By John Burton
Kids volunteer at FH Firemen’s Fair for a ticket to ride
FAIR HAVEN – Getting up early on a hot and humid late August morning to shuck corn may not be everybody’s idea of fun. But for the kids volunteering their corn-husking talents for the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, it seemed like a lot of fun – and there was a payoff for their labor.
“My mom said you can work at the fair and get free (ride and meal) tickets,” 13-year-old Cameron Reed said.
“It sounded pretty cool, so I decided to come do it,” offered Jake Robinson, Cameron’s cousin, also 13, who was visiting from Somerset.
Cameron and Jake were two of about 10 kids on hand standing over trash cans on Tuesday, Aug. 28. They were pulling ears of corn out of tall sacks and stripping them of their husks and silk so they could be cooked later that day when the crowds arrived at the fire company property at 645 River Road.
“I’ve been doing this since, like, third grade,” Cameron said. “It’s not that bad.”
This is the second year that borough residents T.J. Sullivan and James Foley, both 12, have offered their help, which includes doing some chores in addition to corn duty, for the annual fair.
“I like it,” T.J. said, with James nodding in agreement.
They have been attending the fair – which opened Aug. 24 and closes Sept. 1 – most of the evenings, so, they said, it seemed appropriate that they offered their help. It was a decision supported by their parents.
The boys also liked the idea of getting those extra tickets. James said he could get either two free rides and a meal or two meals and a ride with the tickets earned volunteering. He decided he would go for the two rides, probably The Zipper.
“Definitely, The Zipper,” jumped in 10-year-old Lily Barnett. “It’s so spinney and fast.”
Lily was less enthusiastic about spending her morning shucking corn and doing other chores. “But it’s worth it when I get tickets,” she said.
“I like the rides and the boardwalk games,” said William Francis, 9, who was working alongside Jake and Michael Jakub, two brothers who are 11 and 9, respectively. But for William there was another draw beyond the rides and fun at the fair that the other kids all noted as well. “You get to see your friends here,” he said.
“It’s a good way to meet up with friends you haven’t seen over the summer,” T.J. agreed.
People who were away for much of the summer, James said, seem to make it a point to return for this end of the season tradition. “Pretty much all of Fair Haven goes.”
James also saw another benefit to his volunteering at 8 a.m. “Now, at least when you go back to school,” he said, “it’s not so bad getting up in the morning.”
Joe Perrotto, a 20-year veteran of the fire company who was on hand to oversee the kids and their work, is responsible for purchasing and morning organization for the fair. Traditionally, he said, he gets 15 to 30 kids each year to participate and over the years he’s seen many return year after year.
“You watch them grow up and the next thing you know, they’re riding the fire truck,” as fire company members, he said. “This is their way to give back.”
“Without these kids, we couldn’t do what we do,” he said. “They do the chores to get us going.”
It’s not all fun and games either, he admitted. “One of the things with these kids here is they have to put up with me for eight days.”