NEW HARMONY – The Harmony Valley Volunteer Fire Association held its Apple Harvest Festival Saturday at the New Harmony Fire Department Park on East Center Street. It was a day canopied in blue skies and pleasant temperatures in the low 60s inviting some 1,200 people to the rural Southern Utah town just north of St. George.
The New Harmony Apple Festival is an anticipated and vital tradition for the Harmony Valley. It is held the second week in October every year, aptly timed as the fall season ripens so local growers can share their regional apple varieties.
But, this year, it was more about the town’s support of its fire department than it was about the apples. Apple juice was offered but nary an apple was to be found at the festival – other than one passerby seen pulling an apple or two off one of the many apple trees dotting the neighboring streets.
Fire District Capt. Matt Goodman said they had invited local growers but didn’t find any to come participate in the event. Apples or no apples, Saturday’s festival was filled with good old-fashioned hometown socializing, and it was first and foremost about all things “fire fighter.”
Firemen served up homemade food and festival fare – hamburgers, cotton candy, scones and such; and the Utah State Fire Marshal’s Sparky the Safety Dog came with teaching trailer to engage children and others in fire safety education modules.
The Apple Festival is one of two major benefits put on by the HVVFA each year, the other being a grimy and glorious mud run in the summertime, to support the all-volunteer New Harmony Fire District.
The District serves a 28-square mile area including the town and Harmony Valley as well as a 6-mile stretch of Interstate 15. It addresses the needs of some 2,100 residents, according to the district’s website, as well as other emergent needs: wildland and structural fires, medical, rescue, included.
Evidencing the Apple Festival is fruitful, the New Harmony Fire District was able to purchase a new truck last year, its captain, Matt Goodman said, with proceeds earned from previous apple festivals.
“This year they are hoping to get a paramedic on the force by the first of the year,” he said.
Among other things the volunteers do to keep fit for the job is to spend two days each month training for fire fighting and other emergencies as well as participating in special trainings such as the winter fire school in St George.
The New Harmony Fire District’s Chief, Gregory Gonzalez, sums up the aspiration of the volunteer force in a statement on its website:
We believe, we exist to help people, because people are our most important asset, that continuous improvement is accomplished 1 step at a time, and to do what is best for the the people we serve, thus… ‘ We Accept A Higher Challenge’.
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St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.
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