Rains wash out carnival profits Loss: A rainy spring and summer have kept residents away from fairs and have hurt the fund-raising efforts of volunteer fire companies around the county.

July 22, 1996|By Nora Koch | Nora Koch,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Every year, 11 of Carroll County's 14 volunteer fire departments hold weeklong carnivals to raise funds. The games, rides and food attract hordes of people -- unless it rains.

And this year it has rained, curtailing attendance at many carnivals and leaving some fire companies with lower profits than usual. The spring and summer carnivals are major fund-raisers, and fire officials said they don't expect to recover lost profits.

"It is a loss we won't recuperate," said John Perry, chairman of Taneytown's carnival, which fell short of its goal by $20,000 this year. "It will affect everything. It won't interfere with response time, but with maintenance and general equipment."

Taneytown typically grosses about $90,000 from its June carnival. This year, however, rain on three nights kept crowds away. The loss on one night was estimated at about $10,000.

Robert Althoff, vice president of the Sykesville fire company, said light drizzle two nights and showers a third night cost the carnival about $13,000, a significant dent in the Fire Department's annual operating budget.

"That's a lot of money to make up. We're going to have to do without a few luxuries," he said.

This month, Manchester's carnival lost about $3,000 because of the weather.

A light drizzle two nights didn't deter people but heavy rain another night scared crowds away, even though the storm eventually passed and a band was ready to play.

"Overall, we were satisfied with the carnival," said Ralph Dull, the fire company's treasurer. "[The profit] is just a little under from last year. With no rain we probably would have equaled last year's."

Gary Rains, president of Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department, estimated carnival revenues dropped by 75 percent because of violent thunderstorms on opening night early this month.

A rock band, The Rhythms, never struck a note that night but still had to be paid its $2,500 fee, he said.

To accommodate carnival goers and draw people back to the event, the company extended ride night and honored Monday coupons Thursday of carnival week.

Other carnivals fared better.

"This year was a little better than last year, even losing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday [due to rain.] We had terrific Friday and Saturday nights," said Earl Fritz, treasurer of Union Bridge Fire Company, which held its carnival in May.

Gamber Fire Company's carnival in May reached its $35,000 goal, even though some events were rained out, Ed Kreczmer, company president, said, noting the events were rescheduled.

The carnival accounts for about 30 percent of Gamber's operating budget, he added.

Despite an electrical power outage and heavy rains that forced the carnival to shut down one evening, New Windsor Fire Chief Ronnie Blacksten called it "a record year."

Although revenues were down at the beginning of the week, the June carnival "had a good Friday and Saturday night that picked up the loss," the fire chief said.

Harney's June carnival also was affected by the weather.

Rain washed out opening night, preventing the stands or rides from opening. However, the weather cooperated for the rest of the week.

"Last year we had six nights with rain, so we were just tickled that we picked a good week for once," said James Waybright, company president.

Three carnivals remain for this summer.

Reese Volunteer Fire Department's carnival opens today and runs through Saturday. Rides and games open at 6: 30 p.m. Information: 848-7172.

Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company's carnival opens today and runs through Saturday. Dinner is at 5 p.m. Rides and games open at 6 p.m. A parade is at 5 p.m. Saturday. Information: (301) 829-0100.

Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department's carnival is Aug. 12-17. Dinner is at 6. p.m., rides and games open at 7 p.m. A fire prevention queen contest is Aug. 13, and a parade will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 14. Information: 239-4280.

Pub Date: 7/22/96

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