Source: Tracy Frank – INFORUM

Games Galore of Fargo has signed an extended contract with Oklahoma-based Murphy Brothers Carnival to provide inflatable games at carnivals throughout the United States.

This is a big opportunity for the Fargo company, which opened in 2006, said owner Dave Lerud.

“It’s a huge contract for Games Galore because it gives us the chance to work with thousands of people with Murphy Brothers Carnivals,” Lerud said.

Games Galore will have a presence at state fairs in Oklahoma, New Mexico and North Dakota, as well as at county fairs in Arkansas and Minnesota.

This is the second year Murphy Brothers Carnival and Games Galore will be at the Red River Valley Fair, which is July 9-17 in West Fargo.

Bryan Schulz, Red River Valley Fair general manager, said fairgoers reacted positively to having inflatable rides at the fair.

“There are kids who don’t enjoy going on the rides that go around in circles and up and down, and this way gives some of the smaller ones the opportunity to bounce around and slide in a very safe atmosphere,” Schulz said.

Last year, Games Galore worked with Murphy Brothers on a trial basis, Lerud said.

Jerry Murphy, Murphy Brothers Carnival president, said reactions were very positive.

“It adds a lot of action for the younger children at the fair,” Murphy said. “When you go to a fair, the more exciting rides, or fun foods, or different things, it’s all about an experience.”

The rides Games Galore offers at the carnivals include an obstacle course, a water slide that is 22 feet high and 60 feet long, and a play area designed for children ages 2 to 6.

“Take the water slide on a 90-degree day in Arkansas, there’s going to be a line of 75 kids the whole time,” Lerud said, adding that the obstacle course and bounce houses are also very popular.

Hal Terrell of Fargo, a Games Galore employee, takes the games to the carnivals, and Games Galore hires locally to watch the games, Lerud said.

Corey Heiser, Games Galore managing partner, coordinates lining up labor for the carnivals.

Games Galore has two new locations this year and expects to keep growing with Murphy Brothers, Lerud said.

“Murphy Brothers is adding more sites all the time,” he said.

Games Galore buys its games from professional manufacturers the company connects with through the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo.

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Source: John Nickerson – Stamford Advocate

Carrying 6-by-6-inch blocks of wood in the searing sun while setting up the Grecian Festival on Newfield Avenue, Robby Roberts wasn’t about to let the heat get him down.

Just a year into his gypsy-like odyssey as a carnival employee — “Carny” is a fightin’ word except amongst and between the brother and sisterhood — the happily driven Long Island native was for the first time on his own erecting the 65-foot Landslide ride on the property of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

With sweat coming off his brow, Roberts, 33, remembered the carnival saying when things looked tough.

“Rain, sleet, hail, snow we still have to set up the Dreamland show,” he said with a smile.

The day before, Roberts with 22 other Dreamland Amusement employees had just made the “jump” from a carnival on Patchouge, Long Island that ended at 5 p.m. on Monday, Memorial Day.

After bringing their semitrailers hauling 14 rides along with seven or eight fifth-wheel camping trailers to the Newfield Avenue church, they rested on Tuesday, said Bob DeStefano, who technically is the Dreamland consultant, but everybody knows him as boss.

DeStefano, between rides to the hardware or auto parts store for needed maintenance items, had just two days to get the show up for its Thursday 5 p.m. opening.

DeStefano, 49, another Long Island native, did not seem too worried on that Wednesday morning about his rapidly closing deadline, which he has faced over the past 20 years.

From New Hampshire to North Carolina, he puts on about 45 shows a year from late March through October, he said.

He says living on the road is fine. The travel trailers have electricity, water and kitchens.

“When we get out of bed, we are already at our workplace,” he said.

Making their life place to place with each other is fine with him.

“The world should be more like a carnival. If you work, you fit in. It doesn’t matter what your sexual preference is, race, color or creed. Everybody who joins the carnival and works becomes like family,” he said.

All around the parking lot, men were moving equipment, setting up the rides like the Gondola Wheel, car ride, Space Saucer and kiddie swing. All were sweating.

DeStefano said Roberts was the cheerleader of the group and if there were 22 more of him he would sleep better at night.

Up on the top of the hill next to the church and Newfield Avenue, Roberts was just about finished putting the wooden blocks under the jacks holding his gargantuan ride steady for the shrieking kids who would be taking their big slide down the tallest ride of the show.

As he talked about being able to make $20 per day “draws” from their upcoming Wednesday night paycheck on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, he played the Landslide like a violin.

A lot of people, he said, want to work a carnival when it’s all set up and the lights are flashing and people are having fun. It is glitzy, even glamorous, he said.

