From firehouse to concert venue, Kansas fire chief wears multiple hats

Positive Connections

COLBY, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas firefighter is doing much more than protecting his community; he spreads joy through music.

Colby Fire Chief Bob McLemore spends the majority of his day answering emergency calls. When he’s not at the firehouse, he is either planning or preparing for Colby’s bluegrass festival, Pickin’ on the Plains, or setting up the sound system for the city’s Picnic in the Park.

“I do sound for Picnic in the Park every Wednesday,” said McLemore of the June and July event.

Picnic in the Park, put on by the Colby Chamber of Commerce, invites people to enjoy their lunch outside while listening to local musicians. McLemore has been a part of the sound crew for the event for more than 20 years.

“It’s just a nice, relaxed atmosphere. It’s nice to see all the young people and the young children out playing just having a nice, relaxed day,” McLemore said.

“I think it keeps the community alive, and it just makes people feel more like you are a big family. It just brings everybody together,” said Colby resident Marita Shieck.

McLemore said doing the sound for Picnic in the Park is a piece of cake compared to the hours he puts in each year helping to put on Pickin’ on the Plains. McLemore is one of the founding families of the festival that has grown into a nationally recognized event.

KSN asked McLemore why he gives so much of his time and so many of his talents to volunteer work.

“I don’t know if I give back more than anyone else. It’s just part of what you need to do living in a community like this. You contribute to the community,” McLemore replied.

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