If Your School Doesn’t Have An Annual Carnival, Here Are 9 Reasons Why It Should

1. School Carnivals Are Incredibly Popular With Students and Parents Alike

Quick, which would you rather do- go to the school carnival or visit to the dentist? See? No contest. OK, maybe that’s not a fair fight, carnival vs. dentist, but the fact is, a school carnival is one of the absolute highlights of the year for any school that has one. It has all the best rolled up into one great package: people having fun, the school making money, and if it’s a really good carnival, there’s always food of some variety on a stick.

2. Carnivals require lots of people as volunteers, but the work is fun and not stressful.

Even though carnivals require a number of people willing to take charge of a wide range of responsibilities, the vast majority of jobs involve having fun and interacting with people. Whether it’s baking items to sell, running games, passing out prizes, decorating the carnival space, face painting, or even selling tickets, the atmosphere of a school carnival is light and enjoyable. These are exactly the kinds of jobs to break new volunteers in on. Once a person has mastered the art of the school carnival, he or she may be ready to take on more challenging volunteer duties within your fundraising team.

3. Carnival Expenses are Low

Since carnivals are held in the school building itself, there won’t be any facility rental fees the school will have to pay, which can often be one of the most expensive items in the budget. Also, food can be donated, and games can be used year after year. Many decorations can also be used more than one year. Of course, there will be a desire to add some new things each year, but the core of the activity can be relatively inexpensive to operate year in and year out.

4. Carnival Income is High

While expenses are kept low, the opportunities to generate revenue are high. Of course, you have the admission tickets, but there can also be charges for food, entertainment, games, and contests. All of these can be purchased with tickets or tokens, so that cash doesn’t have to be handled and potentially lost. Also, revenue can be made from renting out booths to local non-profits, so they can market themselves to the carnival attendees.

5. School Carnivals Become Instant Traditions and Reliable Income

In fundraising, you are always looking for something that will be a guaranteed success, year after year. It’s important to be able to count on a certain range of income. Therefore it is wise to develop activities that will become traditionally expected by your community. Carnivals are so popular, they become one of these traditions almost instantly. Imagine holding your first carnival one year, and then canceling it the next. That doesn’t seem very likely.

6. People are Familiar with the Concept of a School Carnival, so They Come Ready to Have a Good Time.

Even if your school hasn’t ever held a carnival before, most people have been to at least one sometime in their lives. Therefore, you’re not going to have to do a lot of explaining or convincing to get folks involved. This is one of the reasons why you could expect a very respectable turnout your very first year doing it. People are hesitant to try things that are unfamiliar to them. The good news is that most everybody not only knows what a school carnival is, but they also have good memories of it.

7. Carnivals Allow for Teachers and the Principal to Relax

Once you swing open the doors on the school carnival, a whole new feeling spreads over the school. Gone are the worries about tests and having a hallway passes. The joyous, euphoric, and electric atmosphere allows everyone, including teachers and the administrative staff to relax and enjoy the festivities. Having worked as a school principal, I always felt is was important to take every opportunity to have fun with the parents of my students, as well as my staff of teachers. It improved all our relationships and increased our ability to work together.

8. Carnivals Build Camaraderie with Both Kids and Adults.

Carnivals also have the ability to help parents get to know one another. I think that when parents of students get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere, friendships can be made. This is not only beneficial to them, but also to the school in that it seems to increase the number of volunteers we get for school activities. Even if you have a busy schedule, if your best friend is working the school carnival, you might also be inclined to do so, because it becomes a social opportunity.

9. Since So Many Schools Do Annual Carnivals, There is Abundant Information Available Regarding Carnival Themes, Games, Contests, Entertainment, Revenue Producers, etc.

With the exponential growth of the Internet, it is simple to find out extensive information on almost any subject- school carnivals, especially. A simple Google search will yield a wealth of knowledge. Also, it is wise to talk with families who are new to your district. Perhaps they have suggestions from their old school that worked. Trust me, if you put the word out there that you’re thinking of launching a school carnival, you’ll have people banging down your door with ideas.


Fundraising for any kind of a group is hard work. Often, the results are uncertain, but I can’t remember a time when I ever was ambivalent about how much money we were going to make. There’s always been an urgency to make as much as possible with every event or sale. With a carnival, you have just about the closest thing to a sure bet that you can find in this world of fundraising. As I mentioned in the introduction, a carnival mixes the best of everything, and everyone has a good time. In my estimation, that makes the idea of having a school carnival a real no-brainer.

