Over two thousand firefighters and visitors are in Manchester this week for the 2019 Iowa Firefighters Association Convention.
The Delaware County Fairgrounds has been transformed into a tiny city to accommodate everyone, with 1,500 campsites – with golf carts and old fire trucks traveling up and down the “street paths” complete with handmade street signs.
Guttenberg Fire Chief Jim Cunningham says it’s been a great convention so far.
The convention kicked off Wednesday, with golf and bowling tournaments at Pin Oak and Lightning Lanes. They’ve been shopping and eating in Manchester and some of the visitors took advantage of a free shuttle that was traveling back and forth from Edgewood for the day. Edgewood Fire Chief Jay Degenford says having the convention close to home is a good thing.
Nearly every firefighter echoed that sentiment… they say coming to the annual convention is all about the people.
That’s Garrett Kozek of the Hartwick Fire Department. Ben Krause from the Radcliffe Fire Department agrees.
At convention, many of the fire departments create a fun atmosphere at their campsites, with bars, games, decorations and other unique set-ups. Kraus’ department was one of those who had a bar and even a mini replica of their town’s water tower.
The drills are taking place today in the East Fayette Street area – the public is welcome to come out with their lawn chairs and watch. The public can also come out to the big Firefighters Convention parade on Saturday night at 6:30 pm in Manchester. Lyn Medinger from the Bellevue Fire Department says they’ll have their restored antique fire truck in the parade.
They take pride in their trucks – and their departments too. Garber Fire Chief Chad Kuehl:
And the annual convention is a chance for these volunteer firefighters to relax and have fun after a long year of hard work.
Nancy Mulhousen with the Maquoketa Fire Department says she and her husband have been coming to the convention every year since 1987.
After a couple days of golf and bowling, a dance with live music is being held tonight and Saturday night, along with a catered dinner both nights for all the guests at the fairgrounds. Iowa Firefighters Association President Jim Shutts of Belle Plaine says Manchester has done a fantastic job of hosting this year’s convention.
The Iowa Firefighters Convention wraps up on Sunday.
photos courtesy of Janelle Tucker/KMCH