By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“We never said we wouldn’t allow the carnival to take place on the field,” said Jefferson County Public Works Director Monte Reinders.
“We were looking into other opportunities, but there were no other acceptable alternatives.”
The 79th annual Rhododendron Festival takes place May 12-17, with the carnival scheduled to take place Thursday through Saturday, May 15-17.
The carnival was situated on city streets until 2006 when the new City Hall construction began, and that building along with subsequent renovations to Pope Marine Park meant there was no other downtown location capable of handling the large carnival rides.
“If we couldn’t use the field, we’d be restricted to using the kiddie rides, and that would cost us a lot of money,” said festival Treasurer Melanie Bozak.
“If we couldn’t have the big rides, we may as well just cancel the carnival.”
Bozak said the festival’s cut from the carnival, which ranges from $5,000 to $8,000, covers the cost of the field’s rental along with traveling expenses to other parades throughout the year.
The carnival company has put down a $2,000 damage deposit for the field, according to Reinders.
“The field is subject to damage if it gets wet, and we need to be protected,” Reinders said.
The county will meet with festival representatives in early May to assess weather conditions, but both parties expect the carnival will proceed as planned unless the weather is extremely wet.
“If it’s a normal spring, we should have no problem,” said contractor Roger Hall, who installed the field’s sprinkler system in 2010.
“But if it’s really wet, like in 2011, we might want to call it off.”
Even in wet weather the carnival won’t cause any permanent damage, Bozak said.
“The carnival has always offered to pay for any damage, and the county has never asked for any reimbursement,” Bozak said.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.