Ava and Masselon Lawson and their three daughters might have been the most unique family to visit the annual Big Glen Burnie Carnival's opening day Saturday. They were there for the first time.
The carnival, which runs through Thursday, is a Glen Burnie tradition that dates to 1908, according to signs decorating B & A Boulevard and Crain Highway. And nearly everyone who was there was carrying on "A Family Tradition," as another sign put it.
"We were on our way to the movies, but we couldn't get in," said Mrs. Lawson, a Baltimore resident, referring to the Loews theater nearby. "We looked over here and saw the carnival and decided to just come on over."
Mr. and Mrs. Lawson and the girls, Cantrell, 8, Chamir, 7, and Cherice, 3, were among hundreds who turned out for the opening day.
While it was their first visit to the carnival, Larry Wenger, of Glen Burnie, said he hasn't missed one in "about 30 years."
"Now, we're bringing the third generation," he added, pointing to his 5-year-old daughter, Sarah. "The prices are very reasonble. You might say it's a 'fair' fair."
Nearby, Lorie Ergott stood behind her 9-year-old daughter Shana Ergott and her cousin, Angel Ergott, also 9, as the girls sat down for a game of "Road Hogs." They rolled a ball into holes, each with a different point value, in hopes of advancing their own hog.
The girls didn't win, but the day wasn't a total loss. After all, Shana had won one of the wildly popular Troll dolls kids are collecting.
"I come out every year," said Ms. Ergott, of Glen Burnie. "Actually I go to a lot of different carnivals and fairs. But there's something about this one.
"They have a lot of different things here. And I really like the $4 price."
From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, you can ride all the rides for a mere $4. Any other time, you can ride for $6.
And the food, of which there is plenty, is relatively cheap. Hot dogs and small drinks can be had for 25 cents each. Even the crab cakes cost about half the price of crab cakes at a nearby fast-food restaurant.
The carnival also offers pony rides for the younger set and games of chance for those not quite so young.
Ryan Provenson has been coming to the carnival for nearly all his 9 years with his mother, Sherry Provenson, who said she has attended for about 35 years.
Mrs. Provenson, of Glen Burnie, said she hates to call her son lucky, but admits he has a skill when it comes to games of chance.
"He doesn't like the rides," she said. "He almost never gets on them. But he loves these games. And he always wins."
Mrs. Provenson held a stuffed bear and a baseball helmet as Ryan tried a new game, tossing a ring over the neck of a bottle. Ryan's friend, John Tomer, also 9, already had won a very large stuffed Fred Flintstone.
Mrs. Provenson said she comes back to the carnival each year because it offers something other carnivals can't -- a sense of community.
"It just feels like family," she said. "Some other carnivals just come into town with no real connection. But this is the same every year, at the same time and at the same place. You come and you run into old friends. I really like that."
But young Ryan likes to come to the carnival for an entirely different reason.
"It's easy to win stuff here," he said.