This is what locals call a ‘homecoming’ in their community

Russell Bush has been organizing the annual Firemen’s Fair for 40 years.

It was something that got passed on to him in 1977 after a former Columbia Fire Company chief — who had organized the fair for 15 years — moved to Florida with his family.

“I almost can’t believe it’s been that long,” Bush said. “It was one of those things where you go to help out one year and gain experience, and then end up taking it over the next.”

Bush said he’d like to do it for another 10 years, but isn’t sure he’ll be able to.

“It’s become something regular in my life after so long, but we have another guy helping out the last couple years who might take it over some day,” Bush said. “I’m not sure I have another 10 years left in me to do it.”

This year marks the 94th annual Firemen’s Fair — a weeklong Fourth of July celebration that benefits the Columbia Fire Company.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Bush said.

It started Sunday with a car show that showcased about 130 vehicles, and includes a Fourth of July parade and fireworks, carnival, live entertainment and more.

“What it is, is a homecoming,” Bush said. “People go away and come back for the summer and reunite with people in their hometown right here at the fair. It’s one of the last fairs in the area that still has a carnival.”

After 69 years using Thompson Brothers carnival services, Bush said they switched to Trowver Ride Company to provide the area with carnival attractions.

But Bush said the parade is generally the highlight of the event.

The Monday morning parade will include 150 units, including fire apparatuses from departments in central Pennsylvania, six bands and two baton corps.

Bush said that by the first of the year, a committee annually gathers to help plan for the fair.

“We’ve done it so many times it’s not too hard anymore,” he said with a laugh. “Having the Fourth (of July) on a Monday isn’t ideal, but when it lands toward the end of the week are the years we have our best fairs because it lets us do a lot on the weekends.”

Just about everything is similar to previous years, but Bush said one of the new attractions is a chain carving event.

“For the most part it stays the same, but we try to get new activities and entertainment in once in a while,” he said.

Bush didn’t say how much the fair annually raises for the fire company, but he did say the money goes toward fire company operations.

“It’s something that brings the community together for a lot of fun and for a good cause,” Bush said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

Firemen’s Fair in Osceola Mills


11 a.m.: Parade through town and ending at the fire hall

Noon: Carnival

3 p.m.: Knotty Ray Chain Carvings at Bucky’s Bar

6:30 p.m.: Goin For Broke Band

Dusk: Fireworks at the ball field


6:30 p.m.: Horse Shoe Cloggers

7 p.m.: Moose Panic


4 to 6 p.m.: Children’s Day

7 p.m.: The Sharp Tones


6 p.m.: Heather Olson

8 p.m. Scott “Elvis” Allegretto


7:30 p.m.: Randy Clark and The Rusty Spurs


7:30 p.m.: Twin Reverb Band, Mutual Friends Band