas dinner, she understands," Mike said.
Volunteers are desperately needed at the company, and nationwide, he said.
"Even if fighting fires isn't for you, there's something for everybody to do," whether it's administrative or volunteering at events like the Riverfest, he said.
Every year at the Riverfest, the company serves hot sausage, pizza, hot dogs, ham bar-b-que and more. (I tried the bar-b-que, and it was delicious. The sauce is just tangy enough to be tantalizing without being overbearing.)
One of their customers was 77-year-old Dorothy Muthler-and it was her father, Tom Aikey, that helped start the Dunnstown Fire Co. when he joined in 1949. Tom worked at the Paper Mill, but spent most of his time with the company, she said. She too has helped the company, but with dinners and fundraisers.
It was a sad day for her when her dad died in May 1972. He was buried in the Dunnstown Cemetery, and fire engines blared their alarms in his honor. She thinks they put his casket on a fire truck, too.
He just missed the '72 Flood, "but he would've been there," she smiled.
"He's really missed," Dorothy said.
Now, she comes to the company's fundraisers to support them. After a bit, Leslie brought out Dorothy's pizza and other goodies, and walked her to the car. As Dorothy's voice faded down the path, she could still be heard reminiscing about her dad and his beloved fire company.
Many other vendors set up shop at the Riverfest. One was Help For Pets, based in Clinton County, which has a Hardship Emergency Loan program at zero percent interest.
"It's so pet owners don't have to euthanize their pets" if they can't afford the medical bill, explained volunteer Terri Stines.
As of dinnertime last night, they'd helped nine clients.
Karissa Lucas, 12, of Mill Hall, designed the t-shirts sold at their booth at Riverfest. She entered a contest and was chosen to do the design work. She has two dogs, Lexi who's a Westie, and Wynn, a Yorkie.
"I thought it'd be cool" to do the shirts, she said. They're also selling super-soft slipper socks, dog treats, and leashes at their booth this weekend.
Help For Pets is all volunteer based and was created a year ago. For more information, go to their website at www.help4petspa.org.
Perhaps the most mouth-watering shop was the Fudge Lady's. Barbara Clark has been creating her own delicious fudge recipes since the 1960s-and sells her tasty creations at the Riverfest annually.
Her top three favorite are Sinfully Delicious, Kremesickle, and Chocolate Black Walnut.
Sinfully Delicious is an incredible meeting of chocolate and coconut. If you're thinking Mounds, you haven't reached the edge of decadent. It melts in the mouth in its sugary goodness, an incredibly moist delight.
Barbara makes all the fudge herself based out of her home in Linden. It all started when she was working at Arrow Shirts factory and a woman walked in with a pan of fudge.
"If she could do it, I can do it, I thought," Barbara said.
From then on, she was the Fudge Lady.
Now, she wants to sell the business due to health problems. "I hate to sell it, but my health comes first," she said. Call (570) 398-7246 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Her website is www.ladyfudge.com.
The Riverfest's proceeds benefit family recreation in Woodward Township, including maintenance and improvement of the launch park and Riverview Park.
Riverfest started 17 years ago with the Dunnstown Fire Co. and four vendors at the festival, Marie Selfe, a township supervisor and Riverfest co-chairperson, said.
Riverfest runs today through Saturday, July 13 and 14, at Lockport Launch Park along Route 664. It opens at 5 p.m. this evening and late morning Saturday, July 14.
The Duck Derby is the primary fundraiser; ducks bought for $5 float downriver, and the first 100 to cross a finish line win prizes, 5 p.m. July 15. The grand prize is $1,000 cash.
Schedule of events:
Today, July 13
- Flashback band plays music from 1960s and beyond tonight.
Saturday, July 14
- Cardboard Boat Race at noon (Call 570-748-6871 to register)
- Shot in the Dark band plays 6:30 to 10 p.m.
- Fireworks, 10 p.m.
Sunday, July 15
- The Duck Derby, 5 p.m.