by Tina Cole-Mullins
Many years have passed since the once-annual carnival made its way to Stockbridge, and as the days of its return approached, residents could hardly could contain their excitement.
“The carnival has arrived. They will be setting up the rides and games and food the next couple days,” announced host American Legion Post 510, in early afternoon on June 22. “Come out and have fun at the carnival.”
At one time, the carnival had been a yearly event hosted by the Stockbridge American Legion beginning in 1949. The events gradually diminished until the last carnival was held in 1973.
Now, after the difficult days of the COVID pandemic and with successful events held in neighboring towns, organizers decided it was time for the carnival to make a comeback.
The dates were set for June 24, 25 and 26.
In the weeks prior to the event, local community organizations, groups and sponsoring businesses gathered donations to help offset the cost for families and distribute carnival wristbands. They were helped by a generous donation of “Golden VIP Tickets” provided by Skerbeck Family Carnival, the carnival company hired to present the event.
One small group of young entrepreneurs decided to “Make Lemonade of Lemons,” and gathered enough funds for the group to attend the carnival for young Spencer’s 14th birthday, along with his brothers Carter and Chester Smiatacz, and his friend Reese.
“I want to thank everyone in this amazing, kind and generous community who donated to make it possible for these boys to purchase wristbands for the carnival,” said Spencer’s mother Sarah and grandmother Amy Carr.
Spencer had a “super fun birthday” and “they had a blast,” the two said.
“They are new to the village and small-town living,” Carr said. “I’m excited that they are seeing what a wonderful community they have here. I will encourage them to pay it forward!”
Many community members did indeed pay it forward, with young Spencer Bulko giving his donated community wristbands to his younger cousins, who had never attended a carnival. He simply enjoyed watching the excitement of the little ones.
Other individuals and businesses purchased and randomly handed out wristbands throughout the days prior to the event.
Although some unforeseen logistics resulted in fewer rides than expected, it did not deter those in attendance from enjoying a good time and great family experience.
Many carnival-goers left the grounds eagerly awaiting the return of the carnival again next year.
“The American Legion Post 510 appreciates everyone coming out and enjoying themselves,” American Legion member Ericka Cole said. “We hope to see you next year for a bigger and better event.”
Sponsors of this year’s carnival included American Legion Post 510, Stockbridge Township, The Auto Shop at Lantis Plaza, The Red Apron Eatery, The State Bank, Carney’s Complete Auto Service, G.U. Crew, Stockbridge Bowl, Abbott & Fillmore Agency Inc., SBK Orthodontics, Eaton Community Bank and Wake Up Stockbridge & Surrounding Communities.