Last year, the Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department hosted the only carnival in the southern part of the county, according to organizers, and it was a smashing success.
“There were lines for food to the parking lot,” said Joe McCauley, carnival chairman. “I was apologizing to people, but they were OK with it. They were just so glad to be out.”
This year, with the pandemic seemingly under control, the carnival season is back in full swing. Gamber and Community Fire Company kicked the season off on Memorial Day weekend. The New Windsor Fire Company carnival opened Thursday and runs through Saturday.
Carnivals are being held almost weekly throughout the summer. And that’s a good thing, according to Sykesville Public information Officer Bill Rehkopf.
“It’s not a competition. It’s camaraderie,” Rehkopf said. “Every department does this as a fundraiser to help provide services for the community.”
Each county fire department, excluding Westminster, which does not host a carnival, has its ‘week.’ Sykesville traditionally has the third week of June, Rehkopf said. This year it is a week earlier — overlapping with Taneytown’s carnival — due to its contract with the amusement rides.
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“Taneytown is going on in the north,” Rehkopf said. “I don’t feel it hurts them with us having one.”
Opening Saturday, Sykesville’s carnival runs through June 18, with the grounds opening at 6 p.m. and rides starting at 7 p.m. Typically, the carnival offers at least 23 rides. This year, there are only 18 due to staffing issues, McCauley said, but there will be a mix of rides that caters to adults and children. Live music will take place every night and a fireworks show is scheduled for Friday, with a rain date of Saturday.
The Sykesville Fire Department will offer its popular funnel cakes. The Freedom District Lions Club will be back selling French fries and a local church group will sell ice cream.
“We get the community involved,” McCauley said.
Weather is always a concern, McCauley said, and some years have been a washout. Running eight nights helps, especially if rain or extreme temperatures affect a few nights.
“We hope for great weather and lots of people,” Rehkopf said. “It’s one of our largest fundraisers.”
The Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department Carnival runs Saturday through June 18 at 6680 Sykesville Road, Sykesville.