Lincoln Civic Center

Carnival Comes To Town PDF Print E-mail

South African carnival worker Ettiene Sward tightens up the braces on a 100-foot tall Ferris wheel Tuesday at the Lincoln Civic Center, where North American Midway Entertainment will produce the inaugural Lincoln County Carnival this week

Row after row of brightly colored booths and lights are a dead giveaway. Trailer loads of bumper cars and kiddy rides make it obvious.

The presence of a 100-foot tall Ferris wheel also makes it hard to hide the fact a carnival has come to town. But still, Lincoln Civic Center Manager Quinn Jordan is worried no one is taking the inaugural Lincoln County Carnival seriously.

"I don't think people realize what this is about to be, the quality and the magnitude of this event," he said. "This is the same type of quality as the Mississippi State Fair."

Beginning Thursday afternoon at the civic center, North American Midway Entertainment will produce the Lincoln County Carnival, which features 18 rides for children, families and adults, as well as 20 carnival games and events and half a dozen or so food vendors. The carnival runs from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, from 4:30 p.m. to midnight Friday, from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Admission to the carnival is free, with game, food and ride costs varying. Different rides require a different number of admission tickets, which can be purchased onsite for $1.25 per ticket. All-access armbands can be purchased for $20 on Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Parking is $2, and proceeds will go to the Lincoln County Fire Association.

NAME, one of the world's largest traveling carnival companies, serves more than 20 million people annually in 20 states and four Canadian provinces. It is the same company that hosts the Mississippi State Fair, the Biloxi Crawfish Festival and Southaven's Mid-South Fair.

"I truly believe our kids and teens and adults will be able to come out and experience a good time right outside their back door," Jordan said.

Patrick Hadley, a concessions manager with NAME, said carnival-goers could expect "100 percent professionalism" at the event throughout the next four days.

"It's a great place to bring your family and very safe place to have fun," he said. "You'll have memories you'll never forget."

The civic center commission spent only $2,000 to bring the carnival to Lincoln County, and has already recouped that expense through profit-sharing deals with NAME, the rental of the facility and the rental of the center's RV spaces by NAME employees.

"Based on the quality and the size of the rides, they're worth every penny," Jordan said. "The commission plans to use all proceeds above and beyond cost to help support and subsidize the Lincoln Civic Center's operations budget so tax dollars can be freed up to go to other county business. In the long run, instead of us being subsidized, we want to see a percentage of our operating budget offset by these events."

Jordan said hopes are the carnival will grow into a festival in the coming years and eventually transform into a full-fledged, old-fashioned county fair.

"This is our first year, so numbers will vary," he said. "After this year, we'll have our hands around the amount of people we can expect, and we hope this event will evolve."