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Saxonburg Carnival rides, food, games will fill grounds

Animals of all sorts, and their owners, came out in droves for the 2019 Pet Parade in Saxonburg as part of the Saxonburg Fireman’s Carnival. Butler Eagle file photo

While the coronavirus pandemic prevented coordinators of the Saxonburg Fireman’s Carnival from contracting with larger amusement ride companies in the last few years because those companies were closed, organizers are excited to announce that the carnival will return to its traditional format when it opens next week.

Paul Donaldson, carnival committee chairman at Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Company, said C&L Shows has been hired to provide 16 to 18 carnival rides, food booths and games that will fill the carnival grounds from 6 p.m. to close, from Tuesday to July 2.

Donaldson said he has also contracted with 10 to 12 private food vendors for the carnival.

“You’ll see the return of all the good carny food,” he said.

Instead of the traditional raffle of a car or all-terrain vehicle, the carnival is offering a 50/50 raffle this year.

Donaldson said the fire company didn’t want to risk buying a vehicle to raffle in case the carnival could not be held, in which case they’d be stuck with the vehicle.

“The committee decided money is the perfect fit for everybody,” Donaldson said.

Raffle tickets can be purchased online at or at the car stand at the carnival grounds during the event.

“We’re going into the carnival with a nice prize already,” Donaldson said.

The firemen’s parade could not be organized this year due to funding, the time necessary to organize all the fire departments, and the Herculean effort needed to line everything up.

The carnival will include the popular pet parade, but the route has been modified.

Donaldson said registration will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Saxonburg Memorial Presbyterian Church, where pastors from that church and St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church will hold a blessing of the pets at 6:30 p.m.

The parade will then proceed west on Main Street to Pittsburgh Street, where the barking and quacking hoard will turn left and proceed to the carnival grounds.

“That way, people will be able to go into the carnival grounds and their pets are welcome, and they can immediately start enjoying the fun of the carnival,” Donaldson said.

Tuesday will be the only day that pets will be allowed into the carnival, he said.

Those not interested in whirling or spinning rides can come to the carnival just for the food, games or ambiance, as there is no entrance fee this year.

“If people want to come and and walk around and get a hot sausage or apple dumpling, or if grandparents want to bring their grandkids, there’s no fee to get in,” Donaldson said.

He said several area businesses stepped up to cover the revenue the fire department received through the entrance fee, which was $2 per person in the past.

Sprankle’s Neighborhood Market in Saxonburg is the carnival’s official event sponsor, and several other businesses have signed on as sponsors.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to come in and not have to pay,” Donaldson said. “I’m very appreciative of those companies. We are truly blessed they were able to step up and help us.”

The carnival sponsors are listed on the fire company’s website.

Donaldson pointed out that everyone who attends the carnival is supporting the fire company by buying 50/50 tickets or riding rides, as a portion of the proceeds from the latter goes to the fire company.

“You’re definitely supporting the fire company,” Donaldson said of those who plan to attend.

Townes Gaston, 6, goes for a spin around the swings at the Saxonburg Carnival in 2019. Butler Eagle file photo
Animals of all sorts and their owners came out in droves for the 2019 Pet Parade in Saxonburg as part of the Saxonburg Fireman's Carnival. Butler Eagle file photo
Animals of all sorts, and their owners, came out in droves for the 2019 Pet Parade in Saxonburg as part of the Saxonburg Fireman’s Carnival. Butler Eagle file photo