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Arbutus carnival attendance down

Attendance at last week's Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department carnival was down about 20 percent from a typical year, the department's president said.

A mid-week fight that started between two teenage girls and spilled into an adjoining street, drawing a crowd of more than 50 people, prompted department leaders to consider shutting down the carnival on Thursday night.

News of the brawl spread rapidly on social media and the carnival attracted fewer people Thursday, the night after the altercation, despite a doubling of security officers.

John McDowell, the department's president, said a number of factors can impact attendance. He said Saturday's hot and rainy weather put a damper on crowds for that night.

Attendance at the carnival July 21, a day after the fight, was about half the size of a typical Thursday night crowd of "a couple thousand," Glen Peacock, chairman of the fire department's carnival committee, said in a previous interview.

The annual carnival is a major fundraiser for the department, typically bringing between $25,000 and $35,000 in profit, Peacock said. McDowell said numbers for this year have yet to be tallied and won't be final until the end of August.

Baltimore County Police, who were called to the altercation and later provided more officers, would not provide information about the number of officers assigned or their deployment tactics, a spokeswoman said.

The fire department has encouraged feedback from the public on its website. The carnival committee will review comments and incorporate suggestions into future events.

"It is too early to discuss those lessons learned as we are still gathering and assessing them," McDowell said in an email.

In an unrelated incident, police arrested a juvenile who kicked a police car at the carnival on the same night as the fight, the spokeswoman said, adding charges are pending.

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