Steamboat Springs This wasn't the ordinary Steamboat Springs carnival.
In the Meadows parking lot during the weekend, rides and the standard boardwalk-type games - not to mention the funnel cakes and cotton candy - created a county fair atmosphere for many local families.
But this carnival was a bit different, with a percentage of the proceeds going to Strawberry Park Elementary School.
The first - and potentially annual - event drew large crowds Saturday night, Brown's Amusements owner Danny Brown said, but the highest attendance nights for the carnival may be still to come.
"It's been OK for a first year," he said. "But it's about the third year they take off."
The amusement company, based in Mesa, Ariz., made its last appearance in Steamboat 10 or 11 years ago, Brown said. For this engagement, Strawberry Park Parent Teacher Information Committee member Beth DeBafis invited the group back to town to break the monotony of traditional school fundraisers. The carnival began Thursday and ran daily through Sunday.
"I wanted to do a fundraiser that was fun and not just sell stuff any more," she said. "It turns out that if you advertise it and sell advance tickets and really promote it, they will come. It doesn't get too much easier than that with no expenses out."
DeBafis said she hoped to net between $8,000 and $10,000 for the school.
Brown said that was not an unreasonable goal, but he was unwilling to speculate on how much the carnival had made by Sunday afternoon. The final revenue figures should be available early this week, DeBafis said.
Eating shaved ice in the 70-degree, cloudy weather Sunday afternoon, 5 1/2-year-old Liv Mason said she had been to water parks and other amusement parks before but nothing like this in Steamboat.
"It's really fun," she said.
Her mother, Madeleine Mason, said the event seemed like a good idea on several levels.
"I think it's a great fundraiser. It's providing entertainment and funds for the schools. It seems like a win-win to me," she said.
Brown said he would be willing to come back to Steamboat in future years, though no contract has been signed. DeBafis agreed that the project seemed worthwhile, and she would like to invite the amusement company back.
"I think it's hard in Steamboat because we have so many carnivals, per se, that now that people know it's a real carnival with rides and amusement, it will drive more sales," she said.
The parents group plans to spend the money on supplies and technology that can't be provided for by the school's regular budget. Strawberry Park PTIC President Bethany Aurin previously said the group generally provides about $20,000 in fundraising dollars to the school each year. Aurin said the carnival took the place of the group's wrapping paper sale, which usually is held in the fall.
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