Volunteer company expands concession stand
MONTGOMERY – For nearly 125 years, the people of Montgomery have been fortunate to have their homes and businesses dutifully watched over by the Montgomery Volunteer Fire Company, which is almost as old as the town itself.
Montgomery was founded in 1887, and according to Joan Wheal Blank’s “Around Montgomery”, the Volunteer Fire Company was formed just five years later in 1892. Since the 1920s, the fire department has been holding a carnival every summer that has grown to become their biggest fundraiser.
The carnival ground concession stand owned by the Montgomery Volunteer Fire Company has been undergoing a major renovation in preparation for this year’s carnival. Fire Chief Brad Harding and his crew of firefighters have been hard at work. The massive undertaking will be completed before this year’s carnival. The building itself is sturdy and survived the notorious 1972 flood. Chief Harding reports that the project involves revamping the inside of the concession stand with new gas, sewer, and electric lines to make the kitchen area more user-friendly.
It typically takes between 15-25 people to keep the concession stand running smoothly during the carnival. The firefighters sell fries, hotdogs, hamburgers, sausage, chicken fingers, soda, and what is probably the most sought after carnival attraction pizza. When asked if he could divulge the fire company’s method to create their legendary pies, Chief Harding merely smiled and said the pizza recipe is a secret.
Outside of the concession stand, the canopy has been replaced with a much larger one to keep the long lines of hungry customers dry on rainy summer evenings, and to add more seating. In addition to selling food, the fire company operates several carnival games including a cake wheel, a dime pitch, a ticket rip, and the Junior Fire Fighters run a dunk tank. It typically takes six months of planning and hard work by several members of the fire company to coordinate the carnival each year.
In addition to the carnival, the fire company does various fundraisers throughout the year, including chicken barbeques, Hoffner’s sub sales, and a trap shoot at the Keystone Sportsmen’s Association in Muncy. The carnival also features rides and games provided by an outside company, and different local bands entertain every evening.
The concession stand renovation is no simple task. The project has been ongoing for two and a half years. Chief Harding reported that it all began to unfold when J.J. Magyar applied for a SEDA-COG grant. It was awarded after the fire department spent nearly three months doing surveys with town residents to show the community’s demonstrated financial need. The fire company has been able to save between $20,000 and $25,000 by doing as much as the labor as they can on their own, while the Williamsport firm J&M Construction is responsible for the rest of the work.
Although typically held in June shortly after the school year comes to a close, this year the carnival will be held from August 8th-13th.