What’s been a construction site for the past three years became an area full of music, arts and crafts, food and family fun. The Burlington Carousel Festival was held May 6 and 7 at City Park. The festival has not been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the carousel house undergoing construction and renovations. The carousel did not operate at the festival in 2019 because construction had already begun.

The Dentzel carousel is the main attraction at City Park, and the more than 100-year-old landmark sits inside a newly built carousel house. The park is also home to other permanent attractions, like miniature trains, planes, cars and boats. Hundreds of people attended this year’s event including 10-year-old Karter Leslie. He said he rode the carousel before when he was younger, but this was his favorite time riding.

“I got to ride the tiger, and it started spinning and playing music,” Leslie said.

Taylor Harrington was brought on to help create a live mural for the festival. She’s based in Raleigh and works as a chalk artist around the state. She painted a carousel horse, a flying pig and a train, which are all popular attractions at City Park. She started the project when the festival began Saturday and said it took her about nine hours to complete.

“It's so much fun to do something really big, because people can just stand and walk around it and look at it at all angles,” Harrington said. 

The event was also full of volunteers like Sofia Soto. She goes to Southern Alamance High School and said she loves watching people have fun.

“I love seeing a community bond,” Soto said. “I have a really close community at my school and we do events like this. So coming out and seeing people from my school, and then the community as a whole, really warms my heart.”

City of Burlington Special Events Supervisor Sean Echeverria said he spent most of the festival making sure the event ran smoothly. He said he’s happy the festival returned because it brought a sense of community to the city.

“I think you see folks from all walks of life here all interacting all in one big melting pot,” Echevarria said. “I think that we need things like this so you have that sense of community. The carousel means a lot to the people of Burlington and Alamance County. For us to be able to celebrate that all in one weekend and have all this amazing stuff going on, it's just fabulous.”

The attractions were all free to attendees this weekend, but the carousel is open now for the spring and summer. A ride costs $1.50 and it’s open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.