By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The Parsons Volunteer Fire Department has been putting on a street fair and carnival since the early 1940s. This event serves as the main fundraiser for the volunteer department, assisting with the payment of general bills, utilities, gear for the firefighters, fuel, and other needs amongst the department. According to research by Company 10 Fire Chief Kevin White, since beginning this annual tradition, “There have been no cancellations to our knowledge, this is our very first.”
From what is known about the development of the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department, it began in the 1920s as a result of a fire that required the assistance of Thomas and Elkins. After the tragedy, it was decided to form a local department, though it did not become incorporated until 1932. “It existed before then, but not as an incorporated entity,” White explained.
It is unknown how many firefighters were involved in the beginning, though now Company 10 is staffed with 40 firefighters and eight women’s auxiliary members. It is believed that Parsons’ Carnival was the first booking for Gambill Amusement, which essentially began as pony rides. This has developed into a top of the line event that not only hosts the carnival rides for people of all ages, but other activities such as Fire Department Bingo, vendor stations, and raffle booths for other entity fundraisers. No plans had been made specifically for the funds derived from the carnival due to the fluctuation experienced due to weather and economical status in years past.
“Basically we were out of time,” stated White as this decision had to be made. “Safety is the number one priority and we couldn’t let this event go off in good conscious.” White and other Fire Department representatives have been in constant contact with the Tucker County Health Department, City of Parsons officials, and Gambill Amusement to make this difficult decision. “It’s out of our hands,” he added saying that it is unknown whether Governor Jim Justice will lift the stay at home and social distancing orders in time for the carnival, therefore this was the unfortunate option felt best.
White stated that other options for fundraisers are being contemplated, but are pending due to the current pandemic. Raffles, chicken burns, cake walks, bingo, and other events have made their way onto the possible lists moving forward, however all of these options are pending the status of COVID-19. White encourages everyone to continue to support the small businesses and everyone effected now and upon re-opening when deemed safe. Information will be made available regarding future events.