A dreary, but delicious start to the New Windsor carnival

The New Windsor fire company's annual carnival kicked off Monday despite Mother Nature seeming bent on raining on a potential good time.

In the face of heavy rain and the threat of scattered thunderstorms, dozens of visitors made the trip to the carnival grounds even before the event officially opened. Their first stop: the food stand.


Jeb Hartzler, a 20-year member of the fire company, said of all the menu items available, the homemade crab cake is by the far the most popular.

The carnival has sold the Maryland specialty since Hartzler started lending a hand in the mid 1990s, but its popularity has grown, he said.

The fire company now sells about 700 pounds of crab meat a week, he said, with 140 pounds made up for Monday, historically the slowest day of the carnival.

Whether they sell out of the crab cakes depends in part on the weather, Hartzler said, but rain has not stopped people from attending in the past.

The forecast as of Monday for New Windsor this week calls for a chance of rain and thunderstorms through the end of the carnival Saturday.

"I'm still hoping for a good turnout," Hartzler said. "People still eat, so it doesn't matter."

Another popular stop for a bite to eat is the fire company's pit beef stand. Mike Steele Jr., a volunteer firefighter for 10 years, said he and his father, Mike Steele Sr., started the stand in 2011 to make the New Windsor event comparable to those in other communities.

"Every other carnival had it, but we didn't," Mike Steele Jr. said.

The father and son slice between 700 and 800 pounds of beef during the week, which translates to about 1,500 sandwiches, the younger Steele said.

Mike Steele Sr. said the weather can certainly affect the fundraising efforts of the fire company, but many people — if they can find a window between rain showers — will still make the week worthwhile.

""If we can get a window where it isn't thundering or raining, we might sell pretty well," he said.