Carnival may spark Newberry fireworks code change

Lighted ferris wheel against night sky
Lighted ferris wheel against night sky
Zayne C via Shutterstock

A Newberry pasture property owner who hosted a Sister Hazel concert in October plans to host a three-day carnival and two days of concerts on the weekend of Aug. 20-21.

Speaking to the Newberry Commission on Monday evening, event organizer Eric Lenasbunt of Vivid Sky Vertical, LLC presented his application to hold the outdoor concert and carnival on the property of Pat Post, owner of Southern Fuelwood, Inc. The 216-area pasture is located on the west side of Newberry on Newberry Road and has been the spot for a recent concert and farm equipment auction.

Lenasbunt described the event as a fair without the animals and it will have a midway area for food vendors and 12 to 15 carnival rides including a ferris wheel plus a concert area where alcohol sales will be permitted.

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At the 6 p.m. Planning and Zoning Board meeting, Lenasbunt presented his event and got approval. The same happened at the 7 p.m. Newberry Commission meeting, when all four commissioners present minus Tim Marden, who was out sick, according to Mayor Jordan Marlowe.

When the commission addressed the applicant, they had questions about the fireworks because the event was adjacent to neighbors with cattle.

“Can you catch cows?” Commissioner Ricky Coleman, who owns nearby cattle, asked Lenasbunt. “You ain’t scared to get out there and help us, right? Right there next is a bunch of our cows. And you’re going to be shooting fireworks off.”

Commissioner Mark Clarke agreed fireworks could cause some unrest with local residents who have cattle or horses and told the applicant he would need to, “Let people in the area know there is going to be fireworks,” because they, “Could be a hazard.”

Commissioner Tony Mazon asked that the applicant make sure the carnival ride company had up-to-date equipment to avoid any mechanical problems and to have a safe experience for carnival goers.

And before the resolution went to a vote, Commissioner Monty Farnsworth joked, “I’d feel much better about this if it was a rock n’ roll band instead of country.”

Lenasbunt said an Orlando-based pyrotechnics company will present a 10-minute fireworks show on Saturday night during the event.

Mayor Marlowe then recollected that Newberry code does not allow for fireworks in the city.

“Is the commission voting to approve the fireworks and bring back a possible code change?” Marlowe asked the planning department, which recommended approval of the event.

Newberry principal planner Wendy Kinser-Maxwell said the planning department was going to address that issue with the commission in an upcoming meeting.

“If you approve the special use, it’s assumed that they will be doing fireworks,” Kinser-Maxwell said.

City attorney Scott Walker then presented city ordinance language regarding fireworks that he said was “discontiguous.”

Walker noted that the commission needs to work on the fireworks issue and read from three different ordinances. “In general, 38-7 says fireworks are prohibited everywhere in the city as of 1999. [Code] 38-97 permits fireworks for public display, and 62-34 permits the city manager to permit fireworks in public parks as well.

“We need an overall look at the fireworks and to have a permitting process,” Walker said.

In regards to the fireworks for the upcoming carnival, Walker said agreement from the commission is all the organizer would need for approval. 

Commissioner Farnsworth made a motion to approve the application for a special permit for temporary use and Commissioner Mazon seconded that motion.

The commission voted unanimously, 4-0, to approve the event.

“We look forward to attending a carnival,” Marlowe said. 

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