Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association to celebrate 100 years with Field Days
In 1908, the Young Men’s Association of Bowmansville purchased a building on Genesee Street that was moved to its current location, 36 Main St., and remodeled it into a community center. When the Young Men’s Association dissolved, Mr. H. Schweinsburg, president, proposed a motion to start a fire company. All 35 men present agreed and the Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association was founded in 1912.
“They started fire protection because there wasn’t any,” Fire Chief Tom Trzepacz said.
But shortly after, the fire association needed to purchase equipment.
The first fire engine was a horse drawn chemical cart, Trzepacz explained. Now the department owns two rescue pumpers, one ladder truck, three rescue trucks, and three utility vehicles.
“We’ve come a long way,” Trzepacz said. “Years ago the BVFA also covered the districts of Clarence, Harris Hill, and Cheektowaga to the airport because at that time those fire departments weren’t formed yet.”
The term “field days” comes from the three-day picnic the fire company held in 1915 to fund the fire companies and pay for the first engine, Molly Prell, field days chairperson, explained.
“That’s why we went with that title, a Bowmansville tradition from a long time ago,” she said.
From 1912 to 1962, “rain dates” were always set as a precaution, but rarely used. One year three “rain dates” were used as well as the original date.
“Every time we would run a fund-raising event it would rain no matter what we did,” Trzepacz joked.
These instances gave way to the people of the reservation giving the BVFA their current nickname, “The Rainmakers.” The Indian mascot is also symbolic to that relationship with the reservation, Trzepacz explained.
“There’s a lot of pride in the BVFA and honoring the history is important to a lot of people, Prell said.
The fireman’s parade will be the main attraction at 1 p.m. Saturday and includes all the fire departments in the Erie County area and beyond.
“People are coming from pretty far away,” Prell exclaimed.
Local civic organizations, local churches and Scouts will also be marching starting from Pleasant View Drive, making their way down Stutzman Road to Genesee Street and onto Main Street to end at the fire hall.
“It’s just special to have them here with us to help celebrate,” Prell said. “To have them happy to come means a lot to us.”
Festival-goers can also enjoy a chicken barbeque at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, as well as other food, drinks, rides, and games. A 50/50 split raffle with a minimum cash prize of $1,000 will be drawn at 10 p.m. Saturday. Live music will feature The Carnival Kids Steel Orchestra, High Horse, and Hit n Run.
“We’re trying to remember where we came from and what we do as far as protecting the community,” Trzepacz said. “We’re trying to get back to core values, back when we didn’t have a lot and couldn’t do a lot. Now we are very fortunate with the help of the town and residents. We’re giving back to the reason we all joined the fire department; to help the neighborhood and community.”
The festival runs from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and 12:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.bvfa.com.