Custer community picnic, true Americana

July 18, 2012

Story & Photos by Rob Alway, Editor

CUSTER – Can you get much more Americana than a small town picnic in the middle of the street? There isn’t even a need to put up barricades here in Custer. People just know better. Every year for the past 20-some years the Custer Fire Department has held its community picnic at the corner of Main and Second streets.

Folks ate hot dogs and bratwursts from Sanders Meats and caught up with each other. They have names such as Reader, Smith, Lundquist, Crawford, Allison, Baker, Sanders, Howe, Reeds and McVicker, amongst others. They are generations of residents from the central eastern part of our county.

Though they had just returned from fighting a fire an hour earlier, the firefighters are happy to cook and serve the food. It’s a simple menu of dogs and brats and some chips. Other firefighters play baseball with the kids in the ball field. This is what volunteer firefighters do. They serve, whether it’s fighting a fire or just helping in the community.

“We started this about 20 years ago as a way to say thank you to the communities we serve,” said veteran firefighter Orval Smith. People from Custer Township, Custer village and Eden Township are invited, and whoever wants to come, Smith said.

“Custer is truly the definition of what is great about small town America,” said Dan Reinoehl, a village trustee. “You know you’re neighbor and people just watch out for one another.”

“Look around you, this is it. This is what small towns are all about,” said Fire Chief John Allison. “Everybody comes out here and just has a good time. It’s one of the only chances that people get to meet their fire department in a non-emergency setting.”

After a quick presentation of badges to the new department members, the kids ran into the field for the grand finale: getting soaked by the deluge gun from the fire engine.

Yep, this is small town living at its best. Great job Custer Fire Department, you know how to do it right.

Legally Speaking: Consent to search

Betten Baker Ford

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