If you grew up in the Avonworth Community, then you probably already have an understanding of the importance of a certain event that happens in mid-July each year. And this year, this event has become a big enough deal that not only were old AHS alums making plans to attend, but the CityPaper was even advertising it!
It had been a long time since I’d been back to the Fireman’s Carnival, but after we embarked on our firehall bingo Achievement, I knew we had to go back. Ohio Township Firehall bingo has always been the best there is.
In previous years, the carnival has been held at the firehall itself (you know, the firehall where I, in attendance at a 1989 wedding and disgruntled with the lack of dancing, went to the middle of the dance floor all by myself, in a faux-suede skirt, and performed my best rendition of the song “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, to the cheers of all of the other wedding-goers who probably should have known better than to encourage my behavior? yeah, that one). But this year, a lovely new firehall had just been built, and the grounds were not yet complete enough to house the rowdiness of the carnival, so it was moved to the picturesque Ohio Township Community Park.
After grabbing some snacks of delicious hot dogs and fries, we headed off to the games. This is where the trouble started. Our first game was the carnival favorite Dime Toss. The aim is to toss dimes at various glasses, and if you get your dime to go in a glass, you win it. They find the coolest, most random glasses at this thing, and it was always a thrill to try to see which ones you could get.
Except that we had to cut our fun short, because after just 50 cents of dime tosses, Michael had won two glasses. One of which was that gigantic fishbowl… which you had to win by getting a dime in the narrow-mouthed shot glass that was sitting on top of the fishbowl. I guess he didn’t really think he’d get it in.
This is the point when we realized that going to the Fireman’s Carnival as an adult is a lot different, as you have to carry all your obscure glasses yourself, and not just hand them to your mum and run off.
Next, with our Star Trek glass and fishbowl in tow, we headed off to the hayride! This was always another highlight of the Fireman’s Carnival: sure, we rode the hayride at Reilly’s Farm every year to get to the pumpkin patch, but a hayride through the woods in the dark? That’s something special.
After the excitement of the hayride, and after seeing about eight billion people walking around with nachos, I decided I needed another snack. The food at the OT Fireman’s Carnival is really the best. As they did at firehall bingo, they have a vast selection of homemade desserts, so we got a serving of nachos and followed it up with some soft chocolate chip cookies. Yum! I remember always looking forward to which new dessert my mum and I would try at bingo intermission (I am not sure why there was intermission at bingo, by the way).
We sat on some stones just outside the little gazebo where the bingo game was running, because Fireman’s Carnival bingo is that exciting: there was not a space to be had! Finally, after we finished up our snacks, two spots opened up, and we jumped on the seats and put our dollars in for the next game.
It wasn’t quite to the level of the *real* firehall bingo (which, on my last visit, was full of fascinating old chainsmoking ladies who would set up their ‘good luck’ charms of trolls, laughing Buddhas, and crucifixes at the edge of their 10+ bingo cards), but it was still a good time. We got so close to getting bingos, but each time, someone else got there just a space ahead!
And you have to be paying super-close attention, because they do all sorts of differnet bingos each time: regular bingos, four corners, postage stamps, big diamond, and little diamond! So many ways to win!
I spent most of each game two spaces away from a win. Without fail, I was getting two hits in a row on the first few calls, and then nothing. Boo! Payouts were around $12 per game, so a win would have paid for all our treats and games for the night!
Finally, we were off to play some Chuck-a-Luck. Chuck-a-Luck is the big deal at the OT Fireman’s Carnival. You can play a quarter up to $3.00 per spin, and people get really into it. I didn’t walk away a winner this time, but that’s why there’s always next year!