Free carnival for a well-read community

Published 8:15 pm Monday, July 29, 2019


Suffolk Public Library will celebrate the city’s avid readership at its free downtown carnival for Saturday, and readers of all ages have earned an especially colorful finale at the carnival through their dominance in the Camp SPL Summer Reading Challenge.

The Camp SPL Finale Carnival will be held this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the lot at the corner of West Washington Street and Lee Street. This carnival is free to attend and open to the public. Visitors will also be able to purchase food and other goods from vendors.

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But the food trucks and vendors’ tables are the only things that cost money, said April Watkins, early childhood senior librarian and the library’s carnival team lead. The rest of the carnival is free of charge for everyone to enjoy, especially Suffolk’s young readers.

“Every bounce house, every pony ride, every game, every craft, every ride on the barrel train … it’s all free,” Watkins wrote in an email.

According to a city press release, Dobbins Mini Farm will provide pony rides and a petting farm at the carnival. There will be a field games tournament and a doughnut-eating competition, barrel train rides and virtual reality roller coasters, and performers like a stilt walker, juggler and magician.

The Virginia National Guard will have its popular rock wall at the carnival. The SPARC Shoppe will paint faces and Drawn2Draughn will make free caricatures for people. Community Church will bring bounce houses for the kids, and they’ll cool off in water games and under the refreshing Rainbow Water Arch.

“This year for the carnival we wanted to go bigger,” Watkins stated. “We are bringing in more performers and experiences to really create a spectacle for our community of readers.”

At 1:30 p.m., attendees will gather in the front field to participate in a Color Blast Celebration. Participants will get their own cups of colored powder — while supplies last — to toss into the air when the celebration begins.

People are encouraged to wear white T-shirts for “maximum color impact,” according to the press release. Things will also get messy, and it’s suggested that those driving bring towels to put down in their vehicles to protect their seats.

The Color Blast is Suffolk’s reward for beating the library’s Summer Reading Challenge goal. Readers in Suffolk were tasked with reading and logging 14,000 books before the carnival. The challenge began on June 15 and continues through Friday.

Readers crossed the finish line in time for the Color Blast, with 14,080 books read and logged on the online Beanstack platform as of 6 p.m. Monday.

“Suffolk has worked exceptionally hard to reach our reading goal, which deserves to be celebrated,” Watkins stated in the press release.

Search for “Camp SPL Finale Carnival” on Facebook for a schedule of the different carnival activities on Saturday. Registration will be required at the carnival site for the relay/field games and doughnut-eating contest, with doughnuts provided by O’doodleDoo’s Donuts of Suffolk. Participants will register at the Library2Go mobile the day of the event.

Readers can still log books for the Summer Reading Challenge for the chance to win raffle prizes. Everyone is eligible to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge, and a library card is not required to participate. All ages can log books through the Beanstack online platform.

Challenge participants earn one raffle ticket per book read and logged, with three age groups of prizes: ages 0 to 7, 8 to 17 and 18 and older. These prizes were made possible with support from Friends of the Suffolk Public Library.

One winner will be chosen in each age group and will be able to select from a list of prizes, including a Virtual Reality Oculus Go Headset, Nauticus and Virginia Living Museum annual passes and other selections worth roughly $225 each.

There will also be separate raffles at the carnival with even more prizes.

Furthermore, community members can still cast their votes through the library’s social media pages for their summer “cabins.” Each cabin is a different duo of library staff members, and each has its own unique mascot and attitude.

Voting will continue through Friday, and the winning cabin’s counselors will open the Color Blast on Saturday.

The Beanstack App can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play. More information about the Summer Reading Challenge can be found at