Rotary Carnival makes postpandemic return

By Darren Lum
A 77 year Haliburton tradition continues after a pandemic hiatus.
This year’s Rotary Carnival, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 3, will not have fireworks and the dynamic midway, but will still retain its heart by bringing people together.
Organizer and long-time Rotarian Ted Brandon said this year’s theme is “a homecoming.”
“We have always felt the Carnival is a fun time. When people grow up here they all come back and that’s a particular day they target to be back here with friends and family, acquaintances in the park that night, so we’re going to try to build on that and call it a homecoming,” he said.

Brandon said there’s been efforts to bring back the midway, but in light of recent circumstances there hasn’t been any luck.
“I’ve reached out to all of the operators in Ontario and many of them are running fewer [events]. Some of them have several shows that are in different places at the same time, many of them reducing the number of shows, and then some of them are just shut down,” he said.
Brandon adds the Haliburton location and the date further complicated matters, including Dysart et al’s opposition to having a midway set on the grass in Head Lake Park.
“So we’re going to have to re-imagine the carnival and come up with a new idea,” he said.
This year’s event will be organized to include children’s (12 and under recommended) activities during the afternoon and live music at the band shell and festivities in the evening for adults.
Brandon said there is consideration for an “Amazing Race” style activity for children where they will go to different stations in the park to complete challenges for prizes, and also petting zoos, animal shows and face painting.

Beef on the bun will be available like other years, and the Rotary fundraiser car draw tickets will be available for purchase up until the winner is drawn at 8 p.m., and event goers can try their luck with the “crown and anchor” gambling game. Tickets for the car draw are available at
The reason why the fireworks will not be part of festivities is because of the related environmental concerns and the cost that has been as high as $10,000 in previous years. Brandon said it made sense to take the money saved from not holding the fireworks to apply it to a community initiative that could benefit more people.

Brandon said sponsors are welcomed to help with the Carnival, which enables the event to be free of charge.
“We feel it is important that there is no admission fee for the carnival so all families can participate,” he wrote in an email message.