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Community enjoys food truck and vendor fair with proceeds benefiting the Morton-Rutledge Fire Company

Sixty vendors participated in the Food Truck and Vendor Fair hosted by the Morton-Rutledge Fire Company on Saturday. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)

The Morton-Rutledge Fire Company hosted its first food truck and vendor fair before its Quarter Paddle on Saturday, and the large turnout at Mike Scioscia Field was a testament to the community’s approval.

“We all work on a voluntary basis,” said Tom Behmke, who became head of fundraising for the volunteer fire department last year. “That’s why we have to do things like this.”

“Last year I entered the Quarter Paddle raffle,” he said.

Similar to a silent auction, participants pay $10 for a numbered paddle and can get as many as they want. Each seller donated something worth at least $25.

“One guy has preseason tickets for the Eagles, so there are some nice things there,” Behmke said. Another item was a fire truck model with gourmet chocolate-covered pretzels.

The Cheesesteak Trolley was one of the food trucks at the Morton-Rutledge Food Truck and Vendor Fair on Saturday. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)
The Cheesesteak Trolley was one of the food trucks at the Morton-Rutledge Food Truck and Vendor Fair on Saturday. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)

At the end of the event, numbers are drawn for each item and the person with the corresponding paddle wins.

He got the idea from his sister-in-law, who had come up with the idea 10 to 15 years ago for the Academy Park High School musical.

“It just seemed like a cool thing,” Behmke explained.

He also said: “If we get things donated, 100% of the profits will go to the fire department. We just need to buy a few plates and ping pong balls.”

Trial and error

Last year it took place in October at Rutledge City Hall.

“We had about 18 dealers and the Quarter Paddle, but we did it all at once, which was a failure for the dealers because people didn’t see the dealers,” Behmke said.

In an evaluation after the event, the retailers stated that people had not bought anything and that they had not achieved good sales.

The Morton-Rutledge Fire Company has 20 active volunteer firefighters and another 30 volunteers. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)
The Morton-Rutledge Fire Company has 20 active volunteer firefighters and another 30 volunteers. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)

“I thought, ‘Okay, next time we’ll do the dealer event separate from the Quarter Paddle,'” he said.

Hence Saturday came.

“We simply decided to do it,” said Behmke. “I measured the field. I saw that we could easily accommodate 100 sellers there.”

He also wanted to make sure there wasn’t too much of the same thing, so variety was important to him, even among the 60 vendors who came on Saturday.

Kristy Holstein, treasurer and wife of Fire Chief Don Holstein, took on the task of stocking the food trucks.

All proceeds go towards funding the operations of the 50-member, all-volunteer fire department, which includes about 20 active firefighters. The Morton-Rutledge Fire Company was the result of a merger in 2010 in order to survive.

“Right now we’re at 149,” Behmke said of the calls the company has received so far in 2024. “Last year we had 356 (calls). That’s not just Morton-Rutledge. We’re going to Swarthmore. We’re going to Springfield. We’re definitely supporting other companies as well.”

On Saturday, he was thrilled by the large turnout and said he expected the event to become an annual event in the future.

Events like the food truck and vendor fair help all-volunteer businesses like the Morton-Rutledge Fire Company with operating costs. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)
Events like the food truck and vendor fair help all-volunteer businesses like the Morton-Rutledge Fire Company with operating costs. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)

“Oh, that’s great,” Behmke said. “My biggest problem was finding sellers… I couldn’t find people.”

He also promoted all fire departments and urged citizens to support their local fire company, no matter what company it is.

“Just support your fire department,” said Behmke. “We work on a voluntary basis.”

Providers and participants

One of the sellers was Aaron Marshall, owner of Decals of Aaron by Delco.

“My customers are firefighters,” he says of how he heard about it and decided to attend the Morton-Rutledge event. In addition to trade shows, he also sells his Delco products online at decalsbyaaron.com.

Aaron Marshall, owner/founder of Decals by Aaron of Delco, shows off the first Delco shirt he ever made for his Delco business, which now includes shirts, hoodies, mugs, tumblers, flags, beach towels and more. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)
Aaron Marshall, owner/founder of Decals by Aaron of Delco, shows off the first Delco shirt he ever made for his Delco business, which now includes shirts, hoodies, mugs, tumblers, flags, beach towels and more. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)

Marshall, born and raised in Delaware County, started his home business in Brookhaven in 2013. Before getting involved with Delco items, he was making vinyl lettering for cars and attending craft shows when he designed his first shirt, took it to a show and business took off.

He explained what makes Delco so unique: “The people. Workers who love each other and help each other. I have been with Delco for 48 years.”

Decals by Aaron of Delco started its Delco business in 2013. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)
Decals by Aaron of Delco started its Delco business in 2013. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)

His hope for his customers? “Wear it with pride,” Marshall said.

Local resident Dana Corvino and her daughter Stevie gave their best wishes to the event.

“I loved it,” said Dana Corvino. “I loved it. Everyone was so nice. There were a variety of vendors, all with reasonable prices… We love that kind of thing. We’re from Philly. Of course, there’s stuff like that all the time in Philly. We thought, ‘Let’s check it out.'”

Dana Corvino and her daughter Stevie with the Phillie Phanatic cookie they purchased at the Morton-Rutledge food truck and concession stand. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)
Dana Corvino and her daughter Stevie with the Phillie Phanatic cookie they purchased at the Morton-Rutledge food truck and concession stand. (KATHLEEN E. CAREY – DAILY TIMES)

She said she really appreciates community-building events like this one.

“Last night they had a movie night,” she said. “We all gathered in the field. We watched ‘Encanto.’ They handed out popcorn. It was sweet. And today they did this.”

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