The 59th St. Davids Lions Carnival got off to a sweltering start on Wednesday.
Peameal bacon was frying, the sun was shining, rides were whirling, music was playing and temperatures soared well over 30C as the carnival officially kicked off at 4 p.m.
Glenn Miller, president of the Lions Club — not a legendary big band leader — said the event is all about raising money so the club can continue to give back to Niagara-on-the-Lake and communities in need all over the country.
“This is our major fundraiser. As Lions, we provide for the community,” Miller said in an interview just before he had to start a shift on onion ring frying duty.
The carnival is the biggest fundraising event the Lions hold every year. The money raised will go toward a myriad of projects but those won’t be determined until later.
“Next September, when our term starts up again, we’ll decide on a major project (to channel the funds toward),” Miller said.
The carnival has several rides provided by Townsend’s Amusements, a full food stand with hot dogs, onion rings, french fries and the famous Lion Burger, a blow-up corn maze and even a live music venue replete with beer for the adults.
“This is the spirit of St. Davids,” said Lord Mayor Betty Disero, who was volunteering at the food and drink ticket stand.
“The Lions Club is so important, not just to the St. Davids community but every community, for the volunteer and charitable work they do.”
Parents and kids were ready to go at the 4 p.m. carnival kickoff.
Wendy Balsor from Niagara Falls just happened upon the carnival.
“We were driving by and we saw there was a carnival so we just thought we’d bring (my four-year old grandson Ryder Greenaway),” she said.
Ryder was barely two years old when the pandemic began. The carnival marked his first time experiencing a fair, she said.
“It’s fantastic. Such a good time to be back. It’s so great to do this,” Balsor said.
She was thankful she was able to spend time with her grandchild despite the multiple lockdowns over the past two years.
“Luckily we live close by. I was his sitter.”
Jamie Godfrey was also down from Niagara Falls. She was watching her two-year-old daughter Rowan on one of the rides.
“It’s exciting to be back. We came here the week before we got married and then everything shut down. This is our first time back,” said Godfrey, who used to live in St. Davids.
“But this is the only carnival I’ve ever been to here. So, it’s exciting.”
The carnival opening was not without its frustrations for some.
Miranda West is spending some time in NOTL with her parents. West is from Texas and brought her two children, nine-year-old Ben and six-year-old Lily.
“It’s way too expensive and it’s not starting on time,” West said.
The ticket booth for rides didn’t open until about 4:45 p.m. People were lined up in the hot weather waiting to buy tickets.
Tickets for the rides are entirely controlled by Townsend’s Amusements, Miller said.
The cost is $50 for 11 rides and $90 for 22.
But Miller said he was able to get Townsend to reduce the price for the Saturday bracelet, which gives the wearer unlimited rides. That price is now $30. The bracelet is only good for Saturday, between noon and 5 p.m.
The carnival is on Wednesday through Friday, 4 to 10 p.m. and wraps up Saturday, July 23, when it is open from noon until 11 p.m.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report