This year the 90th Fireman’s Carnival will run from July 11th until July 21st (closed on Sunday). It will be the 50th year that the carnival will be located on Crosby Road next to Bing Crosby Stadium.
The Fire Department (then called the Relief Fire Department) held fundraisers like “lawn parties” and “horse shows” since the first year the Department was started in 1892. In 1929, the Department contracted with Hendrick’s Minstrel Show and “$10,000.00 Merry-go-Round”, which was our first true carnival. That first carnival was held on the lawn of the court house on Main Street.
Inners Shows will provide the rides again this year. There will be 16 rides with an additional “mechanical bull”. These are some samples of the rides that will be at the carnival:
We also have bingo games every night of the carnival that are played for prizes. Mechille Smeltzer, chair of the bingo stand, welcomes everyone to come and sit in the bingo pavilion to enjoy a fun game of carnival bingo. “It’s a great way to spend some quality time to sit under the fans and play a couple of bingo games, maybe finish off your supper (from the cook building), while socializing with family and friends.”
One of the major draws to the carnival is our famous fireman’s relish. Be sure to come down early and get you a pint of relish as we have run out towards the end of the carnival over the past few years. It might be best to get an extra pint so you can help out a friend that misses out! The mustard-based relish is a recipe handed down over many years and has become very popular. Three members of our Department, Hugh Williams, Skillet Henry and Gary Keyser, receive credit for the origin of this delicious condiment.
Why are the hot dogs so great? “We buy only quality dogs and burgers,” Eddie Henry says, and he should know as he has been in charge of purchasing the carnival food for over 26 years. “There is no chicken or turkey in our hot dogs; only 100% beef in the hamburgers with no fillers, and we buy #1 grade french fries”.
Deputy Chief Derek Mabie, cook building co-chairman, has set the goal of opening up the cook building by 5pm every day. “We run a little late sometimes, but we work towards having the cook building open so you can stop by and pick up supper for the family.”
Mike Utley, who has been cooking hamburgers at the carnival for over 30 years, shares that he takes some of his vacation time every year to help in the cook building. “It’s a lot of fun… yes, it’s a lot of hard work, but none-the-less we have a great time working in the cook building. It used to be extremely hot behind the cook grills until David Santmyers of DDS installed air conditioners (at no charge); now it is not too bad with the heat.”
The fireworks display will be set off on Thursday night, July 19th, at about 10 pm. “We have to adjust the timing of the fireworks around other users of the stadium”, stated Joie Starcher carnival co-chair, “and we want to make sure it’s good and dark so the show is at its best display”.
On a side note, this is the 50th consecutive year that the author of this article, Hoss Feldhauser, has helped with the Front Royal Fireman’s Carnival. For more information, contact Hoss!
Hoss Feldhauser, Life Member
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