ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) – The Orange Volunteer Firemens’ Carnival begins today. It is one of the oldest carnivals in the country, and one of the biggest of its kind in the area. This morning, crews were putting the finishing touches on the rides.

There is a lot to put together. Over more than 90 years, the Carnival has grown and grown.

“It started as a small event on the town green many years ago, and it’s grown into one of the largest carnivals in the state,” said Chief Vaughn Dumas of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department.

Don Foyer has been the carnival chairman for the past 13 years.

“Takes a lot to pull it off with everywhere from parking the cars to cooking the food to doing the raffle all the way through,” Foyer said.

They want it to keep growing because the carnival covers a third of the department’s yearly budget.

“We have to generate our own revenue to operate, and this is one of the events that we have annually,” said Dumas. “So, not only do they respond to fires, but they are responsible for doing fundraising for the department too so that we can continue to succeed.”

They had to take 2020 off because of the pandemic. It was only the third time in department history the carnival didn’t happen. Foyer says the others were due to World War II and a polio outbreak. This year, the big health concern is the heat.

“We’re making sure all of our staff are hydrated. We have plenty of water here for people,” Dumas explained. “We’re actually going to set up some misting fans for people to walk through to cool down.”

The Carnival runs Thursday and Friday night, then all day Saturday with fireworks, and wraps up Sunday. Admission is free. The rides and food cost money. Generations of good times are priceless.

“You know, one of the good things is to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they get off those rides and know they had such a good time,” said Foyer.

They say more people attended the carnival than ever before last year, and this year, they have already had more advance sales of the bracelets you use for the rides than they did last year. So, if you come, be sure to come early.