May 26—It's a tradition that dates back decades in Andover — every May means Clown Town.
Last year was bit different, due to the pandemic, with the carnival taking place in the fall. But it was business as usual Friday and Saturday for the 66th iteration of the Andona Society's event.
For two days, hundreds of parents and children came to Clown Town, either to make new memories or relive old ones.
Zach Bergeron was at Clown Town with his daughter, son and mom.
"I think it is a great showing for the community and we like bringing the kids here and letting them run around," Bergeron said.
Diana Balekian has been going to Clown Town since she was in elementary school and was at the event with her son and daughter.
Balekian said what keeps her coming back are the rides, community and nostalgia.
Amy O'Halloran enjoyed the festivities with her daughter Nadine, 8, and son Cole, 6.
"It's one of my favorite fairs," said Nadine.
Nadine said she was looking forward to a ride called the Casino.
"It's like this big disk, you sit in there and it swirls you around," she said.
Cole said his favorite activity was the cork shooter.
"Its like where you shoot the corks and knock down the cups and then get a prize," he said.
The carnival is a fundraiser for the Andona Society.
Jen Sloan, Andona's clerk, said the organization was founded in 1952 with a focus on improving public health, such as providing eye checkups to schoolchildren.
"Over the years, their mission has been to continue to support local organizations, but we focus on youth," Sloan said. "All of our funds go to the schools of Andover or local youth organizations."
Sloan said earlier versions of Clown Town lacked the mechanical rides of today. Instead, carnivalgoers went on pony rides.
Last year, the carnival introduced a Ferris wheel, Sloan said. This year, the carnival added Dylan & Pete's frozen treats and a Tres Latinas food truck, Sloan said.
The food truck offered traditional Latin cuisine, such as arepas, which are a flatbread made of ground corn, water and salt, according to Andona.
Sloan said the Zipper is one of the most popular attractions. She described the Zipper as a very fast ride where you rise into the air in a cage and spin around.
For younger children, the train rides are especially popular, she said.
Sloan joined Andona in 2012 after previously receiving a college scholarship from the organization.
"A lot of people come full circle like that," she said,
Like many local residents, Sloan said she grew up with Clown Town and that it has been a part of Andover for a long time.
"You don't even have to advertise Clown Town, everybody just knows that in May, it's Clown Town time," she said.