Smokey Point Carnival aims for higher attendance in year 2

SMOKEY POINT — James Eubanks hopes that four new rides, a variety of food and a family day with live country music will nearly double attendance at the second summer Smokey Point Carnival.

“The thing I learned from last year is that every year you

can do something to make it better,” said Eubanks, who chairs the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce’s carnival committee.

About 28,000 people attended the carnival last year, which was the event’s first go-round and a learning experience for volunteer coordinators, Eubanks said.

This year’s carnival starts Thursday and wraps up Sunday at the corner of 172nd Street and 51st Avenue, near the Stillaguamish Athletic Club.

The goal is to bring in 50,000 people, Eubanks said. He’ll weigh the success of this year’s carnival to determine how much more can be done in the future. While he was involved in last year’s carnival, this is his first year coordinating the event. He plans to continue in the role next year.

Though there’s a goal for the carnival head count, chamber director Stacie Roark said this year’s most important objective is to raise as much money as possible for Oso mudslide relief efforts. Chamber volunteers will staff a booth where people can make donations. Local country musician Jesse Taylor also will perform two free shows on Sunday and sell CDs, with $5 from each sale going to Oso relief efforts.

The carnival is designed to be a fundraiser for the chamber. Last year’s event generated about $39,000, said Mary Jane Harmon, former managing director of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce. A portion of the revenue goes to pay off carnival costs, and the rest can be funneled back into other community events, like the chamber’s Fourth of July children’s carnival, she said.

While the first Smokey Point Carnival drummed up a fair amount of interest, organizers say it had a few hiccups, like rides crammed too close together, lack of food options and minimal marketing,

“People thought it was this rinky dink thing until they got into it,” Harmon said. “We learned we can set it up as a big, full, all-the-way-down-the-street carnival, and hopefully we fixed all the glitches from last year.”

This year’s carnival line-up includes a long list of food vendors, a dozen rides and a family day on Sunday with live music and discounted meals, according to the chamber.

The chamber also chose to extend the hours. Last year’s carnival was an evening affair, opening at 4 p.m. all four days. This year’s celebration will run from 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.

“Last year’s event was more catered to kids probably up to 13,” Eubanks said. “This year we’re bringing in more rides and things that are for teenagers and adults.”

It had been more than five years since Arlington enjoyed a big carnival when Harmon and fellow volunteer Debbie Whitis got in touch with Butler Amusements last year, Harmon said. Eubanks said he hopes to continue growing the festival.

“This is going to run real smooth,” he said. “I’m already thinking about next year.”

Wristbands for all-day rides are $15 until 4 p.m. Wednesday and $19 during the carnival. People can purchase wristbands at the Union Bank branches in Smokey Point and Arlington, the Schoolbox Bookstore, Coastal Community Bank and the chamber’s office at 104 North Olympic Ave. in Arlington.

General admission to the carnival is free.

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