Friday, August 19, 2011

The One and Only Carnation Festival

When I drive home to Alliance, I see many rough looking houses. The people are struggling. Steel factories have shut down and there aren't the jobs to support the working class. It looks like a John Couger Mellencamp video. Many of the working class are now poor. The jobs are not there. So many hurting and struggling. Except for one week a year.

The Carnation Festival. Somehow, the small town comes together and puts on the most amazing hometown festival I have ever seen. There aren't rides for the kids. But, there is a boy scout booth where the kids play simple games to win old fashioned prizes like suckers and the mom-dreaded goldfish. In the background, you will see the Carnation Queen walking around greeting small girls who are giddy to meet a real queen and her court. Bands from the area play oldies for the brave to dance to and provide a fun atmosphere. And the most important part of the festival...the food.

The food is amazing. I am sure some of it is nostalgic for me. I eat the same menu each year. But the best part of it for me is that the prices are EXTREMELY LOW and all of the proceeds go to local service organizations in the city. Churches, Ulster Project, the high school class of 2012, Key Club, Kiwanis, Republican/Democrat clubs, etc. It blows my mind every year I am there. They have it down to a science. No one can sell anything that another vendor sells. All are non-profit. All of it delicious.

I can go to this festival and say yes to every request of my kids. That's how cheap it is. And I do. They play games, eat cotton candy, beg to win goldfish and ask to do it all over again.

Alliance struggles but they put together an amazing week of activities for the Carnation Festival. We'll be taking the family down there on Saturday evening. When you stand over the festival on your way down the hill, you feel a real sense of community. This isn't a suburb. It is a real small town struggling to make it in this new economy. If they can put together such a fantastic festival year after year, there is hope for Alliance. I know there is.


Lara said...

Great post on Alliance! Got a little teary eyed while reading it. I do love Carnation days! It is a great sense of community and I love how all of the money goes to nonprofit groups.

Emily said...

Wish we didn't already have plans or we would make a trek down to Alliance. Will keep in mind for next year!

Anonymous said...

Nicely put Carnation Days!

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