Fountain ball coming up April 13

March 28, 2019

It’s a big change for a big event for the Fountain Area Fire Department, but it’s time to get ready for the firemen’s ball.

The ball has traditionally been hosted on Memorial Day weekend. This year, it will be April 13 at Sherman Township Hall.

“Our numbers have been down the last few years,” said Shirley Chancellor, who is the secretary of the Fountain Area Fire Department and its safety officer. “Everyone comes to the horse pull, and they go home to rest. … We put a lot of money into (the ball). We have a luncheon, and the bands are expensive.

“We figured, let’s try and do it a little earlier to get a little more participation.”

Chancellor said that in the past, many of those who were opening up their cabins and cottages on the nearby lakes would take in the ball too.

“We get a lot of those folks, and they bring up people. We used to be packed,” she said. “The last couple of years, it hasn’t been that way.”

The move of the firemen’s ball to April 13 was not something that was considered lightly. Chancellor said declining attendance for the past few years led to the decision. The tradition of having 70 years of firemen’s balls on Memorial Day weekend wasn’t lost on the department.

“It was very difficult to make that decision because of the tradition. We hate to break the tradition,” she said. “All the lake people come up Memorial Day weekend, and it was kind of a thing. With recent years, they’ve been hanging around the lake. If it’s hot at the horse pull, they’ll go back and swim or relax at the lake.

“We’ll try it and see how it goes.”

The firemen’s ball has been one of the chief fundraisers for the Fountain Area Fire Department. It has also hosted bratwurst stands during some of the events in the village, including having one during the horse pull. The costs of the ball have also gone up, Chancellor said, noting that the costs of permits, the food and more have increased.

The cost to attend the ball was $5 for a long time. It is $10 per person this year, and Chancellor said that’s a bargain price for the entertainment value.

“Where can you go for a luncheon and a band (for $10)? We’ve had to increase it the last few years,” Chancellor said. “I remember when it was $5. Ten dollars is still pretty good.”

The band that will be performing at this year’s ball at the Sherman Township Hall is called Onager. Chancellor said Onager plays some country and rock songs, and they’re a good band to have.

“They played for Carr’s firemen’s ball,” she said. “They played the auxiliary’s bowhunters’ ball. They have a pretty good time. They make it fun.”

Chancellor said the firemen’s ball is the effort of many in and around the Fountain Area Fire Department. They’re hoping the change in the date will help boost attendance for the event, which will be in its 71st year.