Two more nights remain for this year’s edition of Carlisle Fire and Rescue Services’ annual carnival.
The carnival begins at 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday night when the food lines open and runs until 10 p.m. Rides start up at 6:30, and the entertainment, featuring Old School on Friday and Borderline on Saturday, starts at 7 p.m.
The carnival opened on Tuesday night.
“The carnival is one of our largest single fundraisers,” said Bob Snyder, who has served as the chairman of the carnival committee for “somewhere between 28-32 years.”
Money raised at the carnival helps the company pay expenses, such as the gas and electric bills, and to pay for new equipment for volunteers.
Snyder said a lot of people don’t realize that the fire company building is not owned by the borough so the costs associated with its upkeep must come from the company itself.
Beyond the importance of the carnival as a key fundraiser, the event brings the community together, Snyder said. The same people come back to the carnival year after year, and there are some who will come to the carnival for each night of its run.
The carnival is the only one left in Carlisle from the heyday of carnivals in the 1970s when the individual fire companies in town held them, including the street fair at Friendship Fire Company when it was located on North West Street. That fair closed down C Street between West and Factory streets for the festivities.
It takes three months to prepare for the carnival, but all that work can go for nothing if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
“You pray for good weather,” Snyder said.
He said West Pennsboro Fire Company had a successful carnival with good weather earlier in June, but South Newton had to fight through storms for its carnival last weekend.
“That’s unfortunate because there’s a lot of work put into the project, but you can’t beat Mother Nature,” Snyder said.
Forecasts for Friday and Saturday show potential for hot and humid weather, which may affect attendance, but Snyder said the fire company’s large bingo room is air conditioned to offer a place for people to have supper.
The carnival is also a way people who may not be able to serve as a firefighter can plug into the company as a volunteer. On Tuesday night, there were 50-60 volunteers working at the carnival stations, and a third of them were not firefighters.
Snyder said that’s a good situation for the company because it allows firefighters to continue to respond to emergencies in the coverage area as the carnival is underway.