Flood-weary Scotia ready for fun at annual Dutch Fair

With the floodwaters receded and cleanup well under way, the people of Scotia say they’re ready for

With the floodwaters receded and cleanup well under way, the people of Scotia say they’re ready for a little diversion.

They’ll get just that on Saturday at the Dutch Fair, a decades-old tradition in the village. The most significant sign that things are improving: Mark Lansing of hard-hit Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In will provide the refreshments.

Lansing said he has been helping out at the Dutch Fair for 30 years and did not want to miss out — despite the flooding at his business, a summer mainstay on the Mohawk River. But he cautioned that his food selection is going to be somewhat limited and there won’t be a lot.

When the Mohawk River rose Aug. 29, its floodwaters reached the rooftops at Jumpin’ Jack’s. After the water receded, the parking

lot was coated with several inches of mud. While the mud is gone and the cinder block buildings are in good shape, kitchen equipment such as ice cream machines and grills were ruined and need to be replaced.

This weekend, Lansing will instead be serving hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers and french fries from a trailer.

The 63rd annual Dutch Fair, run by the First Reformed Church, will also raise money to help victims of the flooding, which began Aug. 28.

Lee Poremba, co-chairwoman of the event, said the fair began as a way to raise money to build a new church after a fire. The fair continues as a way to help fill the coffers for the church’s building fund.

But this year, the church will set aside $10,000 of the money raised for flood relief, Poremba said. Flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Irene, a tropical storm by the time it reached upstate New York, destroyed the First Reformed Church in Prattsville and heavily damaged the First Reformed churches in Schoharie and Middleburgh.

The fair will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday on the grounds of the church at 224 N. Ballston Ave. There will be a chicken and biscuit dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. The price is $8 for adults and $5 for children. There will also be a bouncy bounce.

The fair includes a big garage sale featuring used clothing, crafts, used toys and a silent auction of items such as antique chairs and gift baskets.

“We have people coming from [great] distances just to clothe their kids for the school year,” she said.

Parking will be available at Jumpin’ Jack’s, with a shuttle van to the church. Poremba said she was thrilled that Lansing was still involved this year. “He’s a good guy.”

Also, the business lost 12 picnic tables, some of which floated down the river. Lansing said if anybody finds picnic tables they think belong to the restaurant, they can leave a message on the website www.jumpinjacksdriveininc.com.

Lansing has some flood insurance but is not sure about the cost of the damage and how much of that will be covered. He said the rebuilding process is slow.

“It’s about as fast as a snail. We haven’t assessed it, yet it’s more than I realized. We take it one day at a time — get it dried out, cleaned up, repainted and back together.”

Lansing said he definitely plans to be open next year on the last Thursday in March, as is his tradition. He is touched by the number of people offering to help him rebuild the restaurant. But he politely declines and refers them to other places.

“We’re OK down here. We say go to Rotterdam or Middleburgh or Schoharie because we’re under control and they’re struggling more than we are. People have no place to live.”

People haven’t seen the last of Jumpin’ Jack’s this year, Lansing said. He will have a food crew at Glenville’s Oktoberfest, which will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Oct. 1 at Richmor Aviation at the Schenectady County Airport.

The next day, some of his employees plan to be involved in a fundraiser at Carm’s on Freemans Bridge Road to help flooding victims.

Categories: Schenectady County

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