No carnival for June 24th festival

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

For the second year in a row, it doesn’t appear as if there will be a carnival for the June 24th Masonic Celebration in Florala, event organizers said Tuesday.

This year’s weeklong celebration — set for June 22-27 — will mark 139 consecutive years for the event. It is the oldest Masonic celebration in the U.S. and features a 5K run, fishing tournament, parade, arts and crafts, horseshoe tournament, antique car show, street dance, fire department and water battle — and, up until 2007, a carnival.

“We have tried and tried to find a company who could come,” event chairman Lamar Mitchell said. “We’re telling people if they have any idea how to get one here, let us know. We’ll be glad to talk to them.”

Mitchell said the company who was contracted for last year’s event went out of business one week before their June arrival, which left event organizers scrambling on how to provide something to bring the children and their parents to downtown Florala nightly.

“Most carnival companies are up north during that time, which was the problem last year,” he said. “The little companies have gone out of business because of the economy, which was the case last year. He had sell most of the rides to get out of debt and that left us without a carnival.”

The lack of a carnival has hurt the overall event, Mitchell said, since the committee in years past had received a portion of the carnival proceeds. That money was used to fund other events, he said.

“Last year, we rented those blow-up things for the day,” he said. “That cost us a fortune and we can’t do it this year. We don’t know what we’re going to do. We will have the choo-choo train rides, which are free. There will be pony rides for a small fee, but other than that, I don’t know.”

Mitchell said he does know there will be an increased number of children’s events and games held throughout the week, but it’s unknown how the group will make the majority of the funds required to host the event each year.

“We’ve still got all the other traditional stuff,” he said. “Just no carnival.”

Anyone having any suggestions is asked to contact Mitchell at 334-504-1050 or 334-858-6057.