BREMEN — For more than six decades, the Bremen Firemen’s Festival has been a staple of Marshall County and given people a snapshot of the best of what a small-town, summer festival can offer.
The event this year is Tuesday, July 2, through Saturday, July 6.
Local firemen who have managed the festival through the years have offered favorites like the parade, which kicks off the Bremen Firemen’s Festival every year with its menagerie of entrants.
Though the parade begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, people will be putting up their blankets or chairs the day before to stake claim to much-coveted positions along the route to watch the fanfare — which lasts more than an hour and consists of bands, floats, clowns, marching units, and of course, fire trucks.
The parade ends at Sunnyside Park where each year Bremen residents and visitors frequent the 30 to 40 food and craft vendors or ride what Luehrs’ Ideal Rides brings to evoke the carnival feel.
Some 10 to 12 rides and eight to 10 game tents annually offer several types of thrills and assigned days offer special deals.
However, unlike previous years, there will be no helicopter rides.
The fireworks display is another big draw for the festival and takes place this year Thursday, July 4 at 10:30 p.m. About 30 firemen work behind the scenes during the show, setting off the pyrotechnics or reloading the tubes with shells.
Bremen’s population of about 4,500 more than doubles for the annual pyrotechnics display.
Organizers estimate about 10,000 spectators take in the fireworks show each year.
The firemen also single-handedly work to please the masses with the offerings at their food tent. The tent will be located left of the girls softball diamond.
Festival-goers can enjoy meals or single portions of the firefighters’ beloved baked potatoes (loaded or unloaded), their famous steamed corn and pulled barbecue pork, and beverages and more to fill their stomachs.
Mike Czajkowski, who’s been a firefighter for eight years — and has been manning and managing the food tent for the last four — said he enjoys being behind the fundraiser that pleases the palates of the festival’s crowds.
The firefighters have got it down to something of a near-science.
Festival attendees will be gobbling it down as each year the fire department prepares and serves up nearly 300 pounds pounds of pulled pork sandwiches, 1,300 ears of Sweet Charlie’s corn, and about 1,000 potatoes.
Most of the vegetables are purchased locally from Woodie’s Supermarket but the recipe behind the mouth-watering pulled pork is a well-guarded secret.
The firemen’s food tent opens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and at 4 p.m. Thursday and Saturday.
Those with an unwavering strength in their arms can take part in the festival arm wrestling competition.
The event will be run by arm wrestling contest professionals Brandi Martin and Mike Grubbs.
Martin and Grubbs run many area contests, including matches during the Blueberry Festival. They will weigh-in each contestant from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday, July 6, to make sure they are in the correct categories.
The competition will be at 6 p.m.
Weight classes are divided as follows: 0 to 165, 166 to 187, 188 to 220, and 221 and higher for men 16 and older; 0 to 132, and 133 and higher for women 16 and older; and for right-handers only — girls and boys 15 years old and younger — weight divisions 0 to 50, 51 to 75, 76 to 100, and 101 and higher.
Contest rules for the double-elimination contest are strictly enforced.
Rules include: no clothing allowance; two minutes allowed for getting to the wrestling table; there is no jumping classes; only one class per arm and all arm wrestlers must sign a waiver to participate (parents must sign for their children 17 and younger).
If sand volleyball is your style then the Bremen High School Volleyball team will offer opportunity to watch or take part in friendly competition of sand, coed, quad volleyball.
A tournament will be held Saturday, July 6, with check-in at 7 a.m. The match will be at 8:30 a.m.
A favorite from last year returns this year. The cornhole tournament is back and begins Saturday, July 6, with sign-in from 5-5:45 p.m. The tossing will begin at 6 p.m.
Other events to take part in include:
– antique tractor pull on Friday, July 5, with weigh-in at 11:30 a.m.;
– free child photos and fingerprinting hosted by the Bremen Police Department reserves, 6 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday;
– the local Boy Scouts pancake and sausage breakfast, 7-10 a.m. Saturday;
– and Pulse FM will be airing live 5-7 p.m. Wednesday.
This year the girls softball league will also have a weeklong tournament. The age groups are girls 12 and under and 14 and under.
The Bremen Firemen’s Festival raffle will be drawn at 8 p.m. Saturday, so participants are advised to buy their tickets early.
Prizes offered this year include a gas grill, an Apple iPad Mini, customizable cornhole board and BP gas cards.
Eric Thornton, captain and training officer for the fire department, said he hopes it will be a good year.
“The biggest draw is probably the parade and the fireworks ... there’s a large crowd for the fireworks night,” Thornton said.
He also said the firemen eagerly anticipate the event each year.
“We look forward to it, being out in the public.”
A weekend that Marshall County looks forward to, the Bremen Firemen’s Festival offers several new and many returning attractions for the young and young at heart.