Buffalo Township banking on 'bigger and better' for community celebration
“Bigger and better” are bywords as Buffalo Township preps for its 20th annual Community Days. Promoting “Unity in the Community,” the festival started as a small gathering at the Buffalo Township building and has evolved into a three-day event with more than 80 vendors at Lernerville Speedway.
“Years ago, we wanted to have something for the community, to come out and meet your neighbors,” says committee chairwoman Betsy Olson of Buffalo Township. “I was at that first one, and the area was very rural back then. I think we were the first township to really put on a festival. I've never missed one yet.”
Olson began soliciting feedback from festival attendees on ways to improve the annual event.
“Three years ago, I started trying to add more; this year, we have amusement rides and games for the kids and, for the first time, fireworks. Each year, I want it to be bigger and better. There is something for everyone.”
Four generations of the Roenigk family have volunteered and attended since the first community days in 1994.
Leland “LB” Roenigk was a tradition at the community days each year, providing horse-drawn carriage rides with his team of draft horses. “He died three years ago. Oh, I miss him so; even the dogs miss him,” reflects wife Frieda Roenigk, 93, and township resident. “I would always help him get the team (of horses) ready each year. It was a lot of work.”
“Dad always said if the horses weren't at Community Days, well, then, Community Days would just end,” says LB's son and festival volunteer Albert “Ouch” Roenigk. The carriage horse- ride tradition continues with Dorene Blackburn taking over with her horse team.
Amusement rides will be provided by Lam Enterprises, and the Freeport Honors Jazz Band will perform May 16.
Numerous craft vendors and lots of food will be on hand. “Oh, my, did I bake a lot for that back in the day,” remembers Frieda Roenigk. “All of the churches would bake, and I liked to take pies. We would sell so much food.'
The Buffalo Township Fire Company will celebrate 62 years of service and host a Battle of the Barrel competition at 2 p.m. May 17.
“The fire department invites area fire companies, and they use their fire hoses for a water tug-of-war style battle with the barrel,” Olson says.
“We are happy to have live music this year with the band “Gone South” playing southern and classic rock on Thursday,” Olson says. Our big addition for community days is the fireworks, so we want everyone to come out Saturday night for that.
“Last year, several thousand attended, and Community Days operates rain or shine.”
Proceeds from this year's event will benefit Matt Wolfe, a Freeport High School student battling cancer, and his family. “We always give back to the community with whatever proceeds we do make,” Olson says.
Joyce Hanz is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.