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Popular summer event in Union County in jeopardy

The Mifflinburg Hose Company Firemen’s Carnival has been a big highlight for residents of this small community since the 1950s.

MIFFLINBURG, Pa. — A popular summer event in a Union County community is in jeopardy. 

Growing costs and an aging venue means the fireman's carnival in Mifflinburg could be on the chopping block.

The fire company will likely choose safety over fun.

The Mifflinburg Hose Company Firemen's Carnival has been a big highlight for residents of this small community since the 1950s.

Megan Scott has been going since she was little.

"We are a small town, so for the kids, and the adults too because the food is a big bonus, but for the kids especially, it's the one thing to look forward to," said Scott of Mifflinburg.

The event has been a steady fundraiser for the fire company for decades.

"We've gotten really tremendous support from our community from that, but times have changed," said Chuck Close, President of Mifflinburg Hose Company.

Close says the carnival grounds, owned by the local VFW, need serious electrical and building maintenance nearing $100,000 in cost. 

Fewer people are showing up for multiple days, and vendors are eating away at the fire company's proceeds. 

In 2021, the carnival was cut from five days down to three.

"We've been down this road for probably ten years or more, and now's the time. We've just got to start working smarter, not harder," Close said.

On top of it all, some of the department's fire trucks will soon need to be replaced; that could cost almost a million dollars. 

The issue was on the mind of Fire Chief Steve Walters during a public meeting about the carnival's future, saying the public's safety takes precedent.

"I want to invest money where it's going to help the community," Walters said. "Not in a piece of land that we don't own. That's money that we could use in a better place."

Walters says there are other ways to raise funds with less effort and less people.

"We could sit two chicken barbeque cookers out back here and make three grand every Saturday morning," he added.

Residents say they'd be sad to see the carnival end but understand the company's situation. 

The company president and the fire chief say they want to avoid taking volunteer firemen and turning them into volunteer fundraisers. 

The final decision on the future of the Mifflinburg Firemen's Carnival will take place at a meeting on January 31.

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