Festival where girl died on carnival ride canceled after 41 years

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A Cumberland County festival that’s been a community staple for the past four decades — and where a young girl was killed after falling from a carnival ride — won’t be held this fall.

Deerfield Harvest Festival officials announced Saturday the long-running festival, usually held over the span of a few days in October, would not be held this year.

In a statement released on Facebook, organizers said the decision was made after a discussion among volunteers and others associated with the 41-year-old festival.

“The Deerfield Township Recreation Committee has decided that the Deerfield Township Harvest Festival will not be held in 2020,” festival officials said in a statement. “They reported this decision to the Township Committee, who agreed with the decision of the Recreation Committee.”

Festival organizers thanked the visitors, volunteers, vendors, and first responders who typically help out with the event, although they made no mention of the fatal accident that occurred there last fall. When asked for additional comments by NJ Advance Media, Festival Publicity Chairman Tony Stanzione said they wouldn’t say anything beyond what was released in their statement.

The announcement comes months after 10-year-old Hailey McMullen, a fifth-grade Deerfield Elementary School student, died from injuries she sustained after being ejected from the “Xtreme” ride, also known as a “The Super Sizzler.” The amusement ride spins riders around as they are restrained by a lap bar while rotating.

The accident is still being investigated by the Department of Community Affairs. McMullen’s parents indicated they planned to file a lawsuit against the ride operator and manufacturer, according to court documents filed in November to preserve evidence in the case. The Super Sizzler is manufactured by Colorado-based Wisdom Rides and was operated by Skelley’s Amusements

The festival, known for the music acts, amusement park rides, craft displays, and other attractions may not be canceled for good. The committee said there would be discussions held later this year to see if the long-standing event would be revived.

Chris Franklin can be reached at cfranklin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews or on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.

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