Lions Carnival returns for 76th edition

One of the most popular traditions in Orange County returns this week to offer area residents eight days of enjoyment.

The Lions Club Carnival returns for its 76th year on Wednesday, Sept. 30 and continues through Saturday, Oct. 3. The carnival resumes on Wednesday, Oct. 7 and concludes on Saturday, Oct. 10.

The Orange Lions Club Carnival is open from 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., each Wednesday and Thursday, and 6:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday of each week, except “Kiddie Day” when the carnival begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Admission is now $3 for adults, $2 for youth ages 13 to 17, and remains free for children ages 12 and younger.

According to Rusty Honeycutt, this year’s carnival chairperson, area residents can expect most everything they have come to know and love about the carnival and even experience its newest addition, the High Striker.

The High Striker is a sort of game where a person can test their strength. Also known as the Strongman game, a person takes a sledgehammer-type of mallet and strikes a pad which sends a metal object up the rail and hopefully, depending on the person’s strength, rings the bell for a prize. There is also a child’s version available.

“The Lions Club wanted to add something new to our midway area and keep it interested for everyone,” Honeycutt said. “There used to be one of these out here when I was a kid and it was very popular. We think this will be too.”

The Lions Carnival added a new ride a couple of years ago, the Thunderbolt, to replace the Flying Bobs which had been damaged by Hurricane Ike’s storm surge. The carnival also opted to discontinue the operation of the highly popular Scrambler ride last year, but plans are in the works to fill that void.

“It’s going to be a few years down the road, but we want to add another ride to the carnival and take the place of the Scrambler,” Honeycutt added.

According to information provided by the Orange Lions Club, the carnival’s origins can be traced back to 1938 when the first carnival was held. The first-ever carnival consisted of only booths, most of which proved helped generate a profit of $115 that first year.

Carnival rides were added within two years when a touring carnival, which had been traveling through Orange, did not have enough funds to leave for its next destination. A Lions Club member purchased one of the rides, a group of small cars connected to a portable track, and the rest is history.

“The weather has been pretty good recently and we are hoping it continues,” Honeycutt said. “Even if it rains a little, everything should be OK. The grounds are in good shape, and everything is come along fine for our opening. It should be another great year.”

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