Ishpeming carnival promises fundraising fun

ISHPEMING – If going upside-down on a ride called “Fireball” sounds appealing, Ishpeming is the place to be later this week.

The carnival will be in downtown Ishpeming Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a variety of games and rides – “state-fair-quality stuff,” according to Kurt Kipling, the event’s organizer.

The carnival will start at 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at noon Saturday, running until about 11 p.m. each day, Kipling said, depending on weather and the number of people who come out.

“If the weather’s holding and everybody’s out and having a good time, we’ll stay open,” he said.

Wristbands are $17 and provide access to all rides, which in addition to Fireball include Himalaya, Gravitron, Paratrooper and brand-new scooter bumper cars, among others.

Having been put on in Ishpeming for more than a decade by Escanaba-based Skerbeck Brothers Shows, the fun doubles as a fundraiser, with part of the carnival’s proceeds going to the Ishpeming Firemen’s Association and Bay Cliff Health Camp.

“We do raise a lot of money for the Ishpeming firemen. … We raise money this way so the firemen don’t have to go to the taxpayer every time we turn around, and we’ve raised money for some pretty important equipment for their trucks,” Kipling said. “We’ve equipped the … new all-wheel-drive one: they needed some covers for their hoses and we were able to do that with carnival money. They had a brand-new brush truck they needed some toolboxes (for) and we were able to buy (those) with carnival money. We’ve also replaced air pack masks that were older and we were able to buy those, so we’ve boughten some pretty important stuff for the Ishpeming firemen, and it’s kind of fun to raise money for that stuff.

“I mean, these guys work hard in a pretty thankless job, so it’s kind of nice to be able to give them a big check on the end of the fundraiser.”

Kipling said the carnival wrote $3,750 checks to both the association and Bay Cliff last year.

“Bay Cliff has been around forever, and we raise money for them all the time for handicap children and stuff,” he said. “And I’ve been out there, I’ve seen it; years ago, I actually (went) up there when I was in the Blue Notes (Drum and Bugle Corps) in high school and got to see the handicap kids and stuff, so it’s a very important program to keep going and just support. So it’s fun that Ishpeming can actually host this and be a part of that.”

It’s also an opportunity to draw thousands of people to downtown Ishpeming, Kipling said.

“Some for the first time and some just to get ’em down there again, so it gets a chance to showcase your downtown for … people from all over Marquette County,” he said.

On Friday night, there’ll also be a special price for football players from Ishpeming and Westwood high schools.

“If you’re a football player … after the football game come on down and your wristband is half price,” Kipling said. “That’s something new we’re trying this year.”

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.