WACHAPREAGUE: Carnival opens Wednesday
By Clara H. Vaughn • Staff Writer • June 21, 2010
WACHAPREAGUE – The annual Wachapreague Carnival will celebrate its 58th year beginning this Wednesday, June 23 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.The timeless staple of summer on the Shore features rides like the scramble and the black spider, games, live entertainment, an open-air bingo hall and food including clam fritters and homemade ice cream.
Prices have stayed the same — ride-all-night bracelets will be sold for $10, or tickets can be purchased for $1 each. All games, including bingo, cost only a quarter.
For more than half a century, the carnival has remained a favorite pastime of Shore residents.
Carnival Chairwoman Penney Fluhart decided to ask the public to send in their carnival memories last year after hearing the story Larry Hamblin read at his late wife Virginia’s funeral about a night they shared at the carnival 1959.
“I said, ‘I bet every body’s got a carnival story,’” she said.
Fluhart received seven stories from locals as well as those who have left the Shore.
“One was a lady who used to spend the night with her girl friend in Wachapreague… People dropped money in the woodchips (of the bingo hall) and they’d collect it and go to Margaret’s and get candy,” she said.
Another was a man’s story about his year as the “potato boy” — the child tasked with peeling potatoes for the food stand.“He said , ‘You felt like you were part of something huge because you were a kid helping out,’” said Fluhart.
She also has her own carnival memories. Fluhart has helped run the carnival for 24 years, beginning the year she met her husband David, a volunteer fireman and treasurer.
Now, the couple’s children, Rachel, 14, and Walker, 11, also help out at the carnival.“Our kids have grown up there,” she said.
Family friends, town members and volunteers from the Little Pungo Ruritan Club make up the life-force that keeps the carnival going.“They’re very, very helpful,” said Fluhart. “It takes about 52 to 55 people a night to pull the carnival off.”
The Wachapreague carnival is the town fire company’s only fundraiser. It is one of the two remaining carnivals on the Shore.“You might not see somebody all year long, but you’ll see them at the carnival,” Fluhart said. “Things have pretty much stayed the same.”
The carnival runs Wednesday through Saturday, June 23 through July 17. It is open from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays, or 7:30 to 11 p.m. on weekends. Food and bingo begin at 7 p.m. Different live entertainment will be featured each night.