By JAMES BELL
For the first carnival in the area this year, Moore's Greater Shows will return to Big Creek Crossing, 2918 Vine this weekend.
They plan to open Thursday and will be open every night through Sunday.
"We're excited to have them," said Branson Hoffman, Big Creek Crossing marketing director. "We called them early spring, and we love having them. This will be our third year having them here."
He said they would have been in Hays last year, but like most other events, the carnival did not operate during most of 2020 as COVID-19 intervened.
As life is returning to normal, Hoffman said the word of the upcoming carnival has spread, and there has been substantial interest from the community.
"We've been getting calls and messages for them," Hoffman said. "So I know people are getting excited."
While the carnival will be an opportunity for area families to enjoy something missing from the last year, he said events like these help operations at the shopping center as well.
"The events that I help coordinate and put on - and a lot of times host myself without going through a third party - is a huge part of what we try to do," Hoffman said. "Just the event side of things is a very important focus that we try to lean upon when planning year to year.
"We focus on retail and clothing and the fun atmosphere to come, but we can do more. So when we have these events it's just a big deal for us."
He said while the shopping center was able to host some of the planned events over the last year, they were subdued with the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.
"It wasn't quite normal," he said. "You could feel that."
Moore's Greater Shows was also impacted significantly over the last year and is still feeling the effects.
"It's been crazy," said Ricky Moore Jr. "But we are glad to be back open."
He said he understood the precautionary measures needed to keep people safe and worked as much as possible to navigate the changing guidance put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
But the impact from the pandemic has continued into the year, Moore said. The Hays carnival will only be their sixth event of the year when typically they would have had around 18 events by this time.
"We are trying to get everything going and get back to normality," Moore said. "It's unfortunate we have all been shut down for so long, but we are just trying to get back open and move on."
The carnival is set to open Thursday and run from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. For opening night, $25 armbands will be available.
They will be open Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. with $30 armbands available each night.