The St. Davids Lions Club Carnival marked the return of fun and fundraising to the village after two years of a stifling pandemic.
“It’s about time,” Stacy Brown said as her daughters whirled around on a carnival ride.
Brown was at the carnival with her two daughters, Aralyn, 6, and Jazalyn, 4.
Jazlyn was a little shy but Aralyn was confidently ready to talk about what she loved about the carnival.
“The slide,” she ecstatically shouted while pointing toward the attraction.
Chantal Hargreaves was visiting St. Davids from Mississauga. The Lake Report caught up with the mother just after she finished going down the slides with one of her daughters in her lap.
“It’s just so lively down here. There’s lots of people, there’s lots of things to do. It’s always interesting in Niagara-on-the-Lake,” she said.
Gatherings like the St. Davids carnival run on volunteer power. Well over 30 volunteers worked to make this year’s four-day event a smooth success.
“Oh, I just love it. I’m always involved with volunteers,” said Marianne McRae at the St. Davids-Queenston Church bake stand.
McRae is executive director of the Meals on Wheels program in Niagara.
“So, I’m always with volunteers. Volunteers are my life blood.”
As detailed in The Lake Report last week, the pies and baked goods at the carnival are all provided by the church. McRae said the carnival even lets the church keep the proceeds for its own needs.
“It’s a great fundraiser for the church and for the Lions. We’re so happy.”
Ted Burrows, past-president of the St. Davids Lions Club, was volunteering at the food stand.
“What I love about being a Lion is what they do with the money. All the money goes right back into the community. We don’t keep any of it,” said Burrows.
“Our motto is, ‘We serve’ but also, ‘Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.’ ”
Burrows had a big smile on his face as he looked around at the carnival crowds.
“It feels great to be back. It’s great to see a lot of old faces. It’s great to see the general public. I’ve had people come up and say, ‘Thank you for coming back,’ and that’s a big thing to hear.”
“I love it myself. It’s great to see the little kids having fun.”
Even though Burrows lives in St. Catharines, he said he reads The Lake Report every week to stay up-to-date on NOTL news.
The carnival brought out the positive spirit in many.
“I just want to give back and help out the community,” said volunteer Brian Mullen from St. Catharines.
“It’s a nice thing. The kids get to come and enjoy, the music’s fantastic — what isn’t there to love (about the carnival)?” said Carole Mullen, who was volunteering alongside her husband.
Brian said he thinks the positive impact of the pandemic was on display at the carnival.
“People are more generous. People haven’t given enough over the last two years so they’re just doing more than they would have,” said Brian.
The couple were sitting alongside Katherine Reid, a Lions Club zone chair. She heads the zone that encompasses the St. Davids club.
“This is the most popular event because it’s very family-friendly. It’s one of the most family-friendly carnivals around,” said Reid.
Erin Marklew could barely contain her enthusiasm while her two-year-old son, Jack, rode a pony for the first time.
“I love this carnival because it’s close and because they have a lot of rides for kids,” Marklew said.
“We also just like coming out and doing things in the community,” the NOTL newcomer said. Marklew and her family moved from St. Catharines in March of this year.
She said it was a joy to see her young son experience an event like the carnival for the first time in his life — a unique narrative tied to pandemic babies.
“This is the first summer that he’s really been able to do anything — to be a kid,” she said.
“He’s loving it.”