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With Gamber cancellation, Carroll County carnival season washed out

Gamber and Community Fire Company has canceled its 2020 carnival as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, officially ending Carroll County’s fire company carnival season without a single one being held.

Gamber was the last of Carroll County’s fire companies still considering postponing its carnival to the fall.

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Traditionally, Gamber’s carnival is the first of the summer season in Carroll. With concerns about the novel coronavirus and restrictions on large group gatherings, the company originally delayed it to the week of Sept. 7 to 12.

Clay Myers, public information officer for the fire company, said they are sorry to see it canceled but there are “just too many restrictions.”

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COVID-19 has persisted here, with case totals climbing since the end of June. And the Carroll County Health Department announced 47 new cases among community members this week through Tuesday, already more than last week’s total.

Carnivals serve as the single largest annual fundraiser for the Carroll companies that hold one, and Myers said Gamber is looking at a difficult year. In addition to the carnival, their weekly bingo is indefinitely on hold, taking away a smaller but more steady source of fundraising.

Reese and Community Volunteer Fire Company, which hosts the largest of the county’s fire carnivals, had also hoped to postpone until the fall. But on July 9 it announced that, for the first time in 70 years, there would be no carnival in Reese for 2020.

In the absence, Gamber, like many fire companies, are selling their usual carnival food this summer as a fundraiser and holding their raffle.

Every other Wednesday, they partner with Maryland Mobile Food Vending Association to host a Grab and Go Food Truck Night from 4:3-8:30 p.m. in their rear parking lot. The next is set for Wednesday, July 22.

They are also looking to schedule a third pit beef and turkey drive-thru event in August, Myers said.

To offset some of the losses, the 14 fire companies are set to receive a share of the county’s funding from the federal coronavirus relief legislation. The county received $934,000 in response to the request for funding to cover lost revenue.

Normally, the county funds operating costs for the fire companies, but building and equipment costs are covered by fundraising throughout the year.

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