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Fathoms will be without a carnival this year

Fathom organizers are confident this year
Fathom organizers are confident this year's event will be as enjoyable as previous festivals, even though there won't be a carnival.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

This summer’s Fathoms o’Fun Festival will include some new and expanded events, but it will also be missing at least one familiar attraction that has drawn both crowds and complaints — the carnival.

Al Mahaney, chair of the festival, said the organizers’ contract with the previous carnival operators expired this year and an acceptable replacement could not be found.

“We will not contract with a carnival that does not meet (the board’s) standards for safety, operating procedures and public appeal,” Mahaney said, explaining that the carnival the board previously hired was not available for this year’s festival.

Mahaney said the board is searching for an “acceptable carnival” for next year’s festival.

The carnival, which helps raise money to pay for the festival’s fireworks show, has proved controversial in the past as downtown business owners alleged in recent years that the rides blocked parking and brought more garbage and vandalism, along with other crime, than revenue.

In 2007, the board reduced the size of the carnival by four rides, which freed up more parking and reduced the impact on other businesses downtown, but raised significantly less money for the organizers.

This summer, instead of the carnival, Fathoms’ organizers will be hosting a “craft and vendor fair” for three days from Friday, June 26 to Sunday, June 28 in the parking lot east of the library, where the carnival is usually located.

Mahaney said the fair will include a variety of goods in 100 or more booths, and vendors from the Port Orchard Farmer’s Market will be invited to participate. There will also be an area set aside for children’s activities, including inflatable “bouncy toys.”

There will also be a vendor fair hosted on the day of the parade — June 27 — as in the past, which will include numerous vendor booths at both ends of Bay Street.

Despite the lack of a carnival, Mahaney said the board is working on providing a larger, improved fireworks show, which in recent years has been sponsored by Wave Broadband.

“We’re going to try and expand the fireworks show,” he said, adding that the board is still “working on fund-raising events” and is taking “baby steps” toward its goal.

The board will also be taking over some of the hosting duties for the “Concerts by the Bay” held at the gazebo along Port Orchard’s waterfront park. The concerts had been hosted for years by the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department, which was forced to cancel many community activities due to budget constraints.

Mahaney said the Fathoms board will be working with officials from the Port of Bremerton, the city of Port Orchard and the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce to put on the concerts.

There will be 10 concerts this year — up from six last summer — and in addition to the eight Thursday night concerts from July 9 to Aug. 27, Mahaney said there will be one June 26 and one on the Fourth of July.

He said there will be a “variety of music,” and he is currently talking to bands interested in performing.

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