Kiwanis says goodbye to carnival

Children enjoy one of the handful of working rides at the 2015 Mustang Kiwanis Carnival. (Photographer/Victoria Middleton)

Children enjoy one of the handful of working rides at the 2015 Mustang Kiwanis Carnival. (Photographer/Victoria Middleton)

Spring carnival already cut, Western Days change final straw

Last year's Mustang Kiwanis carnival, as part of the annual Western Days event, was unknowingly the last carnival. (Photographer/Victoria Middleton)

Last year’s Mustang Kiwanis carnival, as part of the annual Western Days event, was unknowingly to be the last carnival. (Photographer/Victoria Middleton)

Mustang’s Kiwanis Club has been around longer than the city’s Western Days festival.

Current President Cindy Wilkerson said it has always been the club’s main goal to serve the needs of local children and families through their weekly food pantry.

To do so, though, the club will now go completely without one of its normal fundraisers – a carnival at Mustang’s Western Days.

Wilkerson said over the past few years, the carnival has not been as successful for the club. In fact, the spring carnival – the club also hosted with the same company – was stopped about five years ago because “we absolutely lost money on it,” she said.

But the loss of the carnival isn’t just about profitability, Wilkerson said.

“The quality of the carnival that we were able to bring in has declined over the years,” she said. “Getting another carnival lined up to come in and replace the one we had, we were not able to secure that.”

Carnival companies are scheduled a year in advance and many already have other annual events on their calendars, Wilkerson said. She went on to explain that the company Mustang Kiwanis always utilized changed ownership, being passed down from a father to his son.

“We wanted to provide a better one than what we had,” Wilkerson said. “The carnival was showing up with broken rides, that were shut down the whole time.”

Out of a typical 12 rides, Wilkerson said club members would often find only half of them up and running when they went to visit the carnival. Some were broken while others didn’t pass inspection, she said.

Through a contract, Mustang Kiwanis shared the financial commitment for the carnival crew to come in and shared any profits that came in, the club president said.

Previously, the carnival and much of the Western Days festival was centered at SH-152 and Mustang Road but there was also a time when it was located behind All America Bank, further west on SH-152, Wilkerson said. “Forty years ago it was all behind the bank but there wasn’t a strip mall there or storage buildings like there is now.”

“We are not a small town any more, we are a pretty bustling city now.”

Wilkerson said the change of the carnival’s location did have an impact on its success. When it was more visible, Wilkerson said people had the “impulse of it being right there.”

But she added, “It’s true it has not been as profitable the last few years. Other than the first year, we have barely broken even,” she said, referring to when the carnival was first moved from SH-152.

Wilkerson said the former more visible locations were because of a partnership between business owners in the area, chamber, the city and Kiwanis.

“You have to have a large location and have the owners of the property okay it to go in that location.”

“We will miss it,” Wilkerson said. “We were not able to bring it in at a quality that the people of Mustang deserve.

“All of our money, including the carnival funds, every single fundraiser that we have, whether it is a garage sale or the pancake breakfast, all goes to a good cause.”

Fortunately, the carnival is not the club’s only fundraiser. Tomorrow, they will still be a part of Western Days with their annual pancake breakfast at the Mustang United Methodist Church, 211 W. State Highway 152. The breakfast starts at 6:30 a.m. and goes to 10:30.

From the funds raised by the club, they will continue on with their weekly food pantry. It is open every Saturday and families are able to come once a month for food.

“Mustang has grown and things have changed. There are some things that don’t work anymore because they are less popular, less attendance,” she said, referring to the street dance Western Days also use to include.

Wilkerson was very appreciative of the festival committee that works “year long.”

“A lot of people’s efforts and time goes into the planning of the event.”

“It’s a disappointment and we are sorry we are disappointing anyone in Mustang. There is not a profit every year but that’s not the deciding factor. We have worked with the original owner who turned things over to the son but there has not been upkeep on the rides.”

Mustang Chamber Executive Director said there will still be much to do at this year’s Western Days.

“The Chili Cook-Off, the Chuck Wagon Cook-Off, the Guthrie Gunfighters, a caricature artist, face painting, inflatables and more will all be at Wildhorse Park,” she said. “Of course, there is still the parade, rodeo and the car show.”

Peerman invited the community to join as volunteers to help make the event continue to be possible. She also welcomed constructive input as the chamber and planning committee “continues to try and keep up with the rapid growth of eastern Canadian County, Mustang in particular.”

About Mustang Kiwanis

The club averages around 30 to 35 members and is always looking for new faces.

“Anyone that wants to be a part of the community and serving is welcome,” Wilkerson said. “We are an international organization and our main focus is serving the needs of kids.”

The food pantry is their biggest project and is widely supported by the community from school food drives, local Boy Scouts, churches, the post office and more.

“Our main goal is the food pantry to support the community and making sure our kids are fed and senior citizens come to us a lot too.”

“We keep the food collected in Mustang, in Mustang.”

During the holidays, the Kiwanis club provides approximately 125 food baskets through a partnership with the school district by making sure local families have food to eat.

The Mustang Kiwanis club meets at 7:30 a.m. every Saturday in the old Mustang fire department, located in the back of the current historical society building across from the new fire station on SH-152.

“Anybody who wants to be part of us, we would love for you to come visit us,” Wilkerson said.

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