How much do you know about the history and trivia surrounding the Orange Volunteer Firemen's Carnival? We spoke to committee chairman Donald Foyer and Fire Chief Charles Gagel to find out some of the most interesting facts surrounding the event. Some you may know already, some you may not. Read away ...
- The carnival has only been cancelled twice since its debut in 1925 — once during a polio outbreak, and once during World War II.
- At one time, the Guinness Book of Records listed the carnival as the largest volunteer firemen's carnival on the east coast.
- The fairgrounds are the third venue for the carnival in its history. It debuted here in 1977, Foyer says, and some of the committee's first moves were to add the two barns and the pavilion.
- For two years in the 1970s — around the time of the 1972 sesquicentennial — the carnival was held behind , but relocated after it outgrew the space.
- For years, farmer Jimmy Ewen served as the carnival's hot dog chef. "That man had a way of taking his hands and rolling his hands over the flat-tops," says Gagel, "and the joke was the hot dogs never tasted so good after Jimmy got rid of his cows."
- The Volunteer Fire Department itself purchases all the top prizes for the raffle — including several week-long vacation trips and cruises. Until 2002, the department offered a car as the top prize.
- Orange has one of the country's few remaining self-funded volunteer fire departments — aside from a small stipend, the department receives no town money, and the carnival is a major source of revenue for operations.
- This is the second year New Hampshire-based Schnitzels and Giggles will provide food. The company is a "touring food truck," and makes appearances at fairs along the east coast from New Hampshire to Florida.
Are you a town history buff or an expert on the carnival? Got any more interesting pieces of trivia? Let us know in the comments!