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Village fun with a purpose

Left to right, Dana Gravesen adjusts the fire helmet for his son, Madden, as he and Logan Jones prepare to compete in the fire hose games during the 2013 Poplar Fun Days. This year’s fun kicks off Saturday in the village of Poplar. (Submitted photo)

Future firefighters can strap on helmets and test their skill during the fire hose games at this year’s Poplar Fun Days.

The village, population 608, is serving up treats for all ages Saturday. Returning activities include a bounce house, obstacle course, sack races, bean bag tournament and greased pole contest. Organized by the Poplar Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, the event is more than a fundraiser; it’s a chance to meet your neighbors.

“It’s just something to really bring Poplar together,” said organizer Karen Nevin.

The fun kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday with a parade down Main Street. Expected floats include Lauren Love in a pony-drawn carriage, Pat Abrahamzon’s tractors and a Little Steps Day Care float. Everyone is invited to join.

“Parents can dress their kids up and pull them in a wagon,” Nevin said.

For $5, children can enjoy unlimited play on the carnival games, safari train and bounce house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Athletic participants can try to snag the title of greased pole champion from last year’s winner, Karsyn Jones. The bean bag, or corn hole, tournament begins at 1 p.m. More games, including the kiddie relay races, fire hose games, dunk tank and inaugural hula hoop contest, begin at 2 p.m. Find out if Lauren Love or Kenley Craft will wear the crown when the Poplar Princess is announced at 6 p.m. Then groove to 1980s rock and roll from LA Reds/Reckless Reunion during a street dance 6-10 p.m. Cap off the day of activity with fireworks at dark. Hungry participants can snag a brat, walking taco, cotton candy, homemade French fries and more from food vendors throughout the day. Anyone can participate, whether they live in Poplar or not.

“This is a community event,” Nevin said.

Village businesses have stepped up to donate meat, prizes and more for the fun days. They include Poplar Auto, Olson Auto, Village Market, Mother’s Kitchen, Poplar Hardware and Hursh Meats.

“It’s just amazing,” Nevin said. “We really couldn’t do it without them and their support.”

The Poplar Volunteer Fire Department has 18 members. They respond to about 60 calls a year, from fires and car accidents to medical emergencies.

“We’re out there to help the community,” said First Assistant Fire Chief Brad Nelson. “Just to help people when they need help, that’s our job.”

In addition to Poplar calls, these volunteers provide mutual aid to the neighboring towns of Maple, Lakeside and Amnicon and the village of Lake Nebagamon. Funds raised at last year’s Poplar Fun Days provided new boots for some of the Poplar crew.

Nelson has been on the department for 24 years. Although certain rules have changed, he said, the role of volunteer firefighters hasn’t. They are crucial, Nelson said, and highly skilled. To become a firefighter requires 120 hours of class time. It takes an added 70 hours of training to be an emergency medical technician. They are vital, however, as the majority of calls are medical ones. Volunteers are always needed, Nelson said.

For more information about becoming a volunteer fire fighter, contact your town or village fire hall.

To sign up for the softball tournament, which runs Saturday and Sunday, call Ryan at 715-815-0537.

To enter a team in the bean bag tournament, call 218-348-1994 or visit the Facebook page Poplar Fun Days.

Another event to support the Poplar Volunteer Fire Department is gearing up, as well. A four to five person golf scramble fundraiser takes place Sept. 13 at Poplar Golf Course. Organizers are still looking for donations of door prizes and silent auction items. For more information, contact Terri at 218-390-1814.