For the 26th year, the Wilton Rotary Club is bringing their gift of family fun in the form of rides, games and more to town with this weekend’s Rotary Carnival, at the corner of School Rd. and Rte. 7 (Danbury Rd.). In addition to this being a traditional community event and good, family-friendly entertainment, the carnival is also a show of community cooperation.

“The town has supported us for 26 years, and we’re part of the community we try to support,” says Pat Russo, the Rotarian who has overseen the carnival for the last six or seven years. “The money is going right back into the community.”

It’s all done with the rides that thrill, and there’s something for every age. Rotary works with Tufano Amusements, one of the two main carnival companies in CT.

“We have as many rides as we can fit on the property. We’d love to have more rides, but there’s only so much room and we try to fill it with rides and games,” Russo says.

For the first time, Marly’s Bar and Bistro is overseeing the food concession at the carnival, serving many of their favorites. It follows in the tradition of the Rotary asking local restaurants to take part, says Russo, who adds it’s one more way for Rotary to support the local community. Marly’s will be there during all open hours of the carnival.

In addition, the Rotary members themselves staff the ticket booth all weekend, as they’re responsible for all the cash and proceeds for the weekend. The carnival is the largest fundraiser for the Rotary Club each year, supporting the bulk of their philanthropic efforts, both in the community and internationally.

The majority of the money Rotary raises stays in the community, they say, with local organizations. Among the many they support (along with some matching funds from the regional Rotary foundation) are:  Wilton Commons Senior Housing, WHS scholarships, International Youth Exchange program, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, 3rd Grade Student Dictionary Program, Wilton Social Services Food Pantry/Fund Assistance, Wilton Library Youth Book Program, Wilton Council, WHS Debate Club/Rotary Interact Club, Trackside Teen Center, Norwalk Shelter, Visiting Nurses & Hospice, Wilton Playshop, Wilton Police and Fire Departments’ Appreciation Awards, Wilton Senior Citizen Fire Protection Program (smoke detector installation), Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Wilton CERT, Chamber of Commerce 5K Run, Kick for Nick, Ambler Farm, and Woodcock Nature Center, among others. And that’s just local; there are several others outside of their local area that Wilton Rotary helps.

The carnival hours this weekend are:  Friday, Sept 18, 6-10 p.m. (possibly 11 p.m.); Saturday, Sept. 19, noon-10 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 20, noon-5 p.m.. Wristbands for unlimited rides cost $25 each, and tickets can also be purchased separately.