This is the time of year that I am especially homesick for PA: it’s the Volunteer Firemen’s Carnival season. There are some people who don’t care for carnivals, but I would argue those carnivals may be ones just shy of fairs with sketchy rides and even sketchier people. The carnivals I grew up with were almost all local food, stands, and games. You went to a carnival to see people from the neighborhood, see kids from school (ah, the days before social media), and walk around as the hot day cooled down to evening.
The food was all homemade: home-cut fries, ice cream with texture of ice milk and a flavor punch you couldn’t get from the grocery store, cakes of every variety donated by women in the community, ham and bean soup which was strangely satisfying on a summer evening. The carnival took all of 10 minutes to stroll around at a leisurely pace and there was a new person to chat with on every circuit of the field.
The first two weeks of July contain my two favorite carnivals: the Millville carnival with its huge July 4 parade, awesome closing night fireworks show, homemade caramel corn, and one of the best carousels I’ve ever been to (and yes, I have been known to ride it when I’m in town.) The week after Millville is the Lightstreet Carnival. This is the carnival I grew up with: close enough to walk to every night if I wanted (you know, when it was still relatively safe for kids to go somewhere unattended because the whole town looked out for its own), working the cake and ice cream stand when I was old enough, and hanging with my girls, flirting with the guys who wouldn’t give us the time of day in school.
Yeah, I like carnivals.