The heavy gray clouds ebbed and flowed Monday evening over the Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department Carnival, but the rain refused to fall on the fun as the rides got moving and the fried foods wafted sweet temptations into the air.
A very good start to the third night of eight for the carnival, according to Joe McCauley.
“If mother nature will stay away for all week we do good,” he said. “It’s a major fundraiser for us. Engines and medical equipment isn’t cheap ... It’s not cheap to run a fire house.”
The Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department, like the 13 other departments in Carroll County, are in fact nonprofit fire companies, hence the importance of carnival season in ensuring they can serve their communities, according to McCauley, a past president of the fire company in Sykesville.
But while the carnival is key to the fire company, it’s not all about the fire company.
“We’re here to support the community,” McCauley said. “We do this every year and the community comes back and has fun.”
The carnival grounds will open at 6 p.m. every evening through Saturday, June 22, with special $20 ride all night pricing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, according to McCauley.
“We do fireworks on Friday,” he said. “If it rains, we’ll do them Saturday.”
Kimberly Foster is part of the community the fire company serves — in fact she lives close enough to the carnival grounds to walk there with her daughters Lucy, 5, and Alice, 4, who were clamoring aboard a blue dinosaur ride almost as soon as it started running Monday evening.
“I tell them that we can come to this carnival three times. So we came on opening night, Saturday, we came tonight and then we’ll come on Thursday,” Foster said. “They like the rides and then the games and the lemonade. We always get a lemonade before we leave.”
The Knight family, Lauren, Tim and their 2-year-old daughter Lucy, of Woodbine, were at their second Sykesville carnival. They had just moved to the area two years before, Lauren said, and after surveying many of the county’s carnivals last summer, look forward to taking Lucy on more rides this year.
“Now she can get on a lot more,” Lauren said. “She has no fear.”
It wasn’t Steven Benden’s first time at the carnival, but it was his first time in a cream jumpsuit bedazzled with rhinestones and trying to keep cool in the muggy evening air.
“We’re doing an Elvis tribute concert for the Sykesville fire department,” said Wendy Olenik, holding up a flyer next to Benden promoting his show with his band, The Spin Outs, scheduled for Nov. 16. “Elvis is walking around promoting the concert. This is a way for us to let everyone know this is coming.”
Benden went to Sykesville Middle School, Liberty High School and served in the Air Force for more than three decades, but Monday was certainly his first time at the Sykesville carnival in a long time.
“I grew up coming to this carnival,” he said. “Every year, right up until I graduated high school and went into the Air Fforce.”
And on Monday, he came back as The King.