A fixture of summers in the southern Adirondacks, the Smoke Eaters’ Jamboree, a carnival-style, two-night event organized and operated by the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Company, returns to Warrensburg July 28 and 29.
This summer’s edition is a celebration of the Jamboree’s sixtieth anniversary, said Kevin Geraghty, who, in addition to being Warrensburg Supervisor and Chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors, is president of the fire company.
“We missed 2020 because of Covid, but when we returned in 2021, we put up a ‘Welcome Back’ sign. People actually teared up. People came up to us and told us, ‘you guys just do it the right way,’” said Geraghty, who has helped stage the event every year since he joined the fire company in 1970. “I like to think that the people who started this would be very pleased that we’ve kept it going for 60 years.”
Roughly 2,000 people attend the Smoke Eaters Jamboree every year, coming from communities throughout Warren County, the Adirondacks and Vermont, said Geraghty.
Featuring amusement rides, a midway, games of chance, an auction, a chicken barbeque, a staged concert and a fireworks show, the Smoke Eaters’ Jamboree is held every year at the Warrensburg Recreation Field.
“With the Three Sisters mountains in the background, it’s a beautiful area, especially as a place to sit and listen to the band and watch the fireworks,” said Geraghty.
Both evenings include music by After-FX Deejay with radio personality Lee Pecue along with Chip Aldrich, as well as a clown act, a magician and a balloon artist.
The gates open Friday at 6 pm, with the auction starting at 6:30 pm.
More than 120 items have been donated to this year’s auctions, including many gift certificates for goods, services and entertainment.
“The auction has been a staple of Friday nights for years,” said Geraghty. “The businesses are always very generous. If we neglect to ask for a donation, the owners get irritated.”
On Saturday, the gates open at 5 pm for the chicken barbecue, which is prepared by the firefighters. Those attending the barbecue are urged to arrive early, as the dinner sells out quickly.
At 6:30 pm, a band making its first appearance at the Smoke Eaters’ Jamboree, the Saratoga-based dance and party band Jukebox Rebellion (featuring J Yagar of the Audiostars and the Burners UK), takes the stage.
Saturday evening ends with the fireworks show, billed as the “Best in the North Country.”
According to Geraghty, local fairs like the Smoke Eaters’ Jamboree were once a common feature of summers in the Adirondacks.
“Thurman had its Old Home Days, Stony Creek had Mountain Days. Chestertown had something at its Conservation Club. We’re the last of them. At year 60, our run has been a long one. I always say, ‘Oh Lord, it can’t rain on Jamboree.” said Geraghty.
The Jamboree’s proceeds are never used to subsidize the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Company’s routine operations.
Rather, they support the company’s many community service activities: scholarships; little league; a girls’ softball team; the annual Halloween parade; Thanksgiving dinner; the visit from Santa Claus; programs at the Countryside Adult Home; the Warrensburg Central School Marching Band.
“Everything we raise, which is usually $15,000 to $20,000 a year, goes back into the community,” said Geraghty.
Entrance donations are $3 on Friday and $5 on Saturday.
“We try to provide people with the best entertainment possible at a reasonable price,” said Geraghty.
The Warrensburg Recreation Field is located on Library Avenue.
Thom Randall contributed reporting.