Run away to the Carnival this weekend

The Woonsocket-based Mac's Carnival is owned and operated by the McWhorter family. From left are Luke, his grandfather, Jim, and his father and uncle, Lon and Pete. They are shown in front of the carousel; it and the ferris wheel being their two "pride pieces" as far as the many different rides go.

Mac’s Carnival, which had been scheduled to run in Pierre during the cancelled Oahe Days, is in Pierre now. Set up directly north of the Northridge Plaza, it is still open Saturday, July 11, from noon to close, and Sunday, July 12, from noon to 5 p.m. (or to close if the crowds persist).

“We’re a local, several-generation family company,” said Luke McWhorter, general manager. His father and uncle, Lon and Pete, have their own responsibilities in the show. And their father, Jim, is ever present in the running of the business. The company is based out of Woonsocket. Pierre is their second stop of the season. After Pierre, they are headed to Custer, eventually ending this odd 2020 season in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“We normally work through December in the southern states, but, this year, things are different. For example, Nebraska is closed because of COVID,” said Lon.

“We are trying to do our best during the pandemic, being safe for everyone and bringing people fun,” said Luke. He said that there are seven separate rides for kids — 36-50 inches tall; there are eight rides for adults — starting at 48 inches tall; and two rides for the entire family “or something like that, depending on the family. The ferris wheel and the carousel are our pride pieces,” said Luke. There are also lots of varieties of food — AKA “carnival treats” — and of course the games.

There are lots of stories connected with running a carnival. One, according to Lon, is the history of the lighting, which goes from bulbs to other sources and ending with today’s LED lighting. “The Moms tell us the LEDs are so bright that it is hard to take pictures of their kids and other family members. The Moms will tell you everything,” smiled Lon.

Some of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society. “We are pleased and blessed to be here. God is good,” said Pete.”It’s always good to have the good, instead of just the bad.” The carnival has a social distancing plan and has sanitizing stations throughout the grounds.

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