Annual Old Home Week Celebration starts tonight
PUNXSUTAWNEY — "Someday when I grow up, I'm going to run off and join the carnival," has been a threat said by many children over the years when arguing with their parents.
Some kids actually attempted to follow through with that threat, but there are some children who were born into the carnival lifestyle, such as Tabby Fain of Mayo, Fla., who owns and operates the fried dough and funnel cake stand on the J&J Amusement midway today through Saturday during the Punxsutawney Fire Department's Old Home Week Celebration.
Fain said she's actually native to this region, as she grew up in Erie and has relatives who live south of Youngstown, Ohio.
Most of her family works at the carnival. Her aunt runs the cotton candy stand, her mother-in-law has the lemonade stand, and her husband, Larry, manages the carnival for J&J Amusements, Fain said, adding that the food and game stands are individually owned.
"I was two weeks old when I first went out on the road with the carnival, so I was born and raised in the carnival life," she said.
Fain said the reason she loves her life is because it's what she knows from growing up.
Whatever profession someone's parents work in, their children often end up working the same profession, or taking over the family business, Fain said, adding that her parents were in the business, and each of her brothers and sisters continued in the carnival business as well.
Fain said she's traveled to Punxsy for the last six years and really enjoys the area.
Erie has been a good area for J&J to work in, especially since Fain's family is from there, she said.
Fain said she does not travel to Erie during the winter months for obvious reasons.
"I don't do winter. That's why we live in Florida during the winter," she said. Her two sons and dog Buster Brown travel everywhere with the Fains.
Meanwhile, J&J crews spent most of Monday constructing the rides and concession stands in preparation for tonight's opening at 6 p.m.
Mike Porada, of the Punxsutawney Fire Department, explained how the carnival grounds were set up with Larry Fain, who came into town Saturday from Worthington, where J&J's midway was set up last week for its annual Firemen's Carnival.
Porada said the bright red lines that are spray painted all over the carnival grounds are how he and Fain mapped out the carnival site Saturday.
It was easier to lay out the grounds at the National Guard Armory site because the road acted as a border, he said.
Porada said the new site behind the Punxy Plaza is about the same size, but thanks to the stone that was donated by Dave Osikowicz and Dave Weaver, whose trucks brought the stone in to level the grounds the last two years, the new site is much better and tolerates rain better, allowing for the show to go on despite the weather.
Tami McFarland, Old Home Week Committee chairperson, said the midway will open at 6 p.m. tonight, which will be the first of three string nights, which means one price to ride all night.
McFarland said the committee wanted to remind those planning to attend the carnival that there's plenty of parking on the grounds, and that those in attendance should avoid parking in the Punxy Plaza parking area so as not to disrupt parking for the patrons of the plaza's merchants.
Porada said it's sad to see that there are fewer game concessions every year, because people don't have the money to play the different games like they used to due to the hard economic conditions.
All of the usual food concessions will be set up, along with the fire department's bingo tent.
The Firefighters’ Parade is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Saturday in downtown Punxsutawney.
The first of five nightly giveaways begins tonight with a $200 Sheetz gas card. Entrants must be 18 or older to register and present to win.