Lincoln Civic Center

Officials: Carnival turnout tremendous PDF Print E-mail

People of all ages check out the rides, games and fun food at the inaugural Lincoln County Carnival Friday night. North American Midway Entertainment’s traveling show has been a smash hit in Lincoln County and looks to return next year.

The sky was just turning dark Friday night while Brookhaven's Alicia Williams sat on a bench at the inaugural Lincoln County Carnival, peering into a stroller and doting on her youngest grandchild while the older two ran amuck amidst the bright lights and fast rides.

Jackson Leggett, 5, and Sidda Stephenson, 4, had managed to ride, play and eat through about $130 in less than two hours, but grandma didn't mind.

"My grandchildren are loving it," Williams said. "I haven't been to a carnival in about 20 years. It's better than I remember."

With clear, breezy weather, the workweek over and area baseball games on temporary hiatus, hordes of children, parents and grandparents poured into the carnival Friday night to make up for what was a slow start on opening night Thursday. The crowd showed no signs of thinning out as late as 10 p.m., as the amount of vehicles had overflowed the parking available at the Lincoln Civic Center and stretched down the sides of Beltline Drive.

North American Midway Entertainment Concessions Manager Patrick Hadley described the carnival's turnout as "tremendous." As far as attendance is concerned, his company wasn't quite sure what to expect from Southwest Mississippi. NAME had never been to Lincoln County, and the carnival site is far removed from more visible areas in Brookhaven.

"We were concerned with the location because you're not going to accidentally see it unless you come out here. But I'm very pleased with the turnout," Hadley said. "Obviously advertisement and word of mouth has worked well, and it tells me there's lots of potential here."

Those enjoying the carnival Friday night saw the same potential, and almost everyone expressed their desire to see the carnival return in 2011.

"I think this is fine and I hope they continue it," said Loyd Star's Lori Smith. "It's got plenty of room, it's comfy and you don't have to walk too far."

Lincoln Civic Center Manager Quinn Jordan said NAME and the county are already coming to an agreement for shows in the future. Inviting the carnival to town this year is the first step in a plan to eventually create an annual, old-timey county fair.

"All indications are that NAME is excited about a long-term relationship here in Lincoln County and Southwest Mississippi. Mark your calendars in 2011 for another fun-filled event just like this, or even better," Jordan said.

Jordan said next year's carnival, festival or fair would again be scheduled for early May, but the daily times of operation may be pushed back later.

"I think it's a little early at 4:30 p.m. for people trying to get off work and make it out here, and it's a little warm, too," he said.

Other than the afternoon heat and the high cost of carnival food, few complaints were lodged about the event from carnival-goers Friday night. Most agreed - "don't change a thing."

"It's family-oriented, a good atmosphere," said Wesson's Joy Traxler. "I wasn't sure what it was going to be like, but it's been really nice. The kids are having fun."

Loyd Star's Julie Case brought her 12-year-old neice, Madison Case, and her friend Megan Vanover, 12, to the carnival after checking it out from the nearby Hansel King Sportsplex. It was worth the trip.

"We thought we'd check it, and we're having fun. We like the variety of races. We've rode it all," Case said.