SPRINGFIELD TWP. The June 23 fireworks spectacular did not fail to amaze the large crowd that had gathered at Springfield Lake for the 11th annual Rock the Docks festival.
Although, at this time of year, closing in on the Fourth of July, fireworks displays are prevalent, viewers at Rock the Docks said there is nothing like watching fireworks over the lake. The colors not only bursting in the sky, but then again, repeatedly, off the water is spectacular.
People could be seen in boats on the lake and sitting all the way around the lake in their cars or on the grassy shore of the lake to watch the colorful display.
"The fireworks stole the show. It was fantastic this year," Rock the Docks Director Jerry Michael said. "American Fireworks did it right."
This year’s event had to fight the rain drops but it did not stop the many volunteers from making it a memorable event for families and friends. Event Coordinator Cindy Michael said the very best thing about Rock the Docks is the people.
"We have a committee of volunteers who have been working together almost since its inception who really care about our community and are dedicated to providing a safe and enjoyable experience to each and every person who attends," she said.
This year, the committee for Rock the Docks had a "soft opening" from 6 to 10 p.m. June 21 that just included rides, concessions and games and it was well received due to the discounted wristbands and shorter lines.
"So, we are definitely considering it again for next year," Cindy Michael said.
Throughout the event, people lined up to ride the rides, play the carnival games and dunk someone in the dunk tank. In addition, kids enjoyed the petting zoo and new this year was the Live Hive Tent by Mueller Bee Rescue, where working bees could be seen up close. The Home Depot was on site to help the kids make a craft. As always, the free pontoon boat rides around the lake were popular.
Visitors enjoyed traditional carnival foods and some new ones as well. Food vendors and local community organizations and businesses lined the closed Canfield Road.
The Fire Department entertained children with a sprinkler for the kids - and some adults - to run through to cool off.
This year’s event was interesting for Jerry Michael as one thing stuck out for him.
"I had a family on the pontoon from Pennsylvania," he said. "The dad's grandparents lived on the lake and he started telling his kids about his visits with his grandfather. That to me is what Rock the Docks is about. The stories, the community. That's why it happens year after year."
Other events included a Friday night Princess and Superhero party was thrown for the younger kids at the Fire Station. Aspiring songsters had a chance to show their talents in the first ever karaoke event at the Vince Mealy Bicentennial Gazebo. Bands performed Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the crowds.
On Sunday, the title of the wing eating contest went to Drew McHenry, dethroning Chris Alderman, who held the title for three years running.
It is not possible to know an exact number of people that attended but Cindy said they had better than average attendance despite the rain.
"It sure didn’t dampen the spirits of the attendees," she said. "Since the rain was intermittent and rides are able to run unless there's the threat of lightning, attendees were dodging in and out of vendor tents throughout the weekend and enjoying the festival activities in between showers."
She said there were times that folks got caught in the rain in the middle of the lake on the pontoon boats, "but no one really seemed to care."
"To me, the festival is more than rides. It shows off our community and people," Jerry said.