Jerry Wilson owns a home on Lake Sara, so he appreciates having a local volunteer fire district close by.

“I think it’s great for the community,” Wilson said. “Especially out here at the lake to have all of these dedicated people willing to put in their time and effort as firefighters.”

Residents from Lake Sara and the surrounding area came to Heron Cove and Bluegill Marina Saturday to help support the Shumway Fire Protection District and the work they do at the Shumway Firefighters Bash.

The annual fundraiser featured nationally touring headliner Whey Jennings, grandson of Country Music legend Waylon Jennings. Opening for Jennings with acoustical sets were local favorites Dakota Danielle and Luke Perring.

With the Shumway Fire Protection District station on Park Road close to Heron Cove, Shumway Fire Battalion Chief Johnathan Paholke said the event was more than “a making money project.”

“It’s more of a PR event for us so we can educate the public about the fire department, give tours of our station house, let kids play on the firetrucks, and let people see how their tax money is being spent,” he said.

“Usually, we have it later in the year,” Paholke said. “By having it now, we hope to reach more people that might leave the lake in fall for the winter months.”

“The lake population just about cuts in half when the snow comes,” he added.

Fire Chief Joe Kemme said the bash is just one of the fundraisers the fire district has during the year for needed equipment.

“I would like to see us get a roof prop and a forcible entry prop in the future,” Kemme said.

A rooftop prop emulates the angle of a roof from ground level.

“It’s a prop where you can pretend you’re on a roof and not have to be on an actual building,” Kemme said.

Kemme said with money collected from past fundraisers the district has purchased a side by side that can be used for transporting water or used as a medical unit on EMS calls in areas where a conventional vehicle cannot operate.

Lake Sara resident Mike George has been to almost all of the Shumway Firefighters Bashes.

“They have all been fantastic,” George said. “What’s neat about this venue is we came over here by water.”

George said when he gets the chance he likes to stop by the fire station and talk to firefighters. His wife used to be a paramedic in Peotone before they moved to Lake Sara.

“We’re glad we have them,” George said. “And they are only seven minutes from where we live.”

Charles Mills can be reached at or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.