VERO BEACH, Fla. - The Indian River County Firefighters' Fair kicked off Friday evening with loud music, shriek-provoking rides and big smiles on children's faces. That is, before lightning and rain forced organizers to shut the fair down for the night.
Fair organizers want to promote a fun environment. They also have a serious objective: helping their neighbors.
Once fair organizers pay operating costs, they say the rest of the money goes to people in need. According to its website, the fair pays Indian River County 1/3 of its net profit for use of its facilities, and 2/3 goes for charitable activity.
Retired Indian River County Assistant Fire Chief Ed Prime realized the value of the fair 16 years ago, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis.
"At the time, you don't know if you're ever coming back," said Prime.
The Firefighters' Association gave Prime $2,500 for transportation and medical bills. The money came from fair profits.
"That helped a lot with offsetting some of the costs to our family," said Prime.
Fair general manager Toby Turner says more than $40,000 of fair profits have poured into the Indian River County Burn Fund. That money has helped victims pay for treatment, medical equipment and transportation.
"A lot of different organizations might come to us. We look at it, we review it, and we try to help in some way," said Turner.
The Salvation Army, American Red Cross and Hibiscus Children's Center have all benefited from the fair, according to Turner. He welcomes organizations to apply for help this year.