The smell of funnel cake, and the sounds of country music, loud rides, and laughter filled the normally empty grounds in front of the Massies Mill Ruritan Club last week as the Nelson community enjoyed the annual carnival.

The Massies Mill Ruritan Club hosts an annual carnival at the club at 5439 Patrick Henry Highway to raise money for an array of different groups in the county and state. This year, despite the on-and-off rain and the intense heat, residents flocked to the grounds eager to enjoy a number of rides, the food and nice summer evenings with friends and family June 25 through 29.

Alison Lawhorne, a long-time Nelson resident, said she has been coming to the fair for the past 30 years. Lawhorne brought her three children the first evening the carnival was open.

“I love seeing everyone,” Lawhorne said.

David Hight, treasurer for the Massies Mill Ruritan Club, said it’s common for residents who came to the fair as children to continue to bring their kids and grandkids to enjoy everything it has to offer.

Rebecca Ragland, a Schuyler resident, has been coming to the carnival for the last six years with her now 11-year-old daughter.

“She likes the rides and I come for the funnel cake,” Ragland said.

Hight said this year, the amount of attendees and money raised was on par with last year and, like last year, the money raised will go toward good causes in the community, including the Piney River Volunteer Fire Department.

“Our club was founded in 1951 and our first and foremost goal was to get the fire department started,” Hight said.

The Piney River Volunteer Fire Department purchased its first fire truck in 1954 with help from the ruritan club, and ever since the two groups have been helping each other. Hight said back then, there was only one fire department in Lovingston and due to the amount of time it took for the department to respond to calls in other areas, the community felt there was a need for additional fire and rescue squads.

This year, the Piney River Volunteer Fire Department raised $4,000 from parking donations alone and the ruritan club will give another $1,500 from the carnival money to the department. Hight said they always try to help the fire department, which is solely run by volunteers.

“There are a lot of dedicated volunteers on the fire department so everyone in the ruritan club tries to help them when we can,” Hight said.

As of Sunday, June 30, the total amount of money raised had yet to be confirmed, but Hight said $2,500 will be given out in scholarships, some of the money will go to upkeep and maintenance of the ruritan building, and some money will go to other groups in Nelson.

“The leftover food is given to the food pantry in Lovingston,” Hight said.

Other groups that benefit from the annual festivities include the Nelson County High School band, the county 4-H clubs, Future Farmers of America going to national competitions, and Hunters for the Hungry, a nonprofit in Virginia.

“What we make, we try to spend wisely,” Hight said.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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Erin Conway covers Nelson County for the News and Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County. Reach her at (434) 385-5524 or econway@newsadvance.com.

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