The sounds of people shrieking on a fast-paced ride, the smell of french fries, the beat of country and rock 'n' roll oldies, and the clickity-click of game wheels signal the return of carnival season in Carroll County.
Memorial Day weekend is here, and with it the opening of the firefighters' carnival season. Eleven of the 14 volunteer fire stations in Carroll offer a week of fun, games, rides, food and music at their biggest fund-raisers of the year.
The season starts with Union Bridge and Gamber, both opening tomorrow and continuing through Saturday.
For parade buffs, Union Bridge offers not one, but two parades during the week. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Union Memorial Post 8806 puts on a Memorial Day parade at 6 p.m. tomorrow from the Lehigh entrance on Route 75 to the post home on Primrose Avenue.
Then at 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Union Bridge firefighters have their parade, which follows a winding route through town for viewing the fire apparatus, marching bands, antique cars and floats.
"The parade will form at the community center and move out at 7 p.m. sharp," said Earle Fritz, company publicity chairman. "I should have about 100 units this year, including some new bands."
The parade route is west on Locust Street to Lightner Street, north on Lightner to Broadway, west on Broadway, crossing over Main Street at the square to Whyte Street, south on Whyte to Locust Street, east on Locust to Penrose, disbanding in front of the post office and VFW hall.
During the week, music will be provided by the Dixie Rebels tomorrow, Bootleg on Tuesday, the Dixie Kats on Wednesday, )) No Alibi on Thursday, Southern Horizon on Friday and Bob Plunkert & Real Country on Saturday.
Union Bridge also offers lunch from 11: 30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and buffet dinners from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. all six days on the West Locust Street grounds. Ride night is Tuesday and Thursday. A bus from Lehigh to the carnival grounds is available on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
To celebrate Memorial Day, Gamber puts on a fireworks extravaganza tomorrow night by Fireworks Productions. Tomorrow also offers a ride night for $9 and rock and popular music by Earth. Penn Wood Amusement offers 23 rides on the carnival grounds on Route 32 and Niner Road.
For the rest of the week, music will be offered by Great Train Robbery on Tuesday, Big Cam & the Lifters on Wednesday, Bob Plunkert & Real Country on Thursday, Bobby and the Hot Rods on Friday and Stillwater on Saturday.
Information: Union Bridge, 410-775-7422; Gamber, 410-795-3445.
The carnival is the most important fund-raiser of the year for all 11 fire companies since the county pays 85 percent of the companies' operating budgets (90 percent starting July 1), and the stations must pay the remainder of their operating expenses, plus buy their own equipment.
So, carnival organizers hope for good weather during their week, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, when the most money is raised. Saturday also is the night that cash raffle drawings are held, offering top prizes of $2,000 to $5,000.
Depending on the size of the carnival, fire companies can bring in $20,000 to $100,000 profit over six days.
Here's the schedule for the remainder of the season:
* June 1-6: New Windsor, Atlee Avenue. Lunch is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and dinner platters at 4 p.m., rides and games open at 6 p.m., and a parade is at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The company is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Information: 410-635-6373.
* June 8-13: Taneytown, Memorial Park, Route 140. Dinner is at 4 p.m., games and rides open at 7 p.m., and a parade is at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Information: 410-756-6253.
* June 15-20: Sykesville, Route 32 and Freedom Avenue. Dinner is at 6 p.m., games and rides open at 7 p.m. Information: 410-795-8021.
* June 22-27: Harney, 5130 Harney Road. Dinner is at 4 p.m., rides and games open at 7: 30 p.m. President Jim Waybright promises a "bigger and better" carnival this year. Information: 410-756-6464.
* June 29-July 4: Manchester, York Street. Dinner is at 4 p.m., rides and games open at 7 p.m. (4 p.m. July 4), and a parade is at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Information: 410-239-2286.
* July 6-11: Winfield, 1320 W. Old Liberty Road. Dinner is at 5 p.m., rides and games open at 7 p.m., a fire prevention queen contest is Monday, a parade is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and fireworks are Friday night. The popular Hubcaps play on opening night. Information: 410-795-1333.
* July 20-25: Reese, Route 140. Rides and games open at 7 p.m. Reese also is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Information: 410-848-7172.
"We've been told we're the second biggest carnival in the state," said Bob Alexander, a company trustee. "We're second only to the Glen Burnie Improvement Association carnival, and they run two weekends."
* July 20-25: Mount Airy, Route 27 and Twin Arch Road. Dinners are served at 5 p.m. nightly, rides and games open at 7 p.m., and a parade is at 7 p.m. Thursday. Information: 301-829-0100.
* Aug. 10-15: Hampstead, 1341 N. Main St. Dinner is at 6 p.m., rides and games open at 7 p.m., a fire prevention queen contest is Tuesday and a parade is at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Information: 410-239-4280.
Pub Date: 5/24/98