5-day carnival embraces fundraising and fellowship in Leechburg

Sep. 16—Carnival volunteers from the Leechburg Volunteer Fire Company are busy prepping for their biggest annual fundraiser.

The annual five-day carnival starts Tuesday on the fire company's grounds at 268 Canal St.

The event has entertained carnival goers for more than 85 years.

The carnival serves as an essential fundraiser for the department. Last year's carnival raised about $10,000.

Organizers are hopeful this year's event will raise even more to help chip away at the $75,000 balance remaining on a new 2022 Pierce Commercial Cab fire engine, delivered in January.

The $380,000 fire engine replaced a 1999 engine truck.

"The new truck is working just fantastic, and we've had it out on about 15 calls," Chief Emeritus Tom Foster said.

Organizers made the decision to move the festival from mid-summer to September in an effort to boost attendance and have less competition with other summer festivals and events.

"We did have one day of bad weather and that always affects attendance," Foster said. "We're hoping everyone comes out and enjoys a good time."

This year, attendees can try a new ride, "The Tornado," and the firefighters' food booth will sell a new food item: sloppy fries with a choice of cheese or gravy as a topping.

Admission is free and an ATM will be provided on-site.

Mayor Tony Roppolo recalled many of his own Leechburg carnival memories.

"It's people seeing old friends and the food — fabulous fire department hot dogs, potato fries drenched in vinegar and a big, delicious candied apple covered with nuts," Roppolo said. "And my personal favorite rides were the Ferris wheel, octopus, tilt-a-whirl and the shooting gallery."

Fire company volunteer Melissa Aller is a carnival fixture, volunteering each night.

"It's an opportunity for all of us to come together and enjoy fun and excitement close to home," Aller said. "Children create memories that last a lifetime, and parents find the sights, sounds and smells of the carnival very nostalgic.

"We, as a fire company, are proud to continue this tradition for our community."

All-evening amusement ride wristbands are $20.

Foster recalled how the carnival was always "a big time for Leechburg and everyone came out."

"I rode all the rides, and I loved the Ratman game. There was a round board and a live rat, and if you had your money on the color the rat ran to, you won a stuffed animal," Foster said. "People would come just to watch that game."

Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joyce by email at jhanz@triblive.com or via Twitter .