• 66°

Carnival Comes To Town

Row after row of brightly colored booths and lights are a deadgiveaway. Trailer loads of bumper cars and kiddy rides make itobvious.

The presence of a 100-foot tall Ferris wheel also makes it hardto hide the fact a carnival has come to town. But still, LincolnCivic Center Manager Quinn Jordan is worried no one is taking theinaugural Lincoln County Carnival seriously.

“I don’t think people realize what this is about to be, thequality and the magnitude of this event,” he said. “This is thesame type of quality as the Mississippi State Fair.”

Beginning Thursday afternoon at the civic center, North AmericanMidway Entertainment will produce the Lincoln County Carnival,which features 18 rides for children, families and adults, as wellas 20 carnival games and events and half a dozen or so foodvendors. The carnival runs from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, from4:30 p.m. to midnight Friday, from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday andfrom 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Admission to the carnival is free, with game, food and ridecosts varying. Different rides require a different number ofadmission tickets, which can be purchased onsite for $1.25 perticket. All-access armbands can be purchased for $20 on Thursdayand from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Parking is $2, and proceeds willgo to the Lincoln County Fire Association.

NAME, one of the world’s largest traveling carnival companies,serves more than 20 million people annually in 20 states and fourCanadian provinces. It is the same company that hosts theMississippi State Fair, the Biloxi Crawfish Festival andSouthaven’s Mid-South Fair.

“I truly believe our kids and teens and adults will be able tocome out and experience a good time right outside their back door,”Jordan said.

Patrick Hadley, a concessions manager with NAME, saidcarnival-goers could expect “100 percent professionalism” at theevent throughout the next four days.

“It’s a great place to bring your family and very safe place tohave fun,” he said. “You’ll have memories you’ll never forget.”

The civic center commission spent only $2,000 to bring thecarnival to Lincoln County, and has already recouped that expensethrough profit-sharing deals with NAME, the rental of the facilityand the rental of the center’s RV spaces by NAME employees.

“Based on the quality and the size of the rides, they’re worthevery penny,” Jordan said. “The commission plans to use allproceeds above and beyond cost to help support and subsidize theLincoln Civic Center’s operations budget so tax dollars can befreed up to go to other county business. In the long run, insteadof us being subsidized, we want to see a percentage of ouroperating budget offset by these events.”

Jordan said hopes are the carnival will grow into a festival inthe coming years and eventually transform into a full-fledged,old-fashioned county fair.

“This is our first year, so numbers will vary,” he said. “Afterthis year, we’ll have our hands around the amount of people we canexpect, and we hope this event will evolve.”