Carnival Glass Bowls Costliest Items In It’s Category

Carnival glass bowls form part of the large carnival glass collectible items. These are produced by pressing the glass and coating it with an iridescent coating which gives it shiny look. This process is known as doping, hence this glass is also sometimes referred to as dope glass. This process was first adopted in the early 1900s and it lasted only till the mid to late thirties, and today is extinct.

The company Fenton was the first and largest, widely recognized carnival glass producer. Fenton initially began life as a company which decorated blank glass produced by other companies. In 1907 it started creating carnival glass. When production started, Fenton glassware was marketed as “Iridill” or “iridescent ware”. This was an instant hit and several other companies began producing and marketing their own carnival glass bowls.

In the late twenties, demand for their products began to wane. This was due to the decrease in sales during the Depression, and also in part to the saturation of the market by glass companies. To get rid of stock, companies began selling their wares at deeply discounted prices to carnivals, which the carnivals then used as prizes for their games. Several companies went out of business during this period.

Known as “carnival glass” by glass collectors, the popularity of carnival glass bowls surged in the 1950s. Originally used as carnival prizes, today reproductions are made by several companies. Fenton glass in particular is a prized collectible and the most frequently manufactured.

At present, auctions, antique shops, and online stores are the best places where one could get carnival glass at various prices. Fenton antique glass as well as other well-known carnival glass fetches high prices. Popular colors of these glasses are marigold, as well as dark hues like blue and green. However, carnival glass bowls in red or pastel color are the costliest item of this category. On a popular auction website, one rare ice-blue plate sold for $16,327.55!

For the newbie collectors, there are a lot of resources with plenty of information. A lot of web sites and books are out there for information on the many sizes and shapes these antiques are available.

13 Ideas to Make More Money at Your School Carnival

A school carnival is one of the best ways to raise money and build community spirit for your school. So many schools have yearly carnivals that it is easy to fall into a familiar pattern of repetition each year. The following suggestions are meant to help you shake your event up a little and to start thinking of new ways to increase your profits.


By selecting a different theme for your carnival each year, it both keeps your families interested and engaged, and also it forces your planning committee to develop new ideas for games, events, costumes, food choices, etc. The selection of a theme is the foundation for the rest of your carnival planning. It is vital to keep your auction from becoming predictable each year.


It is important to know what kind of people will be attending your carnival. This demographic knowledge will help you in deciding what kind of a theme to choose and what kind of activities will make you the most money. Basically, make sure you are giving your audience what they want. If karaoke is popular, give them a karaoke booth. If a football throwing competition would be popular, give them that. If you think silly string would be a big seller, have plenty of that on hand and mark it up.


The key to making a lot of money at your carnival is to have lots of people there. Make sure you have an excellent team in charge of getting the word out. First, utilize every method of free publicity: press release, road-side banners, lots of fliers in shops over town, church bulletins, etc. Also let your school families know how important attendance is and that their efforts in bringing others to the event is encouraged and appreciated. After you have exhausted these low or no cost means of advertising, perhaps you can consider a well-placed paid advertisement in the local paper or radio station. Only do this if you’ve had success in the past and can afford it. There are so many means of cheap marketing.


Once parents have arrived, they want to make sure their kids are safe to run around. This sense of security will go a long way toward making mom and dad comfortable and willing to spend more money. I know that if I’m constantly worried about where my kids are and what they are breaking, I’ll be looking at the clock and planning my exit strategy. I’m not going to drop a lot of dough. Make sure to have volunteers specifically assigned to the front doors to make sure no one escapes. I would also station a male and female adult by the bathrooms to make sure no trouble happens there. Try to imagine any place there could be trouble in your physical space and solve the problem before it happens.


One way to make money is to not spend it in the first place. Therefore, do everything in your power to get food and supplies donated. This process should happen very early in your planning. Seek out natural connections within your school community. Who knows, one of your sudent’s dad might own a company that rents out inflatable bounce houses and would be willing to rent them to you for free. You won’t know until you check. Make sure to give out a lot of recognition (both verbally and through prominent signage) to all those who helped, and make sure that a committee takes responsibility for sending out thank you letters to every single person or business that helped you during the carnival.


