Carnival comes to town: The Fair on Marco benefits Marco Y and MICMS

Olivia Hamilton, right, and Alexis Dwyer give a thumbs up. The Fair on Marco, benefiting the YMCA and MICMS, was held over the weekend at Veterans' Community Park. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Olivia Hamilton, right, and Alexis Dwyer give a thumbs up. The Fair on Marco, benefiting the YMCA and MICMS, was held over the weekend at Veterans' Community Park. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— This past weekend, Marco Island went to the fair. At least, those who were willing to brave a brisk wind and below average temperatures went, to the second annual Fair on Marco, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Veterans’ Community Park.

They rode the midway rides, frolicked in the bounce house and humongous slides, and pestered their parents for carnival food like cotton candy and do people really eat deep fried candy bars? They spun the wheel at the Kriger Orthodontics booth for the chance to win an iPad and other prizes. They listened to homegrown and imported entertainment, including a ZZ Top tribute band Trezz Hombres, the Lords of Cool, and the MICMS Jazz Band and Starz from Marco Island Charter Middle School.

MICMS was one of the beneficiaries of funds raised by the fair, along with the Greater Marco Family YMCA. That pairing is replicated by the bosses of the respective organizations, so it’s a natural partnership. Cindy Love, CEO of the Y, and George Abounader, principal at MICMS, are married, presumably making for close coordination between the two while working on the fair. Both Love and Abounader were on hand at the fair on Saturday, but generally heading off in different directions at a good clip, speaking into a walkie-talkie, along with fair chairperson Allyson Richards.

Cindy Love said that for the past couple days, perhaps the most important man in her life had been Erik Condee, who volunteered to keep things running.

“I keep yelling ‘Erik!’ He’s on standby for the next emergency,” she said, as the two parked their golfcart out of the wind for a moment. Love said the cool weather was impacting attendance, “but we were packed last night. Nighttime is really when you come out to do the rides.”

The carnival attractions on the midway, the rides and games where children could win stuffed animals or goldfish, were provided by Tolve Presentations, which does many similar fairs in the area. Company president John Tolve is a third-generation “carnie,” if that’s the right word, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

“My grandfather started in the ’40s, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” said Tolve. “It’s a great business we bring a little happiness wherever we go.” His rides are all inspected regularly by the State of Florida, he said, and pointed out the green sticker on the Tilt-a-whirl nearby.

Additional rides included Gatorland, a train track on which a smiling alligator-shaped train took young kids on a gentle, but nevertheless thrilling, oval-shaped path, Dizzy Dragons, Castle Mania, two Ferris wheels, the Super Slide, and the Hurricane, with swirling aerial boats, the only hurricane anyone on Marco wants to see.

“That was crazy,” said four-year-old Samantha Shadrick after her ride. “I love it.” The midway was set up on the parking lot, and on the other, grassy side of the fair, the local booths, entertainment stage, and more amusements lined up.

Wally Satello and Zachary Stenberg, both 12, competed who could send the marker highest by whacking a lever with a sledgehammer. Andrew Meyers ruled on the climbing wall, zipping up to the flags on top while bigger kids struggled to keep heading upwards. Gail Brockett used her bullhorn like a carnival barker to bring people to spin the wheel of fortune. Cody Webb, 12, took one spin and won the chance to win the iPad donated by Dr. Kriger.

People got out on the island and had a good time, money was raised for two worthwhile causes, and if the weather seemed chilly, just wait a few months a cool breeze might feel pretty good.

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