STUYVESANT FALLS — After having to cancel the 2020 Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Convention and Parade due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of area firefighters and ladies auxiliary members are ready to march as the annual event returns next week in Stuyvesant Falls.

The 96th annual convention and parade is scheduled for Friday and Saturday July 30 and 31, Tim Trowbridge, president of Columbia County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association said.

So far, 36 fire companies and other organizations from Columbia and surrounding counties are scheduled to march in this year’s convention parade, which will step off at 2 p.m. on July 31, Trowbridge said.

The first CCVFA convention and parade was held in Philmont in 1926, following the group’s formation one year prior, Jeffrey W. French, CCVFA Historian, said. Companies that have hosted the county convention the most are Valatie 8 times, Chatham 8 times, Stuyvesant Falls 6 times, and Ghent and Philmont 5 times each, French said.

Stuyvesant Falls last hosted the convention in 2002. The event was scheduled to be hosted by CCVFA in Chatham last year, before it was canceled, Trowbridge said.

This year’s dress parade Saturday will march along county Route 25 between Robin Road and the Stuyvesant Falls VFW. Viewing will be anywhere along the parade route, Trowbridge said.

Friday night’s portion of the convention includes meetings, ceremonies and a free concert by Jarrod that is open to the public. The night takes place on the grounds of the VFW on county Route 25. The night begins with the annual business meeting at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be followed by a ceremony that will recognize all the 50-year members in attendance and honor those who have passed away recently. Awards will be given out for outstanding achievements in fire service throughout the past year. After the ceremonies, at about 9 p.m., Jarrod will play for listening and dancing. Refreshments will be available.

The cost of putting on the annual convention varies between $30,000 and $40,000, which includes all the weekend’s activities, and all the various costs of meetings and events through the year, leading up to the convention, Trowbridge said.

The primary source of fundraising is the annual yearbook, that is distributed to firefighters at the convention. Stuyvesant Falls Fire Company also held several fundraisers throughout the past year, Trowbridge said.

Following Saturday’s parade, D.J. Jack Bogarski will provide music and entertainment at the VFW grounds.

Over the past 95 years, only one parade was rained out. That happened in 1960 in Stockport. There have been parades where the rain fell before, during, and after, but never as hard as the rain came down in 1960, French said. The long-range forecast for this year’s parade, on July 31, is partly sunny, and a high near 80.

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