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Come One, Come All: Lake Shore VFC Carnival Returns This April

Zach Sparks
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April 18, 2018

The Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company’s annual carnival is a local tradition, but it wasn’t always on solid footing.

After manning the money wheel at the Chelsea Beach carnival for many years, Lake Shore VFC volunteers decided to organize their own spectacle. The inaugural carnival was scheduled for September 22, 2001, which was ultimately less than two weeks after a national tragedy.

“We didn’t do that great,” admitted Jerry White, the carnival chairman.

But the carnival drew higher attendance in the years to come, and it has become one of the fire company’s top fundraisers. When the 17th year commences from April 19-28, families will again find homemade food, exciting rides and games, and raffles all in one spot at Brumwell’s Field.

When visitors get there, they will see the rides but they will be greeted by savory scents.

“We don’t use store-bought food,” White said. “The cole slaw and baked beans — it’s all homemade. The patties are not like frozen hockey pucks. The only thing we unpackage and cook is the hot dogs.”

Other offerings include cotton candy, funnel cake and pizza by the slice. “The best thing is the deep-fried Oreos,” White said. Co-chair Roger Gordon respectfully disagreed, saying, “I think it’s the pit beef.”

Whatever your appetite, you’re sure to be covered, and the same holds true for anyone expecting to find a variety of games. Each year, Shaw and Sons Amusements incorporates different rides and games so that the event doesn’t become stale. The Lake Shore VFC doesn’t yet know what rides will be coming to town.

“We’ve had bumper boats before. Some years we have the Gravitron or the Zipper,” White said. “You can always bank on the Ferris wheel and carousel.”

For those who want to try their hand at a game, don’t be shy. “What I like about Shaw and Sons is they don’t have agents that get you in there and try to suck every dollar out of you,” White said. “They’re not trying to get you to go for a bigger prize so they can make more money. Many of them are teachers or PTA members. They’re not high pressure. You play, you pay, you win.”

Even if they’re not playing games, people can walk about freely. “Most places you go to where they have a beer garden, you have to stay within the confines of that area. Here, you can mill about. We discourage it, but we find that people don’t really cause a problem.”

Gordon added that the servers are TIPS-certified, meaning they will stop serving alcohol to anyone who has had too many beverages.

That philosophy helps the volunteers keep the carnival family-friendly, as do many other rules. “We don’t allow kids to hang out outside the carnival grounds,” Gordon said.

“They’re either on grounds or in a car going home,” White added.

The whole fire department works together to create that safe atmosphere. Each member must volunteer a minimum of 28 hours per carnival, although many of the sub-committee heads put in 90 or more hours. White and Gordon estimated that 2,500 man hours go into setting up and running the carnival, which is especially tough because everything has to be carried offsite from the firehouse to Brumwell’s.

This year, the carnival is open April 19-28 with the exception of Monday, April 23, and Tuesday, April 24. Brumwell’s is located at 3925 Mountain Road. Presales can be picked up at the station or by calling Donna at 443-572-1588. The presale gets people an all-you-can-ride armband for $17 instead of paying $25 the day of.

The carnival generates between $20,000 and $40,000a year, White said. Proceeds are used by Lake Shore VFC to serve the neighborhood.

“We just bought a $500,000 fire engine,” White said. “It will take eight months to build. We have to make payments on that. The carnival money is not earmarked for any one thing. We might use it to make a vehicle payment or to keep the lights on.”

Pasadena residents are encouraged to come to the carnival not only to help Lake Sore Volunteer Fire Company keep the lights on but also to enjoy the outdoors and entertainment.

“It breaks the cabin fever because it’s the first carnival to come to town,” White declared.

 

Carnival Hours

Thursday, April 19, 6:00-10:00pm

Friday, April 20, 6:00-11:00pm

Saturday, April 21, 5:00-11:00pm

Sunday, April 22, 5:00-10:00pm

Monday, April 23, CLOSED

Tuesday, April 24, CLOSED

Wednesday, April 25, 6:00-10:00pm

Thursday, April 26, 6:00-10:00pm

Friday, April 27, 6:00-11:00pm

Saturday, April 28, 5:00-11:00pm


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