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Come one, come all!: Detroit Lakes Elementary School Carnival set for March 23, volunteers needed

A kiddo rolls around in Tootsie Rolls at the Detroit Lakes Elementary School Carnival. He's got two-sided tape stuck to his clothes, and he gets to keep whatever candy sticks to him. Submitted Photo1 / 4
Students wear balloon hats at the Detroit Lakes Elementary School Carnival. Submitted Photo2 / 4
The school carnival also features a bouncy house every year. The 2019 carnival, set for March 23, will be no different. Submitted Photo3 / 4
The Pork Chop Speedway is a classic carnival game that will be back at the Laker Elementary Carnival this year. Submitted Photo4 / 4

The fifth annual Detroit Lakes Elementary School Carnival is right around the corner, and organizer Amber Bender says they're still looking for about 90 volunteers to help run games and concessions at the event, set for Saturday, March 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"We really, really need volunteers. That's the thing of desperation we need every year," said Bender, adding that every year they have set up all their games and have had to put some away on the morning of the event because they just don't have enough people to run them all.

The carnival is held in the Detroit Lakes Middle School each year. Though it's a fundraiser for the Roosevelt and Rossman elementary schools, the middle school gym is just a better and bigger space — a good place for everyone to come together, Bender says.

The Rossman and Roosevelt parent-teacher organizations support the event, and the schools split the proceeds, which help fund supplementary activities for students, like field trips and other fun additions to their education. The dollars also help to pay for other items that make learning a little more convenient. For example, one year, the schools were able to buy carts for their Chromebooks with money raised at the carnival.

"Last year and the year before, we were able to give each elementary school about $7,000," said Bender. "It's a big fundraiser. I mean, $14,000 (raised) in three hours on a Saturday is pretty amazing."

The games, along with a silent auction at the carnival, help to raise much of the funds, but not all of the money comes from the event itself. Some businesses donate money to the event.

There are many other ways to get involved as well: Bender says an ideal situation is when a business sponsors a game by having employees sign up as volunteers to oversee the game and then also donating prizes for the game. Some businesses in the past have been creative with the prizes and personalized them with their company brand.

As for the games that will be featured this year, Bender says a lot of the classics will be back, like pig races (with stuffed pigs); a nose pick game, where lucky winners pull prizes out of a giant paper mache nose...or end up slimed; a bird shot game, where players try to knock over a little, wooden bird; mystery fishing; a bean bag toss; a bouncy house; and many more.

Bender says they will also have a favored game, the Tootsie Roll roll, where kids get two-sided tape stuck to them, and then they roll around on Tootsie Rolls and get to keep whatever sticks to them. She says kids, parents, and volunteers alike spend the entire afternoon laughing and the silly games.

"It's a hoot to watch the kids," said Bender.

Live minnow races will be a new game this year; Bender says they have 28 games ready to go for the event, and they're really hoping to get enough volunteers to be able to use them all.

For volunteers, the three-hour event is broken up into two shifts, so people can choose to volunteer for one-and-a-half hours or all three hours of the event. Bender says that way they are easing the volunteer commitment as much as possible. As more incentive beyond just being part of a fun afternoon, volunteers are also given a free game punch card for each shift worked, so they can volunteer from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and spend the next hour and a half playing carnival games, or vice versa. Bender says some parents and grandparents choose to volunteer for both shifts and then give their punch cards to their kids or grandkids.

The event will also have food available for purchase. Each year they serve tacos in a bag, and this year will be no different. There will be an added station for dessert, though. This year, Cherry Berry donated ice cream toppings, so they will have a sundae station at the carnival.

Donating supplies or food, like Cherry Berry, is just one more way businesses can get involved. Anyone looking to donate time, money, or supplies to the event can visit the event's Facebook Page, Laker Elementary Carnival, and send a private message. People can also contact Amber Bender directly, at Bender Realty.