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Vandergrift FD hopes ethnic days will be annual event

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By George Guido
Thursday, May 31, 2012, 12:14 a.m.

Judging from a solid weeknight crowd at the second annual Vandergrift Fire Department' ethnic days and carnival on Wednesday, it looks like the Alle-Kiski Valley's newest festival could become a mainstay.

The event at Kennedy Park, sponsored by Vandergrift Fire Companies Nos. 1 and 2, included fun for all ages.

"So far, the weather's been good and the people are coming out," said Jennifer Potoka, Vandergrift No. 2 Fire Company secretary and safety officer.

The two borough fire departments last year cleared $5,000 each and Potoka is hoping to see both companies share at least $1,000 or more from this year's event.

Hungry Kiski Valley residents had their choice of ethnic foods such as pasta fagiole, halupkis and Chinese cuisine offered by Lieu's Catering of Murrysville.

Traditional carnival fare such as funnel cakes, cheesesteak sandwiches and French fries also are available.

The event continues nightly through Saturday, with an afternoon session slated for Saturday. There is no admission charge.

One of the more popular food booths was sponsored by Holy Smokes of Tarentum. Touted as "swine dining," Holy Smokes offers pulled pork and ribs Sundays at Tarentum Central Presbyterian Church for a donation.

"We're hoping to get more vendors out next year, and we hope to make this an annual event," said Potoka, a fire department volunteer for seven years.

Carnival rides are supplied by Swank Amusements of Apollo, which has added attractions for this year.

Game booths and prizes also are available.

Ryan Moorhead, 6, of Vandergrift was accumulating quite a haul with a basketball won at a hoop-shoot booth and a Star Wars-style light saber garnered at the lucky duck booth with his brother, Collin, 2.

Potoka said musical entertainment at the park gazebo Friday will include reggae group "3 Dudes Chillin'" and the Michael Christopher Band for country and western fans.

DUI demo

One of the most popular events Saturday afternoon could be the Driving Under the Influence demonstration at Kennedy Park.

Sponsored by the Allegheny Township Police Department, carnival-goers can don a pair of goggles that simulate driving while intoxicated.

"Motorists" will try to navigate around orange cones set up strategically.

The Vandergrift fire departments will display their snorkel and ladder trucks.

The ethnic days and carnival is one of a number of fundraisers for the fire companies.

"We're going to try a Chinese dinner for the first time soon and we do different things like a cash bash," said Potoka, whose brother, Steve, serves as Fire Company No. 2 chief.

If you go

What: Vandergrift Ethnic Days

When: 6 to 10 p.m. nightly through Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday,

Where: Kennedy Park, Vandergrift

Admission: Free

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