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Carnival entertainment: Parkersburg City Council wants to look at Fourth of July options



Carnival entertainment: Parkersburg City Council wants to look at Fourth of July options

Trentyn Kelly, an employee with Calliope Productions, the company hired by the American Legion Post 15 for the annual carnival at City Park, sets up his game on July 3. (Photo by Clara Noelle)

PARKERSBURG — Members of Parkersburg City Council want to consider options for the annual Independence week carnival at City Park.

The carnival wrapped up after three days last week, but future years were on council’s agenda during the June 25 meeting.

When a resolution authorizing American Legion Post 15 to use the park for the carnival in 2025, 2026 and 2027 came up, council President Mike Reynolds made a motion referring it to the Public Works Committee. He said he wanted to discuss having “better entertainment” around the Fourth of July.

“The City of Vienna has been doing a really good job with the Freedom Festival, and our carnival sucks,” he said.

Council voted 6-0, with three members absent, to refer the resolution to the committee.

Community members enjoy one of the rides provided by Calliope Productions at the carnival in City Park on July 4. (Photo by Clara Noelle)

On Tuesday, Reynolds said not as many people go to the carnival as in years past. He said he doesn’t want to see it eliminated but believes the city can offer more activities for the holiday week.

“I would love to see the Legion keep the carnival there,” Reynolds said. “It just can’t be the only option.”

Lee Starcher, with American Legion Post 15, was not aware of the vote when contacted last week during the carnival. But he didn’t push back on Reynolds’ remarks, at least in regard to the 2023 edition.

“The councilman was very correct when he said ‘sucked,’” Starcher said.

Due to delays outside the Legion’s control, Starcher said, they were unable to book the vendor they had in 2022 in time for the 2023 carnival. Another vendor “threw together” a group of rides and attractions at the last minute, he said.

Community members ride the carousel on July 4 at the carnival in City Park. (Photo by Clara Noelle)

“He actually pretty much (did) us a favor, just to come in,” Starcher said.

This year, they engaged Calliope Productions, the same vendor that provided carnival activities for the West Virginia Interstate Fair and the Vienna Freedom Festival. He said the Legion wants to see the carnival improve in the future as well.

On July 4, Crystal Hilley was attending the carnival and said she enjoyed it, noting there were more rides than in 2023.

“The kids are having a ball,” she said.

Joshua Davis wasn’t thrilled with the offerings this year but acknowledged an improvement from the previous edition.

“It’s been better in the past,” he said.

The Public Works meeting has not been scheduled yet. Committee Chairwoman Jesse Cottrille said she expects to schedule it later this month.

“I think we’re going to hold this meeting so that we can all kind of talk and discuss ideas,” she said. “I think we all know that it can be better.”

Asked about the situation recently, Mayor Tom Joyce said carnivals, like many other forms of industry, have changed dramatically.

“I just hope council recognizes the 75-80-year history the Legion has with the event and they are given the opportunity to maintain or grow their revenue as it’s important to their organization locally,” he said.

Reynolds said he does not want to exclude the Legion.

“Nobody’s trying to cut them out of that,” he said.

The city for several years has sponsored and organized the fireworks display on Independence Day, but moved it from City Park, where it helped draw larger crowds, to Fort Boreman Park which draws watchers to Point Park and downtown Parkersburg.

Staff reporter Clara Noelle contributed to this story.

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