A fair near the Roses parking lot will extend through Sunday, marking the first time Clinton has hosted such an event in years. A portion of the proceeds from the five-day event will benefit youth with dreams of becoming law enforcement officers.
The fair kicked off Wednesday and will operate through Sunday. It was originally set for May, but had to be pushed back.
Donna and Ed Inners, owners of Inners Shows, brought the show to town as part of a partnership with Martin County Sheriff’s Cpl. Joe Snider, who made the conditional use request to operate a special event in the area of Southeast Boulevard and Pugh Road. Felipe and Nelly Gutierrez signed the application as owners.
The fair is set up in a 20,400-square-foot space in the parking lot adjacent to Roses and the new Tropicana Supermarket. Normally Inners has more than 20 rides on hand. There are 16 in addition to concessions at the Clinton fair, which has a little less space than other venues.
“This is our first time in Clinton,” said Donna Inners.
The fair will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; fro, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday; 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 2-until Sunday. A $20 wristband gets unlimited rides for the day. Otherwise, it’s 20 tickets for $20 or 48 tickets for $40. Rides cost between 3-5 tickets. Cash is accepted and there will be ATMs on site.
Family-owned and operated, Inners Shows has been in operation since it was established in York, Pa., in 1909, with Ed’s grandfather starting the business. It is now based out of Franklinton, N.C., and is anticipated to soon be in the hands of Ed’s son Thomas, the fourth generation. They travel close to nine months out of the year, from the end of February to the first week of November, setting up shop at county fairs, festivals and various other events across the state and beyond on a continuous basis. Next week, they will be at the Watermelon Festival in Winterville, N.C.
A portion of the proceeds from the majority of their fairs — around 75 to 80 percent — benefit the Law Enforcement Explorers Program, a chartered organization through the Boy Scouts of America, and similar outreach by police departments, sheriff’s offices and fire departments, as well as through D.A.R.E. and Crimestoppers. The Inners and Snider have been partnering for years on such events.
“He’s very dedicated to law enforcement,” Inners said of Snider. “We love it. We know (the proceeds) are going somewhere good — to help kids who want to go into law enforcement.”
The Law Enforcement Explorers Program aims to build strong relationships between youth and law enforcement while exposing young explorers — ages 14 to 21 — to the law enforcement profession. Participants have described the bonding experience as a “rewarding and invaluable experience for the future of our community.”
Some of the proceeds will assist the Goldsboro Explorers post as well as Snider’s Martin County Law Enforcement Explorers Post 911. The funds will pay to send the students to next year’s national conference at prestigious Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
Snider said Inners events like the five-day stint in Clinton can act to fund Explorer programs, including firearms training, conferences and various activities, for the entire year.
While Clinton does not have a Law Enforcement Explorers program, the goal is to seek out a local organization for a donation, with the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts listed as potential beneficiaries. The site in Sampson County was chosen due to the population around here and the fact that — outside Clinton’s annual street fair — there are no county festivals or fairs that feature large rides.
Snider said there is no telling how large that donation could be, or how much may be raised through the event.
“We won’t know anything until we see how the crowds are,” said Snider, who noted tickets sales are also contingent on cooperation from Mother Nature, which can make or break an event if rides have to shut down for a day or two.
He touted the partnership with Inners, which has benefited a number of law enforcement agencies and their outreach over the years.
“All these organizations are constantly doing fundraisers, selling calendars, doing doughnut sales, yard sales, selling raffle tickets,” Snider began, “but you do one of these (fairs) and have a good week, it can be the only one you do all year. And a carnival can be fun for families, kids, everyone.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.