Forget Christmas, Halloween and Easter - for many, summer is the sweetest time of the year.
Ice cream social season in the area kicks off this weekend with the Salem Township Volunteer Fire Department's annual social on Saturday.
The event will be held at Salem-Liberty Elementary School beginning at 4 p.m. and will feature karaoke, bingo, coronation of the Queen and Little Fire Chief and games for kids.
Ice cream socials are an annual tradition for many local volunteer fire departments as a way to raise money for day-to-day operations.
"It's income we use throughout the year," said Dan Ritchey, chief of the Reno Volunteer Fire Department, which will hold its annual social on July 24. "We usually raise between $10,000 and $13,000 for the general fund."
Ritchie said that one expense - liability insurance - costs the department $14,000 a year.
Some area ice cream socials
Salem Township Volunteer Fire Department Ice Cream Social, 4 p.m., Salem-Liberty Elementary School, Ohio 821, Lower Salem; bingo, country store, raffle; Big D karaoke, 4 p.m.; games for children, 5 to 7 p.m.; basketball, 5 to 7 p.m.; Queen(s) and Little Fire Chief coronation, 7:30 p.m.
Fearing Township Volunteer Fire Department, 4 p.m., 1975 Stanleyville Road, Whipple; baked steak dinner, ice cream, cornhole, country store, king and queen crowning, more. 376-0394 or 373-0742.
Warren Volunteer Fire Department Social 2010 Ice Cream Social, 4 to 9 p.m., Station 1 firehouse, Ohio 550 near Warren Elementary School. Bingo, children's games, hay rides, pedal tractor pull, country store, live auction and princess/prince contest. A baked steak or chicken dinner will be served from 4 to 7 p.m. at $7 for adults and $3.50 for children.
Lowell-Adams Volunteer Fire Department Ice Cream Social, 4 p.m., Buell Island, Lowell; country store, bingo, hay rides; menu includes fish, sloppy joes, hot dogs, cole slaw, french fries, cake and ice cream.
Dunham Volunteer Fire Department Ice Cream Social, 4 to 8 p.m., Dunham firehouse, Veto Road, Vincent; lots of food, entertainment, games, chicken dinner, country store, raffle, educational demonstrations. 374-2996 or 629-4994
Reno Volunteer Fire Department ice cream social, 4 p.m., behind Pioneer Chevrolet on Ohio 7; featuring ice cream, hot dogs, inflatables, a hay ride, garden tractor pull and country store.
Members of the department have been asked to donate items to the country store as a way to make money.
"We usually ask the businesses, but a lot of them have been hit really hard this year so we decided not to," Ritchie said.
The socials are also open to everyone regardless of whether or not a person lives in a certain township. Many times, fire crews from different townships are called out to assist with fires throughout the community.
"We back up just about everybody," said Dustin Maze, assistant chief for the Dunham Township Fire Department, which covers areas from Barlow to Belpre and has around 25 volunteer firefighters.
"The money goes toward equipment upkeep and every little bit helps," he said.
Local businesses will be donating items to the country store and there will be a band, food and educational demonstrations.
Maze has been attending the social for the past 12 years and is the "chicken cooker."
"We're famous for our chicken dinners," he said. "It's the special ingredient that keeps people coming back."