Former Organizer Plans to Continue Whaling City Festival This Summer
NEW BEDFORD — Minutes after news broke Tuesday morning of the New Bedford Police Union's decision to cancel the 2019 Family Fun Festival Carnival & Circus, also known as the Whaling City Festival, a former volunteer announced that he plans to keep the event running this year.
Michael Sylvia, an EMT for Brewster Ambulance Service and former organizer of the Whaling City Festival, says he is in the process of taking out and filing paperwork that transfers the responsibility of hosting this year's planned festival to him.
"It's something that I grew up with that I loved. To me, a festival like that, it's just for families," Sylvia told WBSM News. "It's a non-alcoholic festival. People can go there. A lot of the prices are cheap for things. It's just something that families can enjoy."
Sylvia says he is organizing a non-profit organization to revive the Whaling City Festival this summer, and already has about a dozen volunteers working with him to raise the tent poles, so to speak.
"I also love the logistics of putting something that big together and seeing people enjoying it," Sylvia said of the undertaking.
Sylvia began volunteering with the Whaling City Festival organizing committee in 1995 when he was 13 years old.
"I basically started as a volunteer picking up trash. I worked my way up the ladder."
Sylvia worked with longtime organizer Joe Eugenio before serving as vice president of the Whaling City Festival organizing committee headed up by Allen Richard in 2014.
"I have a very good understanding of the bare bones of the situation," said Sylvia. "And I already have started recruiting a staff that will be behind me to help me with whatever I need. I feel like this is something that will be great for the city and something I can do."
The event disappeared from the city for several years before the New Bedford Police Union announced plans to begin organizing the annual festival in 2014.
Sylvia says he has been in touch with vendors that had already signed onto this year's festival through the New Bedford Police Union, and is hoping to retain the majority of them. He is also in constant contact with Fiesta Shows, the company that provides the rides, games, and food that have become associated with the Whaling City Festival in years past.
If all goes according to Sylvia's plan, the Whaling City Festival will run as scheduled from July 11-14 at Buttonwood Park.