I first became aware of what seems like a terrific school carnival in Aiken, S.C. about a year ago. St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic School holds an annual “Chocolate Festival” each fall. And from what I can tell, this is one of the best models a school can follow when planning their own fundraising event.
I am particularly impressed by their “everything but the kitchen sink” strategy when it comes to planning this carnival.
An article in the Aiken Standard from September 29, 2009 (written by Rachel Johnson) paints an excellent picture of what goes on here.
First of all, the carnival takes place on a Saturday, which I believe is the best day to hold a school carnival. Also, they take into account the entire communities’ potential interest in attending their festival. As you will read, people who have nothing to do with the school at all would want to attend this event.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
This year’s festival will feature loads of fun including games, vendors, inflatables for kids, plant sale, horse-drawn carriage rides through downtown Aiken, T-shirt sale, frozen casserole sale, pie-eating contest, remote-controlled car raceway contest, a chocolate carousel and, of course, lots and lots of chocolate to satisfy the sweet tooth.
The Gourmet Coffee Stand is especially popular in the morning and will be located near the used book sale inside. The book sale will feature VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs, board games and more.
The International Foods booth is a favorite lunch spot that will serve many delicious items from around the globe. The plant sale will feature perennials, bulbs and much more. Patrons will be able to order mums and pansies. New this year will be the sale of homemade pestos, jams, jellies and salsas. During the Chocolate Festival, participants will be able to sign up for party baskets including an oyster roast, St. Patrick’s Day party, Super Bowl party and a Caribbean-themed party. And don’t forget to give blood at the Shepeard Community Blood Mobile.
Several new activities have been added to this year’s festival. There will be “Karaoke Idol” for group or individual performances, and video may be available. There will be an expanded vendor booth section showcasing local and home-based businesses and non-profit organizations. The Aiken SPCA will have several animals available for adoption.
“This year we are partnering with the Aiken Public Safety fire cadets. There will be an extreme challenge obstacle course for the kids,” Driscoll said. “The fire cadets will bring a fire truck and set up an obstacle course similar to the training course fire cadets undergo. The idea is to teach children to be the best that you can be and to work with the kids to encourage and teach them. We are so glad we are partnering with them.”
In addition, the Aiken Public Safety bicycle patrol will be on hand to offer bicycle safety tips and new helmets. Youth are encouraged to bring their old helmets to trade in for new helmets.
As you can see, St. Mary’s has plenty of places for families to spend money that will help their school. If your school carnival only has a few inflatables and a refreshments stand, you are really missing some incredible opportunities to raise funds for your school.
Be creative and try lots of different ideas to make your school carnival a financial success!
If you’d like to get dozens of more school carnival ideas and loads of great advice, check out the e-book I wrote- The 2009-2010 School Carnival Money Making Guide.