As you are coming across the long stretch of causeway on a Friday night in July, you cannot help but notice the soft glow emanating from the carnival grounds on Main Street. As you get closer you will hear the sounds of children squealing with delight on any number of rides, numbers being called out to a packed house at the bingo stand, and the banter of local volunteers selling a plethora of delicious food offerings. It is carnival fun for everyone!
The smell of fresh oyster fritters waft in the air and someone walks by with a portion of french fries as big as their head. It’s easy to see why locals and visitors alike look forward to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival year after year. It’s a time-honored family tradition!
You’ll find our local fireman and volunteers preparing their stations for opening night each spring, fitting in some time after a long work day to make sure their designated rides are in tip-top shape for the season. The carnival is open on weekends from the end of June through July – and every night during the week of the swim, during which carnival excitement is at it’s crescendo.
After the horses make their annual swim across Assateague Channel on Wednesday, they make their way through town to the carnival grounds, where they will stay in the fenced corral on site for two nights. Foals are marked for sale and auctioned off on Thursday morning at the ring in front of the corral. Then on Friday morning, the majority of the herd make the reverse trek back home to Assateague Island – and resume their wild lives for another year.
It’s a great time to see the horses up close and personal, and get some great photos. Food stands at the carnival grounds are usually open after the horses arrive on site after the swim, as well as during the auction. Nothing beats an oyster fritter after a long morning at the pony swim!
There are few places left that take you back to a special place and time, but it’s waiting for you here on beautiful Chincoteague Island. Make plans to come visit, and start sharing this special island tradition with someone that you love.
Submitted by Laura Davis