Organizer: Street fair helps draw natives back home
The annual Pataskala Street Fair fundraiser has become more like a homecoming, organizers say.
"It's kind of like an annual homecoming in Pataskala," said Rex Johnson, secretary for the West Licking Firefighters Association, which organizes the fair. "People come home for it and a lot of high school classes schedule their reunion during that time."
This year's street fair begins Wednesday, Aug. 14, and ends Saturday, Aug. 17.
The firefighters association started the fair in 1947 as a way to fund the Pataskala Fire Department, which was manned by volunteers at that time, Johnson said.
"(The association) originally owned the fire department," he said. "It was private and volunteer then."
In 1982, Pataskala, Kirkersville and Reynoldsburg joined Etna, Harrison and Jersey townships to form the West Licking Joint Fire District, according to the district's website.
The fair and the association continued their work, providing funds for specialty equipment and other items the fire district needed but couldn't afford, Johnson said.
Last year's fair raised around $8,000, which helped the firefighters association equip a mobile support and rehabilitation unit for firefighters to use while working at an emergency scene.
Johnson said Support Unit 401 provides refreshments and shelter for the firefighters.
He said the association is in the process of establishing a second mobile support unit, Unit 402, which will have a restroom.
The association used $5,000 in grants from the Energy Cooperative in Licking County to purchase a trailer. The association spent $3,000 on the interior and is expected to spend another $8,000 to complete it.
Johnson said some of the funds from this year's street fair will help equip the second unit.
The fair includes rides, food vendors and booths operated by local businesses and nonprofit organizations, Johnson said.
He said entertainment is scheduled every day. The slate includes dance recitals featuring local students and the 30th year of the Little Miss Firecracker competition.
A full schedule of events is available online at pataskalastreetfair.org.
The fair is held on Main Street (state Route 310), which is closed all four days between Mill Street and the railroad tracks.
The fair will open at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14; at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15, and Friday, Aug. 16; a parade is scheduled at noon Saturday, Aug. 17.
Johnson said the festivities continue to 11 p.m. each night.
Detours are provided during the festivities, which attract an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 patrons daily, Johnson said.
Admission to the fair is free but a fee will be required for the rides, Johnson said.