Good eating awaits at Harney Volunteer Fire Company Carnival

HARNEY — Just a few days after the summer solstice, the sunny hours stretched long over the opening day of the Harney Volunteer Fire Company Carnival.

The sky was just starting to turn cotton candy pinks and blues on the evening of Monday, June 25, as guests left for the evening with watermelons, goldfish and sugary treats of their own in hand.


“It’s a very family-friendly atmosphere,” said treasurer and carnival Chairman Leonard Bowers.

The carnival began Monday and will run through Saturday. It starts at 6 p.m. each night, though dinner in the dining hall begins at 4:30 p.m.

Though the mechanical bull is absent this year, the number of inflatable attractions has doubled to eight and includes a giant slide and a bounce house.

Fun Events, a local Taneytown company has provided the attractions for several years now.

Matt Griffin, who was running ticket sales Monday, said there was a steady crowd of middle school and under patrons. All night wristbands and single ticket sales will be available all week.

The carnival is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Harney fire company, the only Carroll fire company that is entirely volunteer staffed with no paid members.

“Food and gambling, that’s what we’re known for,” Bowers said, laughing. Though many of the carnivals have moved to silent auctions, Harney still hosts its money bingo.

The carnival is also home to other unique attractions like the turtle races and the Watermelon Wheel, which guests can spin for just a quarter. A small crowd gathered around the carefully stacked glass plates and cups at the dime pitch.

Stacy Workman was watching over a wagon filled with cotton candy and a freshly won watermelon while her kids enjoyed one of the bounce houses. The family tries to make it to the carnival every year.

“The turtle game is my favorite, but the kids love the bouncy houses,” she said.

Onstage, the Hanover Express Bluegrass Band spoke to the crowd of listeners seated in colorful lines of lawn chairs.

“We’re all having fun tonight?” the bandleader asked before they launched into another set.

For many that came out Monday night, the food was the main attraction, and a whole row of stands advertised sandwiches, fries and ice cream as well as the pit beef and crab cakes the carnival is best known for. One offering, the Belly Buster, is a hamburger topped with fried ham.

Inside the activities hall, a line stretched 20 people deep for the hot dinner options. A long line also formed near the raffle run by the Harney Lions Club.


Sandy Kump was enjoying the hot roast beef with gravy Monday night, and said the food was the biggest draw for her.

“I’ve been coming to this carnival since before I can remember,” she said.

Doug and Nita Gross were also taking time to sample the food before they helped out at the VFW tent.

“They have the best carnival food by far,” Doug Gross said. “It’s a good, hometown crowd.”

He estimates he has been coming for nearly 50 years since he was in his early teens.

One of the newest additions to the edible lineup is the funnel cake trailer, which has only been an offering for two or three years. For those who can’t finish an entire plate of the sugary treat, Harney offers a miniature size, made on a stainless steel mold custom made by one of its members.

They’ve been selling surprisingly well, Bowers said. His son was working the funnel cake stand Monday night, and this kind of generational volunteering isn’t unique. Many of the carnival volunteers are second or third generation and have been coming to the carnival since they were small children.

Working alongside the members to staff the carnival are just as many volunteers from the community.

Though the volunteers will work through the night Saturday to pack up the carnival without a trace, there will be an appreciation dinner for everyone involved.

“It’s one way for us to say thank you,” Charles Blocher, the vice president of the fire company said.