Civic group planning summer carnival

Carnival rides at the 2014 Riverhead Country Fair at the Riverside traffic circle. Tim Gannon photo.

The last time the Flanders-Riverside area had a carnival was during the 2014 Riverhead Country Fair, when rides were set up on Southampton Town parkland adjacent to the Riverside traffic circle.

Southampton officials later said those rides shouldn’t been allowed because the land had been purchased with Community Preservation Fund money and carnivals were not a permitted use there.

But now, the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association is looking to make a carnival an annual event in those communities, and has informally scheduled the first one for Aug. 11-14 at Phillips Avenue Elementary School.

The group’s first choice for a location was the grounds of the Big Duck in Flanders, according to FRNCA president Ron Fisher.

“The carnival was the idea of Fran Cobb, president of Friends of the Big Duck,” he said

But it turned out that the Big Duck site wasn’t flat enough, Mr. Fisher said.

FRNCA then heard from Pastor Keith Indovino of Truth Community Church on Bell Avenue in Flanders, next to the Flanders Community Center, offering the church property for the carnival. The church has recently hosted a “Hope Day” event there that drew just under 500 people.

But Mr. Fisher said the church property wasn’t big enough for the carnival companies.

Finally, they settled on Phillips Avenue Elementary School property in Riverside.

“This is an enormous field with lots of parking,” Mr. Fisher said.

He said he contacted Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney, who then bounced it off school board members. No one saw a problem with it, but the Board of Education will need approve the use by formal resolution at its June 21 meeting.

The proposed carnival will be a fundraisers for FRNCA, and Mr. Fisher has proposed offering $5 off admission for people who bring along school supplies to donate.

The carnival company, Newtown Shows, will sell the tickets and give FRNCA a percentage of the profit.

“It doesn’t cost us anything up front,” Mr. Fisher said.

Attendees at last Monday’s FRNCA meeting voiced support for the plan, although some suggested that the Big Duck property could be leveled off so a future carnival could be held there.

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Photo: Carnival rides at the 2014 Riverhead Country Fair near the Riverside traffic circle. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)