Increased prices from COVID-19 shortages cancel fire department fundraiser

Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 4:51 PM EDT
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For seven decades, the Rutland Volunteer Fire Department in Meigs County, Ohio, has hosted a 4th of July celebration that also doubles as a fundraiser for the department.

Many volunteer fire departments around the country rely on similar events, including lawn parties and fairs.

But after looking at prices for some of the food they would make and sell during the celebration, the department made the decision to cancel. To make a profit, they found they would have to charge families at least $15 on something that would normally be $5.

"The price of meat has more than doubled," said Lt. Josh Taylor. "The substantial raise that we were going to have to put on the sandwiches, we're not going to ask the community to do that."

The price hike is something we all see at the grocery store as a direct result of shortages because of COVID-19.

The department says they were also having a hard time ordering fireworks because the company they use has been shut down because of the pandemic.

"It was a very difficult decision to have to cancel it," said Bruce Davis. "We have families come from near and far just for this event."

The fire department says thousands of people pack the town for the day's parade, fireworks, and other fun. It usually brings in between $10,000 to $15,000 for the small fire department to function on.

"It's a big hit," Taylor said. "We're like every small department. Rural fundraising is key. This is a big hit for us to take. This is the first time in 70 years we've had to worry about this."

The department says the revenue loss does not mean there will be an impact on response.

Elsewhere, other departments and fair organizers have reported that it's nearly impossible to book the companies that normally provide rides for county fairs, because they've shut down due to the logistics of transporting highly touched equipment to be touched by hundreds or thousands more people in locations across the country.