By Krystle Bono — The smell of funnel cake and sounds of giggling kids will fill the warm, summer air surrounding the Chincoteague Carnival grounds once again as the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company opens its gates for the 94th season, beginning this weekend.
Ninety-four years is a long time. To be one of the longest running volunteer summer carnivals in the state, and possibly the U.S., is yet another reason on the extensive list of things that make Chincoteague the choice for many to flock to during the warmer months.
The carnival first planted its roots in 1925 after the town experienced two severe fires, one in 1920 and another in 1924, leaving parts of the island in total destruction and devastating residents, who in turn, were forced to acknowledge the need for better fire equipment and resources. Because of this, the town authorized the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company to be formed, and they were approved to host a carnival during pony penning week to help raise funds to go toward their needs. The auction sold 15 colts to help benefit the fire company on top of the carnival proceeds, and the carnival itself ended up being extremely successful, and thus paved way for it to become an annual event. Over the years, the carnival offered pony rides and nightly pony races on top of the usual carnival attractions, drawing bigger crowds with every year that passed.
From its inception, the carnival and Pony Penning has evolved into what we all know and love today, with a string of events that attract visitors from across the country.
The carnival grounds are located at 3648 Main St., Chincoteague, and aside from rides for all ages to enjoy, there are plenty of games to be played, including bingo, live entertainment, and a variety of food for sale, such as fresh clam and oyster fritters, hot dogs, and pizza. It now runs for a month from the last weekend in June through Pony Penning week, which falls during the last Wednesday and Thursday of July. This year, it will be open June 28-29, July 3-6, 12-13, 19-20, and will be open during Pony Penning July 22-27, from 7 to 11 p.m.