Gamber and Community Fire Company hosts 52nd annual carnival, kicks off the season

The Gamber Community and Fire Co.'s 52nd annual carnival kicked off this past weekend and will continue until June 2.

By Memorial Day, the Gamber and Community Fire Company’s carnival was already in full swing.

With rides like the classic Ferris wheel, Sizzler, Super Slide and Tornado — and games like the dime pitch, ring-a-bottle, and the plant wheel — the grounds were full of local residents supporting the company’s cause before nightfall on Monday.


“It’s a nice day, not too hot, not too cold,” said Ann Tiboni, an Eldersburg resident and kindergarten teacher, while sitting at some benches under a pavilion with her husband, sister and parents.

She said her family’s tradition for the past 10 years has been to go to the carnival and then to her parents’ house in Sykesville to watch the fireworks after, because they have a great view of the Memorial Day show from their porch.

Tiboni said she was also glad to see that after an issue with the family who rents out the rides last year — when halfway through the eight-day festival the Ferris wheel disappeared — all the rides were restored for this summer.

“It’s a family-owned business,” said Bruce Bouch, spokesman for Gamber Community and Fire Company. “Whatever happened was resolved.”

He didn’t go into detail about problems from last year, but said he was grateful everything is fixed because the carnival is the fire company’s second largest fundraiser after its bingo event.

“It’s extremely important to have the money coming in,” he said, “because what we do and need to function is very expensive.”

In addition to fighting fires, Bouch said the Gamber and Community Fire Company has been training members of other fire departments over the past few years how to perform water rescues. The company also offers services like free home fire safety checkups.

“It’s not just only about the fire company,” he said, “it’s about taking care of the county.”

Some services even extend farther than Carroll County’s boundaries.

When Ellicott City was flooded on Sunday evening after a massive rainstorm, Gamber sent responders out to assist in efforts there.

Bouch said Gamber has also gone to Patapsco State Park, Baltimore County, Baltimore City and even as far as some parts of Pennsylvania in the past, and will continue to do so to support nearby communities.

But another big part of taking care of the county, he said, is taking time to honor its fallen soldiers and veterans on Memorial Day.

“Beginning with Memorial Day weekend,” said Bouch, “we like to remember what it’s about, that the people who are no longer with us made it so we can have the freedoms we have to have a carnival like this.”

Around 7 p.m. at the center of the grounds, Westminster residents Mason Sullivan and Christian Heck, both 15, were thinking of what to do next. Heck had just won a large black mug from the dime pitch.


“I just think there’s a lot of spirit and good communication within the community because everyone’s together,” Heck said.

The duo have been coming to the carnivals at Gamber for the past seven years.

Heck’s favorite part of the carnival is the food, specifically the funnel cake, he said.

“The people and the pizza” are Sullivan’s favorites.

When asked what’s next on the agenda, Sullivan said they would, “maybe just chill, ride on the rides.”

Not more than 20 feet away, young Julia Horst, 2, and her mother Melissa were standing near a game holding three goldfish that they won in about five minutes.

“This is our favorite game,” Melissa Horst said. “We put them right in the pond at home.”

Home for the Horsts is also in Westminster, and although it’s her daughter’s first year being able to enjoy the rides at the carnival, Horst has been coming to the Gamber Fire Carnival for a long time.

“The food is good and it goes to a good cause,” she said. “It’s fun for everyone.”