28 Years and Counting
The 28th Annual Jeffco Fire Engine Rally was on Saturday, September 25, at the Herculaneum City Park and sponsored by the Jefferson County Firefighters Association. The fall weather was great, especially in the morning, and then the temperatures started to climb, giving the rally a warm reception. The annual event attracted firefighters, their families, children, and festival-goers from across the state and western Illinois.
The rally began with a parade of forty-plus fire apparatus and other emergency equipment traveling from Crystal City to the city park in Herculaneum, where most of the apparatus remained on static display throughout the day. Air-rescue helicopters from Air Methods and Air Evac were on static display during the event.
Following the parade, an opening ceremony was held that included a memorial service for the men and women associated with the Jefferson County fire service who had passed away since the last rally was held in September 2021. The memorial includes the reading of the individual’s name, their date of death and followed by a single ring of the memorial bell. Individuals remembered this year included: Michael Allen, Rock Community Fire Protection District and Rock Township Ambulance District; John W. Baynes, Dunklin Fire Protection District; Ronald Ray Beckett, Mapaville Fire Protection District; Glenn “Doc” Brod, DeSoto Fire Department; Kevin L. Cremer, Festus Fire Department; Hershel A. Dugan, Herculaneum Fire Department; Brian Todd Hill, Festus Fire Department; Alan Holt, Herculaneum Fire Department; John Hutson, Cedar Hill Fire Protection District; Lawrence “Larry” Leonard, Goldman Fire Protection District; Rose Marie Nemeth, Big River Ambulance District; Donald L. Null, DeSoto Rural Fire Protection District; John Michael Richardson, Jefferson R-7 Fire Protection District and the Festus Fire Department; Michael Roth, Rock Community Fire Protection District; Emil Ruoff, Shady Valley Fire Protection District; Marvin Schaffrey, Cedar Hill Fire Protection District; John B. Wood, DeSoto Fire Department and Kirk Uhlinger, Jr., Rock Community Fire Protection District.
A moment of silence in remembrance of the 21st anniversary of September 11, 2001, was also included in the memorial. Members of the Jefferson County Color Guard presented the flags prior to the beginning of the opening ceremony. Bagpiper Ian Ebrecht led the color guard to the rally stage.
The opening ceremony included the introduction of the rally Grand Marshal and Junior Grand Marshal. Retired Fire Chief Jeff Broombaugh of the Rock Community Fire Protection District was honored as Rally Grand Marshal and James Lady, of St. Charles County, represented the Midwest Children’s Burn Camp and Burns Recovered Support Group of St. Louis, Missouri as the Junior Grand Marshal. The O’Fallon Fire Protection District and the Fire Fighters Association of Missouri transported the grand marshals in the parade and to the stage area.
The rally annually features fire-rescue demonstrations each year, and the 28th rally was no different. The Crystal City Fire Department and Antonia Fire Protection District assisted the St. Louis Sprinkler Alliance with a side-by-side demonstration comparing fire suppression with and without a sprinkler system in a residential fire. Sentinel Emergency Solutions presented an “evolution of the fire service” demonstration comparing a 1980s fire apparatus with the new technology of the 2020s.
For the fourth year in a row, a Dalmatian show was held with medals being presented to the first and second place winners in six categories: Largest Dalmatian, Smallest Dalmatian, Most Spots, Fewest Spots, Best Trick and Best Dressed.
The first-place winners of the Dalmatian show are as follows: Largest Dalmatian – Luca owned by Valerie Schatz of Sullivan, MO; Smallest Dalmatian – Ember owned by Josh and Starr Boehm of Pevely, MO; Most Spots Ember owned by Josh and Starr Boehme; Fewest Spots – Luca owned by Valerie Schatz; Best Trick – Dexter owned by Tera Jarvis of St. Louis, MO; Best Dressed – Cinder owned by Josh and Starr Boehme.
Each year the rally features numerous activities for the children in attendance including a scavenger hunt, a balloon artist, face paintings, a bounce house and other inflatables, a children’s firefighter challenge, a photo booth, and a fire safety house. The fire safety house is provided by the Rock Community Fire Protection District. The Shekinah Masonic Lodge 256, the Joachim Masonic Lodge 164 and the DeSoto Masonic Lodge 119 held their Missouri Chip child identification program for the children and the Jefferson County Health Department distributed and fitted bicycle helmets for the children in attendance.
As with any festival, the rally features numerous vendor spaces for new and used fire equipment vendors, fire memorabilia collectors, informational booths, and general merchandise vendors. Other vendors include food, drink, ice cream and sno-cones.
Apparatus awards were presented to the various fire departments and emergency services in the following categories:
Farthest traveled – Lenox Rural Fire Department; Best Lettering and Detailing – Kinloch Fire Protection District; Newest Apparatus in Service – Boles Fire Protection District; Best Overall Antique Apparatus – Goose Creek Lake Fire Department; Best Overall Rescue Apparatus – Rock Community Fire Protection District; Best Overall Current Apparatus – Festus Fire Department; Best Overall Ground Cover Apparatus – St. Clair Fire Protection District; Best Overall EMS Apparatus – Joachim-Plattin Ambulance District; Best Aerial Apparatus – High Ridge Fire Protection District; Best Pumper Apparatus – Antonia Fire Protection District; Best Tanker Apparatus – Lenox Rural Fire Department; Oldest Apparatus in Service – Midway (IL) Fire Protection District; Heritage Apparatus Award – O’Fallon (MO) Fire Protection District; Judges’ Award – Fire Fighters Association of Missouri.
The Jefferson County Firefighters Association thanks all the vendors, equipment sales and food vendors for participating at this year’s rally. A big thank you goes out to the sponsors of the event and to those who attended.
Mark your calendars now! The Twenty-Ninth Jeffco Fire Engine Rally will be held on Saturday, September 30, 2023, in Herculaneum.