The 4th Annual VFW Post 4712 Fallfest went off without a hitch this autumn as the Simpson VFW once again hosted a well-attended community event to raise awareness of and funds for veterans’ issues.
Pat Connolly, commander of Post 4712, said that money earned through this year’s event is earmarked for improvements to the post itself, including better access to online resources and help with completing online forms for veterans, many of them elderly and requiring help with online services, through the post’s computers.
Money raised at previous Fallfests has been distributed to many charities, including a homeless vets’ center run by the Diocese of Scranton, a donation to slain state trooper Cpl. Bryon Dixon’s family, a donation to help create a Global War on Terrorism memorial in Carbondale, and improvements to the VFW facility.
Connolly emphasized that Fallfest is also a part of the post’s outreach to the community, serving as a way for the members of the local community to gather together much as they did in the past when Simpson churches hosted parish picnics.
The two day event included a variety of activities for folks of all ages and relied on the help of people of all ages to run smoothly. A bounce house obstacle course, pumpkin painting, a dunk tank, and a photo booth were some of the kid-oriented activities offered. Live music by the bands Light Weight and Grubber provided entertainment during the event. A cornhole tournament took place on the second day of the event.
A beer tent, a walking taco stand, and a food stand featuring, among other offerings, potato pancakes made according to the St. Michael’s Church picnic recipe, provided refreshments. A 50/50 drawing and basket raffles with the chance to win great prizes donated by area businesses, as well as Pittsburg Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles memorabilia donated by the teams, were available.
“We want to intertwine the goals of the community and of the veterans organizations, and we want to include children by involving them in patriotism. Many members’ children are volunteering at the stands, and it’s great to see them getting really excited about community involvement,” explained Connolly, who said the post also partners with local schools to sponsor several contests promoting patriotism throughout the year.
Two area veterans’ organizations participated in Fallfest. Equines for Freedom, a non-profit organization that uses horses as therapy animals to help veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), manned a booth with informational pamphlets and representatives who were eager to discuss their program. Equines for Freedom provides free, anonymous, HIPAA compliant treatment to qualified veterans using a team treatment approach.
Also participating in Fallfest were members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA22-9). Chapter president Eric Ransom led around 35 members on a 60 mile ride through Susquehanna County. The ride departed from and returned to Fallfest so members and their families could enjoy the activities and refreshments offered.
“CVMA is a veterans’ non-profit organization. We’re doing this ride as a fundraiser. We donate to places like the veterans’ home in Wilkes-Barre. This is nice, because it gets people together. We have riders here from as far away as Williamsport, Altoona, and Wellsboro,” remarked Ransom, whose young son was excited to be accompanying him on the ride.
The beautiful weather and the VFW members’ enthusiasm and hard work ensured that the large number of Fallfest attendees had an enjoyable time. According to Jim Heenan, chair of the Fallfest, that’s what the event is all about.
“As the years go by, Fallfest keeps growing. Since St. Michael’s picnic is gone, we’re doing this at the community’s request. Our main goal is not fundraising, but for the community to come together to have a good, old-fashioned party,” Heenan said. It seems as if that goal has, indeed, been met!