Smart Start Rowan Summer Carnival

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2022

By Susan Shinn Turner

For Smart Start Rowan

SALISBURY — You could almost hear the sounds of the calliope at a Summer Carnival on June 4.

More than 100 children, parents, and grandparents attended the event, sponsored by Smart Start Rowan and held in the parking lot of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

“The family carnival was so much fun!” said Amy Brown, the organization’s executive director. “We really enjoyed collaborating with community partners to provide an enjoyable event for families, with lots of games, snacks, and resources. Many thanks to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College for providing such a wonderful space as well.”

“We wanted to produce a fun family event to welcome summer,” said Sarah Paynter, outreach and development specialist. “Each agency had a game for the children to play, and RCCC made snow cones. Boomer, the mascot from the Cannonballers, was there for photos and interacted with families. He made snow cones, too!”

This was the first Smart Start Rowan event for Jarissa Mendez and her family, son James Rodriguez, 4, and husband Jimmy Rodriguez. They live in Salisbury but James is a student at McKnight Head Start, near his mom’s work.

“We’re always looking for fun things to do in the community,” Mendez said. “What parent doesn’t want a free event for their child? Our experience was awesome. My child did not want to leave. He said, ‘Mommy, I want to do this again!’”

She added, “Everyone was so warm and welcoming. It was fabulous. Every year they have the carnival, we’ll be there.”

Barb Meidel is RCCC’s director of student life and leadership. This is her first year on the Smart Start Rowan board.

“It was an amazing event,” Meidel said of the carnival. “It was great to see vendors participate for free, and we welcomed whole families — extended families.”

A former board member who’s an RCCC colleague asked her to join the board.

“It made perfect sense,” Meidel said. “I love what we do to build a better community. It starts with one person at a time and one family at a time.”

Other participating community partners included Rowan County Public Library, which brought the bookmobile, a big hit; Families First; Salisbury Police Department, which brought its ice cream truck, another big hit; First Bank; Kepro; Communities in Schools of Rowan County; Cannon Pharmacy; and Cabarrus Rowan Community Health Centers, Inc.

Along with playing games and enjoying snacks, each child received a Clifford the Big Red Dog book.

Smart Start Rowan is a non-profit organization that serves children throughout Rowan County ages birth to 5. For more information, visit

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