Family carnival coming to Niles this weekend

NILES – Carnival rides and fair food will return to the Four Flags Area Apple Festival grounds, at Lake and N. 17th streets, this weekend, as the Skerbeck Family Carnival arrives for its first spring event in Niles.

At the Four Flags Area Apple Festival grounds, Sonja Skerbeck, marketing and booking for Skerbeck Entertainment Group, said beginning Thursday afternoon, the carnival will open for thrill-seekers and hungry patrons to enjoy the attractions. She is excited for the weekend’s summery weather to accompany the carnival.

Favorite rides such as the Tilt-O-Whirl, Cliffhanger, bumper cars, Jungle Explorer, a Merry-Go-Round and more will be a part of the four-day carnival hosted by Skerbeck Entertainment Group at the Four Flags Area Apple Festival grounds Thursday, May 20 through Sunday, May 23.

“It’s a smaller version of what we bring to the Four Flags Apple Festival,” Skerbeck said of this weekend’s offerings. “It’s not quite the same footprint. I’d call it a limited carnival event.”

The spring carnival is a new event for Skerbeck Entertainment Group this year, after uncertainty around COVID-19 cases and regulations got the season off to a rocky start.

“It’s just been a recent phenomenon that the COVID-19 rates have dropped,” Skerbeck said.

She approached the Four Flags Area Apple Festival group, with the knowledge that the carnival would have already had an event prior to the Niles carnival event to smooth out this years’ process.

“We knew we’d have a really good system in place for operating a festival,” she said. “It’s very difficult once you get a show moving on the road – you need to have bookings every week. We’re really happy Niles stepped up to host it. We’re really grateful to be able to do this.”

Skerbeck said the group is operating the carnival under the requirements currently in place in Michigan by area health department guidance. The guidance will limit the carnival’s capacity to help maintain social distancing.

“We’ll have an egress point where we track how many people are coming and leaving,” Skerbeck said. “We have increased cleaning on all the high-touch surfaces, like automated telling machine pads, ride fencing and lap bars.”
The carnival will also have hand sanitizer available at each ride on the fencing.

Face masks are recommended, but not required. Skerbeck said the group’s employees have all received COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We think it’s great when people choose to [wear masks], but that’s not required,” Skerbeck said. “There’s evidence that it’s safe to be at outdoor gatherings.”

After the group’s first events, she said she felt happy to be hosting events again.

“It was nice to hear kids’ joyful screams and families getting out and getting fresh air,” she said.

Skerbeck said the family carnival will have a capacity of 1,000 people. The carnival is limiting sales of ride wristbands to 300 each. The wristbands are $30 and only sold on-site. The first 150 residents who received a COVID-19 vaccination at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA clinic on Wednesday, May 19, can show their pin at the carnival’s security to skip to the front of the entrance line. Ride tickets will be sold at the event: four tickets for $5, or a sheet of 50 tickets for $50. The sheet of 50 tickets does not expire, and can be used throughout the weekend or later at the Four Flags Area Apple Festival, which Skerbeck Family Carnival brings rides to.

More information can be found at Skerbeck.com, or at the carnival’s Facebook event page: Family Carnival in Niles.

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