NORTH EAST — After almost a decade, the North East Fire Company carnival is back in town, with aims to once again become a hallmark event.
Starting on Tuesday, visitors can climb aboard old favorites like “Gravitron” and “Round Up,” try their luck at games or eat their fill of funnel cake at the carnival off Mauldin Avenue.
The festivities benefit the North East Fire Company’s upcoming plans for its 100th anniversary celebration, coming up in 2022. But for NEFC Board of Directors member and carnival organizer Jeff Issacs, the event is more than just a throwback to earlier times.
“I hope it can bring people together as neighbors and build camaraderie with the firemen,” Issacs said. “The carnival was always a fun event for family and friends. My hope is to bring it back for a second year.”
The NEFC carnival was a mainstay in the county for decades, tracing back to 1921. Back then, George Owens of North East called to organize a fire company after a barn burned down in town. The first carnival raised $5,060.29 to organize the fire company, according to the Historical Society of Cecil County.
The carnival was held almost every year, but Issacs said there were some off-years due to World War II and the Great Depression. He grew up with the carnival, helping his father with wiring it.
“It was always very exciting. You could do the dime pitches in these cool glasses and win a prize, and you’d get the famous carnival pizza and french fries,” he said. “Of course, everything was less expensive there, and you could ride ‘The Zipper’ and ‘The Flying Bobs’ as much as you wanted.”
Past NEFC carnivals also included a firework show that packed the place. Cars lined the roads to get a good view of the show.
Issacs later organized the carnival in 1995 and 1996, which was its 75th anniversary. NEFC stopped hosting the annual event in 2000, but it made a one-year comeback in 2010.
“Times were changing, and it’s harder to organize because it’s a lot to organize,” he said. “I never wanted this to quit, but it’s quite a task.”
The NEFC carnival, which will be staged by Houghton Enterprises, will bring back some old favorites with rides and games.
Festival favorite food like cotton candy and candy apples will be on tap, but so will the famous carnival pizza. Bingo, an old favorite, can be played at 50 cents a game.
All-day ride wristbands are $25, while all-week ride wristbands are $50.
The NEFC carnival runs from July 2 to July 6, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 3 to 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday.
Paired with the annual Salute to Cecil County Veterans ceremony and fireworks show, Issacs hopes the carnival will add some additional fun for local families on Wednesday, July 3.
Intersections around the carnival grounds off Maudlin Avenue will be blocked off for pedestrian traffic and a security team will be on site monitoring the crowd.