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Downtown carnival filled with summer shenanigans

More than 500 parents and children spent their sunny Saturday afternoon in downtown Suffolk at the Camp Suffolk Public Library’s Grand Finale Carnival at the corner of West Washington and Lee Streets.

Children lined up for their turn in the harness at the 25-foot-high Virginia National Guard rock wall. The climb was a first for some of them, like Julian, 10, Justin, 11, and Jalen Irby, 12. Their aunt, Andrea Harris, captured the moment with her smartphone. Harris said she found out about the carnival through Facebook.

“It gives them something to do, not be in the house and experience new things,” she said about the carnival.

Others were with Outreach Operations Librarian Amy Brunson in the shade of the crafting tent making boondoggle keychains, book page buntings and do-it-yourself birdfeeders made with pipe cleaners and Cheerios. Brunson said the birdfeeders turned out to be really popular for the crafty little ones.

“I’m going to be eating this one myself,” Virginia Hubbard, 8, said as she held up her cereal-laden masterpiece.

Raffle tickets, water and popcorn were distributed at the Library2Go mobile as children played ring toss or Jenga or spun around with hula hoops. There were youngsters playing in the mist of the blowup arch and enjoying the pony rides and petting zoo provided by Dobbins Mini Farm.

“We’ve done face painting, balloons, the horse and some more of the animals here,” said Kristen Brown, who was at the carnival with two of her children and a nephew. “We ran through the water arch. It’s just lots of fun.”

Things got messy on the stage when contestants went face first into the pie-eating contest at 11 a.m. No utensils or hands were allowed, and the winner received an $15 O’doodledoo’s Donuts gift card. Each competitor had their faces covered in whatever fruit filling they chose.

The gift card winner turned out to be Isle of Wight resident Tabetha Earnhardt, who competed with her daughter, Madison, 16, and son, Thaniel, 13. She said that scarfing down that pie didn’t make the victory any sweeter, a sentiment shared by Gabrielle Looney, 25.

“I didn’t know how to eat the bottom part of the crust,” Looney said, laughing, after the contest.

There was a talent show at noon that featured plenty of dancing and dog tricks for the audience to cheer and applaud. First-, second- and third-place trophies along with gift cards were at stake. First place went to Jonathan Saelans and his yo-yo tricks, second to Kyleen Capps who sang “Better for It” by Riley Clemmons and third to the violin playing of Deborah Foltz, 6.

There was cheering for the pie eating, the talented performances and the outrageous sliming that occurred afer the talent show. The library’s Deborah Ward, Shawna LoMonaco and April Watkins all got hit with a bucket of green slime straight out of ‘90s Nickelodeon, using a recipe that consisted of oatmeal, applesauce, vanilla pudding, cornstarch and green food coloring, according to Watkins.

“It was very awesome,” Watkins said. “It was sticky, cold and oddly refreshing until you realize you had sticky goop all over you. But the audience reaction was great.”

Readers in Suffolk voted for the three SPL staff members that they wanted to see slimed at the Saturday carnival after they crushed the Camp SPL Summer Reading Challenge goal. They had a target of reading and logging 8,000 books by Aug. 4 and crossed the finish line on July 17.

According to beanstack.org, 18,908 books were logged as of Saturday evening. Watkins said she’s proud of Suffolk’s community of readers and that this summer finale was a success.

“I really enjoyed seeing the community come together,” Watkins said. “We had people from all over Suffolk here today. It was fantastic and the highlight of my summer.”