June 30, 2016

Mostly clear

Street fair is long-running tradition in Valley City

The blast of an air horn signals the start of the 5K race Saturday at the Valley City Street Fair. (ALEC SMITH / GAZETTE)

The blast of an air horn signals the start of the 5K race Saturday at the Valley City Street Fair. (ALEC SMITH / GAZETTE)

The Valley City Street Fair, one of the oldest summer festivals in Medina County, is aiming at a younger audience.

The organizers of the festival in Liverpool Township, which began in 1934 to support the Valley City Fire Department, have moved away from traditional fair rides and now feature inflatable “bounce houses” and other attractions for youngsters.

“We’re constantly upgrading for the younger generation,” Fire Chief Jack Petrone said. “We want the young people to have pride in Valley City. This is the spirit of the community — the people of Liverpool supporting the Fire Department and each other.”

Brittney Ingersol from Buckeye, volinteering for the Buckeye chearleader water dunk 3 balls for a dollar,which all procedes they make goes towards the pay to play fund to help cheerleaders afford pay to play. Brittney is getting dunked on Saterday afternoon at the Valley City Street Festival. (ALEC SMITH / GAZETTE)

Brittney Ingersol volunteers for the Buckeye cheerleader water dunk. (ALEC SMITH / GAZETTE)

The Valley City Street Fair began in 1934 to raise $500 the township needed to build its own fire station.

“Prior to 1934, the Medina Fire Department would have to travel all the way here to put out a fire because we didn’t have a fire station,” Pete Berger, retired Valley City fire chief, said.

For the past 81 years, the fair has been held each summer with the exception of 1952, when it was canceled because of a polio outbreak.

Petrone said that up until the 1980s the street fair was the Fire Department’s only source of income.

“Since then we’ve had a levy and other means of support,” he said. The department has 36 members and answers more than 600 calls a year.

Center Road was closed over the weekend to make room for food trucks, a dunk tank and craft vendors. Fire trucks were moved out of the Valley City station and rows of tables and chairs for dining were moved in. The back of the station became a stage for live music shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Some fairgoers tapped their feet, some danced and others sang along Sunday to big band music by Swing Era, a band based in Independence.

“They like us, I guess,” Swing Era trombone player Greg Songer said.

The band of 16 musicians and two vocalists has been playing for the street fair for about five years.

“We’re a dying breed,” band leader John Kleban said. “Music to me is organized sound, not the noise that the young generation listens to.”

Staff member Alec Smith contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or kanderson@medina-gazette.com.

Katie Anderson About Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson covers Medina County government and the city of Wadsworth. She has been with The Gazette since July 2014. Contact her at (330) 721-4012 or via email at kanderson@medina-gazette.com.