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Carnivals are big attractions in Saxonburg, Seven Fields

| Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:49 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Madison Shuss, 7, and her sister, Isabel, 5, of East Vandergrift, climb the rolling wall of the Looney Belle during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Company Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Chris Fetterhoff, of Middlesex Township, feeds a french fry to his 1-year old son Trevor during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Kim Brandt, of Jefferson, purchases a steak hoagie from Addison Cookie-Murphy, 17, of Boardman, Ohio as Robert Maney, of New Middletown, Ohio flips fresh steaks during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
(left) Kaitlin Eichenlaub, 11, of Saxonburg, and her sister Jeannine, 9, feed their pet goat, Brownie, during the pet parade held during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Nora Criley, 6, of Clearfield, looks toward Pip, a miniature horse, as her 4-year-old sister, Eva, tags along during the pet parade held during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Company Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Erin Turner, of Butler, and her nephew, 3-year old Carter Sasse, of Chicora, show off their pet horse Brownie during the pet parade held during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
(from left) 15-year old Hope Crimbchin, of Winfield, and 17-year old Kayla Mickey, of Saxonburg, laugh as their friend 17-year old Marissa Heckathorne, of Penn Township, celebrates a win during the Birthday Game at the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
10-week old red fox labrador retriever Sidney gets walked by owner Airica Cooper, 23, of Buffalo Township, during the pet parade held during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review
Kyler Robinson, 6, and Logan Truitt, 6, from Seven Fields ride the swings at the Seven Fields community carnival on June 9, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Disp
Maggie Schwal, 7, of Jefferson Township, holds her 10-month old Toy Australian Shepherd, Molly, during the pet parade held during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
11-year old Casey Fox lines up a shot as (center) 11-year old Jennifer Lasiter and her twin sister (right) Elizabeth, all of New Mexico but visiting family in Jefferson Township, during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Disp
Charity Montgomery, 5, and her 2-year-old brother, Blake, of Winfield, ride in the Air Taxi beneath a rainbow at the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Company Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Disp
Craig Davison, of Evans City, holds his 9-month old daughter Kileigh as she reaches out towards the merry-go-round during the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Comany Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Disp
Emily Ivory, 10, of Mars, left, and friend Grace Phillips, 11, of Saxonburg, enjoy a ride at the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Company Fireman's Carnival on Monday June 10, 2013.
Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review
(Left to right) Goutham Meruva, Udaya Sri, Keerthana Kumar, and Hemanth Siddulugari from Seven Fields throw ping pong balls into small fishbowls at the Seven Fields community carnival on June 9, 2013.
Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review
Anya Conway, 9, and Billy Conway, 4, jump around at the Seven Fields community carnival on June 9, 2013.
Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review
Levi Whittingham, 3, from Mars pauses and looks down as he climbs to the top of a balloon slide at the Seven Fields community carnival on June 9, 2013.
Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review
Fireworks explode over Seven Fields community carnival on June 8, 2013 as spectators watch from the parking lots of nearby businesses on Route 228.

For Kristine Butler, early June would not be the same without the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Company's carnival.

“I've being coming to this ever since I was a little girl. Now my own three girls can't wait to come to the carnival. There is something going there every day of the week,” said Butler, who is 33 and a paramedic with the department.

The carnival, now in its 82nd year, includes events such as beauty pageants, pet parades, raffles for cars and motorcycles and more than 20 rides.

“I went as a kid. It's a place for everyone in Saxonburg to get together. To me, it means a lot. When you grow up with something like that, you just don't want to see it leave,” said Carol Neubert, the carnival's chairperson.

On the other side of Butler County, the borough of Seven Fields started its community carnival three years ago, and it is held each June at Seven Fields Towne Park. From June 7 through June 9, visitors enjoyed rides, games, food, live music and a 20-minute fireworks show.

“We are building momentum. The carnival is really becoming more popular,” said borough manager Tom Smith.

Each year the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Ride & Measurement Standards registers more than 700 amusement operations with rides in the state, including amusement parks and hundreds of fairs and carnivals with temporary rides.

Many carnivals such as Saxonburg's are designed as fundraising events, but others, like the one in Seven Fields, are run by the community. Organizers of municipal carnivals like Smith generally say their objective is to provide a community service.

Seven Fields spends about $17,000 to have the carnival and gets that same amount back from ticket sales, Smith said.

“We pretty much break even. It is not costing us anything,” he said.

Neubert, who owns a hardware store, spends much of the year planning for the Saxonburg carnival.

There are fewer carnivals than there used to be, she said.

“It is a lot of work. It's worth it. Going to Kennywood or Idlewild is lots of fun, but that is not the same as having a carnival in your own town,” she said.

The carnival lasts six days and ran from Monday through Saturday.

One of its unique events is the water battle.

Two teams of firefighters compete to push a barrel over the heads of the competing team by blasting fire hoses at it.

“That's always fun to watch. They just never want to give up,” Butler said.

The event's organizers and department members say they are proud to have kept the event affordable.

Admission was $2, and all-day ride passes were $15, or $10 in advance.

Neubert says she hopes the fair will raise $50,000 for the fire department.

The profits include money raised in a raffle of a Chevy Camaro and a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

As popular as the carnival is, it's not the fire department's biggest fundraiser.

The Saxonburg Fireman's Sportsman's Fest, a gun bash held in September, raises about $100,000 for the department.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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