In addition to the rides, games, and scheduled entertainment at the carnival, there is an opportunity to provide parents and kids with another great experience: vendor booths. You can sell booth space ( can be as simple as 8′ folding tables) to local business who want to market to your specific audience. You can also require the vendors provide some kind of freebie or activity to whoever visits their booth. Pencils, Frisbees, coloring books, etc- and they can put their logo on everything they give away. They can pass out coupons as well. This is a great marketing opportunity for the business and it adds to the overall excitement of the event. If you get enough vendors, you can also make some decent money off of it. If you charge $100 per booth and get 12 booths, you just made $1,200 pure profit. And, $100 for such a great marketing opportunity is not out of reach for many local businesses. I have even heard of carnivals with booths set up for health and wellness information, including free flu shots, blood pressure screenings, for example. You can give price breaks on booths to non-profit groups, if you wish. The more booths = more excitement.


Take a cue from most arcades out there today, convert cash into tokens or tickets whenever possible. This accomplishes two important purposes. 1) It prevents individual booths from having to handle and secure cash. With all the excitement and activity, why take a risk on cash being lost, stolen, or mishandled in any way? 2) People are much more likely to spend tokens or tickets freely than real cash money. It’s a psychological thing.


Even though you may lose a few percentage points for the transaction, I recommend setting your carnival up to accept debit and credit cards for tickets and maybe some of the higher price add-ons you have. This way you avoid the situation of a parent running out of cash, even though they still want to make that last minute purchase. Don’t lose that sale!


In your planning, make sure that you include activities for everyone. For instance, you may get lots of younger siblings. It would be wise in this instance to set aside a safe area for them to crawl and play without having big kids risk accidentally hurting them. A few gym mats, some baby toys, a fence of some kind, and chairs for parents could be all that you need. Even if you offer this toddlers’ area for free, you are doing a service for parents who won’t have to spend money on babysitters or feel rushed to leave, due to their younger children. On the other hand, it would also be wise to provide lots of seating areas and coffee (decaf) for grandmas and grandpas. Make sure that nobody feels uncomfortable or un-catered to. The more people through your door, the more ticket revenue you pick up.


I am a strong believer in designating someone to serve as the overall host or emcee for the event. Give this guy or gal a wireless mic and let him or her use charm, humor, prodding, and enthusiasm to get people having a great time and spending money. Don’t settle for a bland voice telling people the talent show starts in five minutes. Get a person who will have the natural ability to hype it up. The emcee can also call attention to booths that aren’t doing well and need attention. Just make sure that the emcee doesn’t cross the line into being obnoxious. This can be a tall order, but if you get the right person, it can make a world of different to your event.


Basically, forget everything else I’ve written. It’s really just all about the food. People love to eat and they’ll spend money to do it. Offer as many choices and styles as you can think of. If people like to eat it and it’s convenient to mass produce and serve, do it! I really don’t think you can over-do it on the food.

This is an opportunity to really hype up a specific item. For instance, this could be the only time all year that third grade teacher Mrs. Riley makes her world-famous elephant ears. Your school carnival is the only place on Earth to get them. “Tell your friends and family! Don’t miss this once a year chance!”

(Remember to get as much of the food donated as you can, because it would then be 100% profit!)


Besides selling tickets for games and food, think about ways you can sell additional items. I know of carnivals who have successfully sold student designed t-shirts, school community recipe/cookbooks, family photos, and raffle tickets, to name a few. Also, look at the Oriental Trading Company Catalog for very inexpensive items that kids love to have. Silly string for instance is a great seller. You can even set up a little store for any of the above mentioned items. Don’t miss any opportunity to get people to spend their hard-earned dollars for your school.


Kids are always amazed to see their teachers in any situation out of the classroom. I remember thinking that my elementary school teachers actually lived at school. They couldn’t possibly have a life in the “real world”. To run into one of them at the grocery store was like running into a movie star or the President of the United States. You will be sure to have a hit activity anytime you can put a teacher in a funny situation. Think dunk tank or pie throwing, etc. Maybe the principal could get his head shaved if a certain level of money is raised that night.


The school carnival is a great opportunity for your community to come together, develop relationships, and raise some much needed money for your school. Be as creative as you can in selecting a popular theme and planning activities that will accomplish your fundraising goals. Good luck!