There’s only one time a year that you can get Urbana fries, and that’s during the Urbana Volunteer Firemen’s Community Carnival. The 44th annual carnival will be held July 16 through 21, 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. each night. Volunteer-driven, the carnival is Urbana Fire Company 23’s main fundraiser and a labor of love.
To produce the fresh-cut Urbana fries, volunteers slice potatoes all night and then fry them in often 90-degree weather. The results are worth it.
In addition to Urbana fries, carnival-goers can enjoy fried chicken, shrimp, crab cake and seafood platters; country ham, “pit” beef, sausage and pork, steak and cheese and crab cake sandwiches; hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs and fried chicken from the Carnival Kitchen. If you would rather have a sit-down meal, a hot, buffet-style dinner is served in the air-conditioned Fire Hall each night from 5 to 8 p.m.
And of course, there’s pizza, sno-cones, soft ice cream and funnel cake. Be sure to come hungry.
Carnival Chair Dennis McGrew said that food sales make up the fire department’s main income from the carnival. The Urbana Volunteer Fire & Rescue is a private corporation, he noted, powered by career staff and volunteer members.
This year’s entertainment showcases local bands and celebrates the music of different eras. You’ll revisit the Woodstock years with Janglebachs, the Elvis years with Taylor Brown & the Memphis Cats and Taylor Brown & the Spin Outs, the ‘70s and ‘80s with Eclipse, and the ‘80s plus with Guys in Thin Ties. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Nashville recording artist CJ Solar takes the stage Thursday night at 8 p.m. McGrew said that the Urbana Carnival is excited to bring Solar to its stage. Solar was recently named one of the “New Artists You Need to Know” by Rolling Stone Country. Fireworks follow at 9:45 p.m.
Rosedale Attractions will again bring their popular rides. Remember that you can ride until closing for one price on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.. If you purchase them in advance (through July 15, 4 p.m.), these tickets are $15. Advance tickets are available at Burdette Brothers in Hyattstown, Dairy Queen in the FSK Mall, In10se BBQ at the Urbana Farmers’ Market on Sundays, or The Village Orthodontist during business hours Monday through Wednesday. Bring cash or check. Midway Games returning include Dime Pitch, Goblet Toss, Nevadas and Duck Pond.
McGrew said that the carnival committee starts planning for the carnival during the winter, including booking entertainment. He has been chair for about 10 years, he said, and this year he is striving for a really good year. “The carnival is fun, a good time,” he said. “It’s very community based and family friendly with no alcohol.”
The Urbana Carnival started the year that the Urbana Fire & Rescue was chartered, 1974. Members of the Hyattstown station joined the Urbana Fire Department that year, and Hyattstown had a successful summer carnival tradition. These members suggested starting a carnival in Urbana, McGrew said.
This year’s Urbana Carnival is still welcoming volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, stop by the Urbana Fire Department on Saturday or call 301.606.3008.
The volunteer base at Urbana Fire & Rescue is a very big part of the company, McGrew noted. Volunteers are needed to support many programs there. Active volunteers are also eligible for a state tax break of $4500 after three years of service, he added. After the three years, each successive year of active volunteering offers a $4500 state tax break.