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Camden’s Fire Fest celebrates 20 years

Posted: September 29, 2015 5:57 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

C-I Web Extra: Applied Technology Education Campus Protective Services instructor Jeff Cooper (left) times a member of the Lugoff Fire-Rescue Explorers troop during a fire gear donning competition at the 20th annual Fire Fest in Camden on Saturday.

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Cloud cover and the threat of rain didn’t deter hundreds of people from lining Broad Street in downtown Camden to see a parade of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles marking the opening Saturday morning of Camden’s 20th annual Fire Fest.

The parade route, shorter than in years past, started at Rutledge Street and made its way down to Rhame Arena at the corner of Broad and Bull streets. Renovations at Rhame Arena are nearly complete, so Fire Fest served as a sneak peek for the facility. Officials asked the public to wait until nearly 9:45 a.m. as some finishing touches were made to vendors tables and other amenities. Then the south entrance’s new roll-doors rose to allow bagpiper Edward Wilkes of Lexington to lead a color guard into the arena, followed by the hundreds gathered behind them.

Inside, visitors found a new, expanded kitchen; clean, modern bathrooms; duct work for a climate control system; and plenty of space to enjoy performances by Dance Extraordinaire and musician Anna Lynn Ferris, play games, cheer on Explorers in a competition and learn about South Carolina’s fire fighting history. Outside, even with some misty rain at times, young festival goers crawled into and over bounce houses and slides, met horses and witnessed a side-by-side burn of trailers showing the benefits of residential sprinkler systems.

According to Camden Fire Department Deputy Chief Phil Elliott, Fire Fest actually began 21 years ago, but skipped a year, making Saturday’s the 20th annual event.

 

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