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Manchester Carnival remains a tradition in community

July marks the return of the annual Manchester Volunteer Fire Department carnival, a long-standing Manchester tradition. Just how long standing however, is a bit of a mystery.

"We did an internal survey here at the town to figure out how long we've been having the carnival and actually we know we've been running the carnival for at least 60 years, if not longer. Seventy five years by some counts," said Steve Miller, a town administrator for Manchester, carnival co-chairman and vice president of the Manchester fire department.

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At one point, there were actually two summer carnivals in Manchester, the Volunteer Fire Department Carnival in June-July and the Lion's Club Carnival in August, according to Miller.

Today, only the fire department's carnival remains and is an important source of funding for the department.

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"This is our largest and best attended fundraiser of the year," Miller said.

An important part of that fundraising effort are the carnival rides, which for the past 30 years have been run by Russ Amusements of Wellsville, Pa.

"It just makes it a good community event. Anybody that comes to the Manchester carnival sees that the firemen put 100 percent effort into it and when you support the fire company in Manchester you see where the money is going," said Jim Boyer, owner/operator of Russ Amusements.

Rides this year will include favorites like The Zipper as well as the new Baja Buggy, a smaller ride for children and adults, according to Boyer.

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While Russ amusements will handle the rides, fire department volunteers will handle that other important component of the carnival, the food.

"We take care of running the food stands. We have our kitchen and do nightly platters. We do the sodas, hamburgers and hot dogs and our famous funnel cakes," Miller said.

The carnival will open at 6 p.m. and run until 11 p.m. every night from July 2 through July 7, with several special event nights, according to Miller.

"Monday night, July 2 is our Fire Queen contest, where we crown a, younger queen, then a middle aged fire queen, and then our senior queen. That's always interesting," Miller said.

The carnival parade will be held Wednesday July 4 at 7 p.m. and a fireworks show on July 5 at the end of the evening.

"We don't really put a time on the fireworks because we don't want to lead people astray, but usually between 10 and 11," Miller said.

The rain date for the fireworks will be Friday, July 6.

Musical entertainment this year will include country acts, Dean Crawford and the Dunn's River and the Ritchie Fields band, though the overall lineup will be varied.

"We try to do a mix on our entertainment. We have country, we have bluegrass, we have some rock and we do some different things for different crowds," Miller said.

Instead of a special rides night, carnival goers will have the option to buy tickets for individual rides or to purchase a wristband for $18 that will be good for unlimited rides that night.

"Every night is ride night," Miller said.

More information on the carnival schedule and lineup of musical performers can be found on the fire department's website, http://www.manchestervfd.org/apps/public/news/newsView.cfm?News_ID=6.

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