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Submitted photo Apparatus owned by the West Brooklyn Fire Department will anchor the fire apparatus, farm tractor and semi-tractor show planned as part of the village’s first annual Brooklyn Fest on Saturday, July 20. The apparatus includes hose carts from 1903, a 1911 ladder cart and a working fire truck purchased in 1936. The department also owns a 2013 model water tanker truck. Both new and old apparatus from area departments and private collectors are welcome at the show which begins at 10 a.m. The show is part of a variety of events planned throughout the day to help raise funds for a downtown restoration project.
WEST BROOKLYN — The first Brooklyn Fest will hit the streets and parks of West Brooklyn on Saturday, July 20 as a fundraiser for the village’s downtown restoration project.
After seeing several historic buildings torn down, the village board in 2011 began making plans to purchase and renovate what remained of the once bustling business district in this small Lee County town north of Mendota.
The idea of buying and restoring the remaining buildings resulted in a committee that set about finding ways to fund the restoration.
Mary Gehant, a member of the committee, said residents have been enthusiastic in planning and preparing for the upcoming festival. The only problem has been finding enough volunteers in a town that boasts 142 residents according to the 2010 survey.
“Our biggest challenge is finding enough volunteers to run every event,” she said.
But attendance is not one of the things organizers are very worried about. Gehant said many people will remember the village’s street dances that remained popular into the 1980s and this first annual festival will include that tradition with a beer garden and the band Road Angel to close out the day-long festival.
New events for the village’s first festival start with a pancake breakfast at St. Mary’s Church from 7-11 a.m. followed by a fun run and walk at 8 a.m.
A craft show opens at 9 a.m. and children’s games and fun in the park starts at 10 a.m. Gehant said the games in the park will include modern bounce houses along with old-fashioned potato sack races.
“There will be a lot of stuff for kids of all ages,” she said.
A fire apparatus, farm tractor and semi-tractor show also opens at 10 a.m. There is no entry fee or admission fee so Erik Bodmer isn’t sure how many entries the village will have. “We don’t know if we’re going to have 20 or 50 trucks,” Bodmer said. “A lot of people don’t want to commit until the day of the show.”
He said the West Brooklyn Fire Department has plenty of antique fire equipment that will anchor the show and he hopes other area departments will bring both new and old equipment for the show.
“We hope to have a good turnout,” Bodmer said. He is coordinating the show along with Mike Burkardt.
Members of the fire department also plan to keep the grills going during the day with plenty of bratwurst, pork chops and other foods available during the day-long festival. Along with the show, the village will have a silent auction from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Gehant said the committee has received numerous pledges toward the auction and hopes even more items will be available as the day of the festival approaches.
A bags tournament will be 3-7 p.m. with no pre-registration required.
The street dance and beer garden then close out the day.
Events are either free or have a small fee. Gehant said they wanted to make sure everybody could have a good time without spending a lot of money.
If successful, the committee hopes to not only offer it on the third Saturday in July every year, but to possibly even make it a weekend event.
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