How to Create a Summer Carnival

May 20, 2022

How to Create a Summer Carnival

Summer carnivals bring entertainment, games, and food together for one thing only - fun! The secret to creating a summer carnival is the perfect blend of location, great food, things to do, and ensuring attendees have a safe experience. Don’t be afraid to add your flair and culture to the classic extravaganza. J. Leigh Events shares the four golden-ticket must-haves for your summer event.


Selecting the right location is crucial to a successful summer funfair. The site needs to have enough open space for rides and vendors and plenty of parking, water access, and electricity. Ideally, you can host the carnival outdoors in a large parking lot or field. Don’t forget - it’s hot in the summer. So, if you want people to stay and enjoy themselves, plan “cool zone” areas with shade, tents, or water misters. Utilize barriers, gates, cones, and tapes to section off different event areas that flow naturally from vendor booths, food trucks, eating areas, rides, games, and outdoor restrooms. If you’re planning a family-friendly event where kids might be running around freely, keep the main activities away from busy roads or deep-wooded areas.

Carnival Venues in Charlotte, NC

A great location here in Charlotte, NC, is Camp North End. The sprawling campus offers large lots and buildings to create the carnival experience of your dreams.

Food and Beverage

carnival food charlotte nc

Photo by Clay Williams Photography, Bayhaven Carnival

The trend for events today is to bring variety and authenticity to the table for your ideal audience. Food-lovers might be searching for hot dogs, donuts, fried foods, and specialty bites suitable for the ultimate cheat day. Think “grease and sugar”! If you plan to have many families with children, stick to the classics - chicken fingers, pizza, funnel cakes, and french fries. Try selecting smoothie vendors or vegan food trucks if you’re having a carnival centered around health and wellness. Also, consider cultural cuisines to add some diversity to the take-out box.

Everyone needs access to cold water. For a fall or spring carnival, it’s okay to charge for bottled or cups of water. But, in the summertime, the quality of the event suffers when people run out of cash for water. The first beverage vendor on your list should involve a free water station. Or, you can fill up water spout coolers with ice and water that people can self-serve. If you’re serving alcoholic beverages, accessible water is more important than ever because alcohol dehydrates the body.

Carnival Food Vendors in Charlotte, NC

Here is a list of food trucks and vendors in Charlotte, NC:

summer carnival vendors charlotte nc

Photo by Clay Williams Photography, Bayhaven Carnival


When considering entertainment options, aim to please each age group and thrill level. Also, keep accessibility in mind so everyone who attends can win or experience something new. You can’t go wrong with carnival rides like Ferris wheels and funhouses. For family-friendly activities, consider balloon artists, face painters, and festival performers (like aerialists or stilt walkers). 

Attendees will likely want to take time off their feet to cool down and enjoy the summer day. Build a music garden with a band and tented area where people enjoy music while relaxing between all of the fun!

Carnival Entertainment in Charlotte, NC

Check out these entertainment and rental companies in Charlotte, NC:

Security and Safety Tips

The number one tip J. Leigh Events give our clients for events like carnivals and festivals is to have clear communication and walkthroughs with your fire marshall. The fire marshall is responsible for keeping everyone at the event safe in case of an emergency. The last thing you want is your event shutting down because you didn’t connect with the fire marshall. Also, ensure all licensing and permits are taken care of for your event - including rentals, rides, and vendors. Another tip is to hire third-party security if the location doesn’t provide on-site security. Purchase first aid kits and stash them at different locations across the space. If possible, contact a medic truck that can be available - better safe than sorry!

Planning a carnival in Charlotte, NC

If you’re looking for an event planner for a carnival in the Charlotte Metropolitan, contact J. Leigh Events today to book your date!

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