MARILLA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Each summer, thousands of people flock to fields with games, rides and raffles. They’re there attending local carnivals and festivals run by fire companies.
They’re quickly becoming a thing of the past for many areas.
“We worry it’ll die and stuff like that as communities around,” said Brad Wurthner, the Marilla Fire Company Chief.
These concerns are backed by watching what is happening to other small town’s festivities. Stafford and Elba have both postponed planning their annual events after the gaming commission began looking into the way they run their raffles — which generate thousands of dollars for the small towns and their fire companies.
“Change scares everybody but sometimes it’s necessary,” said Wurthner talking about the change that could be coming after a bill was proposed to amend the gaming commission’s regulations for raffles, which would allow fundraisers like raffles to accept internet payments, credit cards and checks.
Wurthner says Marilla’s carnival’s continuance isn’t in question now but he does understand how financially important these events are for fire companies.
“The big carnivals used to draw in a ton of money,” starts Wurthner. “But crowds decrease and stuff and people have different things to do.”
Wurthner says the fire company brings in around $10,000 to $15,000 each year through the carnival but that number is less than it was years ago.
“Overtime, young kids, young families, technology, people find different things to do in the summer,” said Wurthner. “It’s hard to get people down here and give them a reason to come to a carnival in a small town.”
Due to the decline in attendees and funding, the Marilla department has had to rely on the money flow from the carnival less.
“It has taken a backseat over the years,” said Wurthner. “Things are so expensive, if we relied on just the carnival we obviously wouldn’t make it.”
The money the carnival brings in still supports the company.
“You don’t always want to use the taxpayer dollars we get from the town to pay for apparutes or things like that,” said Wurthner.
Every year, when the conversation comes up and the planning begins, Wurthner says the fears come back if their carnival will be next to go.
“It would hurt to lose the carnival financially but more so, the camaraderie, the community event,” said Wurthner.