As a thank-you to its supporters, the Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department has put together a new community event.

Only three aspects of Fire Fest will have a cost. The rest of the features are free.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the fire department at Moore and Armstrong streets, a fish sandwich with a drink is $4 and a hot dog with a drink is $2, and dessert can be purchased from a Firehouse Ice Cream vendor. Behind the Crothersville school building in the teachers’ parking lot, teams of five people can pay $25 to participate in waterball.

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But the rest of the activities — bounce houses, live music, relay races, kids’ waterball and firetruck rides — will be available at no cost.

“We want to celebrate the people who support us. We want to give back to them,” said Jason Hillenburg, a firefighter with the department and organizer of the event. “That’s what Fire Fest is about.”

The department is transitioning to a fire district, which means Vernon Township residents will see an increase in their property taxes at the beginning of 2017.

That’s another reason the department wanted to have an event that is mostly free.

“Being the last year of working off of the township budget and going to the district budget and the fact that we’re going to get into people’s wallets just a little bit more, we really felt like this year was the year that we wanted to start that,” Hillenburg said.

Waterball returned to the Crothersville Red, White and Blue Festival in June for the first time in more than 20 years. Hillenburg said town Councilman Chad Wilson played a big part in encouraging him to get that event back at the festival, and it went over so well that he thought it would be good for Fire Fest, too.

The competition involves teams going head-to-head for three minutes and using fire hoses to try to keep a suspended yellow ball on the opposing team’s side the longest.

While the adult double-elimination tournament has a registration free, the children’s version of waterball will be free and conducted at the fire station.

“I think the generation gap, the 20-year gap that missed out on waterball got a good taste of it at the festival, so we thought it would be a good idea to try it again for this, as well,” Hillenburg said.

Fire Fest is a way to wrap up the summer for families and kick off the school year and the upcoming fall season, Hillenburg said.

He plans on making this an annual event.

“As long as I’m on the fire department and as long as they want me to be their public relations guy, then Fire Fest is going to continue to happen,” he said.

Fire Chief Ben Spencer said he appreciates the work Hillenburg has put in to make the event a success.

“I think Jason has done just an outstanding job of putting this together,” Spencer said. “Once we get established, this will be something that we do, and it will grow bigger, and it will be 100 percent free for the community to come up and enjoy.”

If you go

What: Fire Fest

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department, 200 Moore St., Crothersville

Features: Bouncy houses, live music, fish sandwiches, hot dogs, drinks, Firehouse Ice Cream, relay races, firetruck rides, kids waterball and adult waterball tournament (adult waterball will be in the teachers parking lot behind the Crothersville school building)

Cost: Fish sandwich and drink is $4, hot dog and drink is $2 and adult waterball is $25 for a team of five; the remainder of the features are free

Information: Jason Hillenburg at 812-569-7468

Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.