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Carroll County fire companies continue to cancel carnivals, even as restrictions on outdoor events loosen

Even though Gov. Larry Hogan has lifted some coronavirus-related restrictions across the state, fire companies in Carroll County continue to cancel their summer carnivals, which for many organizations are their largest fundraisers each year.

On Wednesday, Hogan announced that Marylanders, as of 5 p.m. Friday, would be allowed to return to most stores and office jobs, get tattoos and have their nails done. He previously acted to permit outdoor dining at restaurants, a limited return of youth sports and camps, and the reopening of pools and drive-in movie theaters.

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There is still some uncertainty for the future, causing some other fire departments to postpone their carnivals rather than cancel.

Gamber

Instead of canceling, the Gamber and Community Fire Company decided to postpone their carnival, which is now scheduled to run from Sept. 7 to Sept. 12.

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“We were going to cancel but when the opportunity came up, an available week with our rides company, which was the Sept. 7 week, we decided to book that date,” said Clay Myers, public information officer for the Gamber fire company.

According to Clay, the department isn’t sure what a carnival in September will look like right now, due to the continuous changes as the state works to reopen. The decision was made last month when the department knew they weren’t going to be able to make their regular date.

Reese

Like Gamber, The Reese and Community Fire Company also made the decision to postpone the carnival rather than cancel. The carnival was postponed to Sept. 21 to 26.

The decision was made late April or early May, according to Robin Stansbury, chief information officer for the fire company.

Stansbury said that the department postponed after so many other departments canceled and they couldn’t perceive the status of the state in the future.

Harney

The Harney Volunteer Fire Company decided in mid-May to cancel their carnival.

“Unfortunately, it’s a big, big event,” said Brad Waybright, public information officer for the fire company. “I’m 37 and there’s been at least 37 in a row that I’ve attended, so it’ll be sad. It’s a community event where everyone comes together and we have a lot of people that aren’t normally that active but they always come out and help during the carnival, which is needed. So it’s just a good time for everyone to get together and it’s not gonna happen, unfortunately.”

According to Waybright, they decided to cancel the carnival rather than postpone because they didn’t want to “cram too much in” after they moved a big feed event from May to August, as well as others for in September and October.

As part of their other fundraising efforts, they will hold a drive-through where they will offer pit sandwiches, featuring some of the food they offer at their carnival like pit turkey and pit ham, along with sides and drinks. The drive-through is scheduled for June 27.

They also will hold a lottery drawing for a bushel of crabs next week, before Father’s Day.

Union Bridge

The Union Bridge Fire Company decided to cancel its carnival, leaving a gap in its funding outlook.

Mayor Perry Jones, a member of the fire company, said they are going to have to find other ways to make the remainder of the money that the department needs, but that will be difficult because they will have to compete with other fire companies’ activities that are also being affected due to COVID-19.

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New Windsor

The New Windsor Fire Department canceled all department fundraising events, including their fundraiser which was scheduled for June 1 to June 6.

According to statement from the department, the board unanimously voted to cancel all department fundraising events. These cancellations go beyond the department’s carnival — the annual Crab Feed, scheduled for July, is also off the calendar.

Mount Airy

The Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company decided to cancel their carnival, which was scheduled for July 20 to July 25, on May 28.

“Basically, we realized that our sponsors that we count on every year, can’t sponsor us,” said Doug Alexander, public information officer for the fire company. “We had a lot of restaurants that supported our carnival and other businesses that have been depressed due to the COVID-19 situation.”

Alexander added that they also couldn’t make all the necessary changes to have a safe carnival, including distancing, cleaning rides after each use, adding plexiglass to food stands, and providing masks and gloves for workers. A carnival like this wouldn’t have raised enough money “to justify all the effort” they would have to put into it, he said.

The department are considering other alternatives to raise funds such as their raffle to be conducted by mail, drive-through chicken dinners one Sunday a month, drive-up spaghetti dinners and some kind of Christmas raffle, according to Alexander.

Taneytown

The Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company decided to cancel their carnival.

“We could not wait any longer because we have to order everything well in advance,” said Mike Glass, public information officer for the fire company.

Instead of a carnival, they will be offering various meals from a drive-through, where cars will just have to pull up.

“That’s what our backup plan for the carnival is,” said Glass. “We’re not gonna make anything close to $100,000 like we normally gross but whatever helps, it helps. This is our biggest fundraiser and unfortunately we’re not having it this year.”

Sykesville

The Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department decided to cancel their carnival as well early last month.

“Our board of directors decided it was a needed decision to make because we want to keep everybody safe," said Kevin Shiloh, department president.

According to Shiloh, the fundraising committee is working on alternative events to raise money.

Representatives from the Manchester and Hampstead volunteer fire companies could not be reached for comment but both carnivals were also canceled, according to their websites.

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