Carnivals are big attractions in Saxonburg, Seven Fields
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.