Too close, too loud and stinky: residents petition against carnival

May 2, 2023

On a recent weeknight, bright lights flashed and loud music thumped through the thin row of trees that separate the Fiesta Shows Carnival being held in Dartmouth Mall’s parking lot from Normand Street.

That was too close to the neighborhood, residents said in a petition to the select board, which complained of the lights and noise generated from the carnival.

“Bass literally rattl[ed] houses,” the petition reads.

Neighbors also complained that they hadn’t been notified of the location change from the front of the mall, the carnival’s location in previous years, to the rear, which is close to their homes.

Once the rides started, neighbors said, the smell of fumes coming from generators spread throughout the neighborhood.

Dartmouth officials have responded to some of the concerns. Since the carnival started on April 27, the town asked that some of the generators be moved away from the homes, with exhausts pointed away, music has been turned off and some of the louder rides will shut down earlier.

Concerning the generator fumes, Fiesta Shows President, Eugene Dean said, “In operating 50 plus events each year it’s not a complaint that we’ve gotten from an exhaust aspect.” He added that wind direction and speed could affect the impact on neighbors.

“In every event that we [produce] we’re always on somebody else's land, sometimes we're in locations that are even…closer than what we are there in Dartmouth,” said Dean. “We’re always understanding and want to be as cooperative a neighbor as we humanly can be, just because it’s better for everybody.”

The petition signed by the affected residents, states that they are “not opposed to the carnival taking place at the mall, [but rather] its location.”

In previous years the carnival was located in the parking lot near the Aldi grocery store. This year the event was moved to an area behind Macy's, a location more removed from businesses but significantly closer to homes.

The new location “is better for safety and traffic,” said Beth Zager, Senior Marketing Director of Dartmouth Mall, in a statement. “The carnival is operating in accordance with the noise ordinance, shutting down noise at 9 p.m. As always, the Dartmouth Mall has worked with local authorities to maximize the experience for the community.”

Deven Franco, who organized the petition, said that no one notified her neighborhood about the carnival's proximity to their homes.

“No one thought of us, and it hurts. We’re taxpayers, we deserve to be notified,” said Franco.

The town is aware of the issue, Town Administrator Shawn MacInness said. “We take these complaints seriously.’’

Next year, he said, the town will work with the carnival operators to ensure “lots of notification.’’

The proper permits were obtained, he said, but Fiesta officials were “kind of down to the wire’’ in securing them. Going forward, the town will institute an “even more stringent process’’ to ensure increased communication.

The carnival is scheduled to run through May 7. The Select Board will discuss the carnival situation at their May 8 meeting.