How is it that David Stockburger, a man living in the 21st century, is the creator of Avenue Vineyard Community Church’s annual Penny Carnival?

“Many years ago, as a kid, my school would put on a penny carnival for Halloween,” he said. “It was the best thing when you’re eight or nine years old, the games and getting candy. I always remembered that fondly.”

Run by 40 volunteers from the church and community groups, the carnival is celebrating its tenth anniversary on April 22.

This will be the 10th year that neighbourhood families come out and enjoy some good old fashion fun. | Supplied

Wayne Thomas, pastor of the Avenue Vineyard, recalls the early planning stages of the first year. “We were brainstorming, we wanted to do a community event, and we came up with this idea. There are many young families with lots of kids in our church, and this was a way to get kids and parents and grandparents interacting.”

The concept is simple: various games stations are set up around Alberta Avenue Hall, and it’s all-you-can-play for a $0.50 admission. Participants can also buy goods from a concession featuring Battista’s calzones, baked goods, and drinks.

Stockburger pays respect to his childhood memories with prizes at each game, usually purchased on sale and stashed away during the year by his wife, Esther. “There’s lots of candy and a few small things like bouncy balls and stickers.”

Each player gets a “passport”, stamped at every station, and if you get as many stamps as your age, you get a bigger prize.

In the first year of the carnival, they borrowed games from the City of Edmonton, but Stockburger has been researching and constructing his own games over the years.


“I would look them up on websites and got lots of ideas from there, or I’d come across oddball materials and get an idea for a game. I found big magnets that look like gorillas, so I put two on opposite sides and try to fight over bananas.”

With a bit of know-how gleaned from growing up building things with his father, and later, being a homeowner, the church now has its own inventory of games, all made on a modest budget. The best ones, he said, are sometimes the simplest ones.


“I think a lot of people appreciate that it’s simple. We have a basketball shootout game with an electronic scoreboard, but that’s as high-tech as it gets. Giant tic-tac-toe, or catch a fish with a magnet.”

Thomas, who usually runs one of the stations, said adults tend to have as much fun as the kids, and it’s that accessibility that gives the Penny Carnival its wide appeal.

“You didn’t have to be the best or biggest, you just tried, and most games are simple enough for everyone to understand. When I did it as kid, you always got a prize. It was a fun thing; you could do great or not great and it was still fun.”


Header image: Many of the games are homemade. | Supplied


April 22, 1:30-4 pm

Alberta Avenue Community League (9210 118 Ave)

Admission: $0.50