Fort Plain celebrates Independence Day at the start of the 4th to the 3rd

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FORT PLAIN – 4th On The 3rd survived many disasters to bounce back even stronger.

Over the past decade, the ever-expanding festival – held every year on the eve of July 4 at Wiles Park – has triumphed over a flood, a tornado and now a pandemic.

In 2013, the event’s sponsoring group, the Fort Plain Community Activity Council, made the difficult decision to host the event despite a flood that ravaged the village less than a week earlier. As people clean up and recover again, event chair James Katovich said the ACPF felt the community needed – and deserved – a moment of respite and celebration.

The following year, a tornado swept through the festival without warning, overturning tents and sending those present to scramble to take refuge under the Wiles Park pavilion. As the tornado swiftly moved back and forth, the devastation was significant enough to negate the remainder of that year’s event.

In the face of a rapidly spreading pandemic, last year’s rally was the first to be called off altogether.

As planning for the 4th to 3rd takes months – and organizers unsure of what the local COVID-19 situation would be on July 4 – the 12 event planners scheduled vendors and entertainment while playing it. ear, constantly staying informed of new state regulations and flashbacks.

For example, President Ron Dievendorf and Co-Chair James Katovich (responsible for organizing 4th to 3rd for the final year) said they were unsure if the celebration would have bouncy houses this year – a major attraction for young people. participants – until a state ruling authorizing such entertainment was issued just two weeks ago.

Then, a week ago, the event’s main performers, the True Grit Outlaws – a favorite local band that perform various summer shows each year – canceled, citing their disbandment.

With the major absence looming, “Spike and the Boys were very good to replace,” said Katovich, noting that the equally beloved locally group would now occupy the main event slot, ahead of the fireworks display.

Katovich explained that “it has been very difficult to find volunteers this year”. With the event taking place over the weekend, “A lot of people are coming out of town,” he said. “It’s the first big weekend they’ve been able to get away from it all and socialize.”

“But, he said on Saturday afternoon, the volunteers we have are doing an excellent job!

Operating the 4th to 3rd each year requires the help of around 150 volunteers, 34 of whom take care of the barrel training on their own throughout the event, while others help cook, park cars and crowd control.

The event co-chairs noted that, despite the pre-event hiccups, 4th On The 3rd performed better than usual on Saturday. Dievendorf said by mid-afternoon that there had been “no problem on the day of”. Katovich and Dievendorf attributed the smooth running of this year’s event to contributions from “seasoned co-chairs”, who Katovich said “know what to expect and what to expect”.

4th On The 3rd has grown exponentially since its inception, with Katovitch explaining that over the past 20 years, he has acted as chairman or co-chairman, his budget has grown from $ 3,000 to $ 22,000. Saturday’s fireworks alone cost $ 7,700.

“We’re trying to make everyone understand how much this thing costs,” Katovich said. “And, I think it works to our advantage, because people are willing to contribute $ 5 or $ 10 knowing it costs so much.”

Katovitch and Dievendorf were delighted on Saturday to find that the decision to make available a digital donation option was proving successful.

The donors have been incredibly supportive over the years, said Katovitch, explaining of 4th On The 3rd, “It’s all about getting people to work together. We almost never had a refusal from the people we spoke to. When help is requested, whether it be volunteering, services or goods, “people are more than willing to help.”

Dievendorf said that when he took over as chair of the event in 2018, he worked to attract more participants from neighboring communities, such as his nearby hometown of Canajoharie. As such, the overall motto of the event has changed from “bringing our community together” to “bringing our communities together”.

Fort Plain Mayor Mark Nearbin said it was “great” to see everyone having fun on Saturday. “We haven’t been able to do something like this for quite a while, so it’s good that the restrictions have been lifted,” he commented.

“It’s a big event for this community, and it’s great to see that we can still get together and have a good time,” especially after so many separations and hardships.

While tending to the constantly busy children’s section on Saturday, volunteer April Johnson agreed. “It’s great to see the kids come out.”

Johnson explained that the only major difference from the three previous meetings before Independence Day where she had worked were the mild temperatures on Saturday, which she was grateful for. “The last two times,” Johnson said at the 4th Le 3e, the temperatures “boiled,” she said, concluding Saturday’s event, “everything is going well and I think everyone’s got it. have a great time! “

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