“But when it comes to the tear down, we lose a lot of people,” he said.

Reaching up beyond where a man of his 5-foot, 4-inch frame ought to, Roberts pushed the green button igniting the hydraulic motor, and the Landslide began to rise.

After running around the ride installing pins and locking the tower into place, he looked up and smiled.

“That is the first time I have ever done that, baby,” he yelled to a few of the crew assembled around the rig.

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Source: STEPHANIE JONES – The Journal Times

When Ronald Kedrowicz was 1, his parents bought a giant octopus ride.

The next year they bought a trolley train and a kiddy Ferris wheel.

By the time Kedrowicz, who goes by “Chip,” was 7, his family had enough rides that they started their own traveling carnival.

That was the start of Rainbow Valley Rides Inc., which is in Racine this week and which Kedrowicz, now 43, has traveled with every summer for his entire life, along with his family. Now his own wife and kids and his brother’s family have also joined the summer tour, which starts in May and runs through Labor Day.

The family lives in the Stevens Point area most of the year. Then throughout the summer the Kedrowicz family and approximately 45 workers travel all around the state for church festivals, carnivals and fairs. They set up their rides, food stands and games, and they have a new home for a week.

A child’s playground

Growing up traveling every summer to new cities was a new adventure, Kedrowicz, now president of Rainbow Valley Rides, said. His friends always thought of it as his own playground for the summer.

In each new town, there were new kids for him to play with and new places to see, which he explored with his siblings.

Being the bosses’ son also “came with some perks,” he said, like free rides and free caramel apples and snow cones.

Life as the boss

Now, more than 40 years after his parents bought their octopus ride, the excitement of the carnival business is still there

“Out here I can write a book,” Kedrowicz said. “There is always something going on.”

There is the occasional Russian barbeque courtesy of some of the workers who come over for the summer from overseas, he said. There is also the weather. When there is a tornado in the area, “you are just praying, because if you lose your show you are out of business.”

A family business

The excitement is not the only perk, so is the time spent with family, Kedrowicz said.

Behind Boston Store in Regency Mall, Kedrowicz’s mother was in the carnival’s office sitting working at her desk, and his brother, Joe, stood smiling at his 6-month-old daughter in his arms. His two sisters no longer tour with the carnival in the summer, but they help out sometimes, he said.

Kedrowicz’s four children, ages 13 to 10, are in school right now, and his mother-in-law is taking care of them.

Being on tour without the kids is hard this month, said Kedrowicz’s wife, Teri, who was working in the cotton candy stand Sunday. But as soon as they get out. they join the carnival and they all move into the family’s summer home – a 45-foot RV.

Home away from home

The RV looks like a normal home inside. There is bread on the counter, a towel hanging from the stove, a table set with four placemats and a few dog toys on the floor for the family’s two dogs.

When everyone is there, two of the kids sleep in twin beds in a back room, two sleep on a pull-out in the living room and Kedrowicz and his wife sleep in the master bedroom in the front of the trailer.

Next door are the RVs for Kedrowicz’s brother and his wife, and his parents’ RV. They all love traveling together and seeing each other, but don’t want to imagine everybody living in the same RV.

“We love each other, but not that much,” said his mother, Lorraine, 70.

In the 40 years since Kedrowicz’s parents bought that first octopus, the ride is no longer with the carnival. But Kedrowicz cannot imagine doing anything else with his summers.

“I don’t know any other life. I’ve never been home in the summer,” Kedrowicz said. “It gets in your blood.”

He still has many more years in the carnival business, and he said when his kids grow up, the option to join the business will be there. But he is not pushing them. “It’s up to them,” he said.

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Source:Margaret Caldwell – The Desert Valley Times

Today I’ll write about my past — when I was really, really young. Our family had finally left the farm and moved to the small town of Ashley, Minnesota. My mother was trying to sell books by Billy Sunday and my father was not settled on what he would do. In fact, he was spending most of his time at my older sister’s house complaining and regretting his sale of the farm.

I was left in the care of my sister Abby who was supposedly going to high school, but there was no school during the summer so Abby took me down past the lumber mill where a traveling company had set up a merry-go-round and other booths.

My eyes bugged out at the sight of the gaily-colored ring of animals moving up and down. Abby left me there mesmerized. I don’t know where she went. Probably to see more of the booths.

I was about five years old.

I stood, probably with my finger in my mouth, until I felt a touch on my head and a kind voice said, “Would you like to ride?”

Before I could move the man motioned for the wheel to stop and then he put me up on a wooden horse and motioned for the wheel and the music to start again.

I was in heaven.

Think – the year was about 1912. What I’m telling you is true. The man who paid for my merry-go-round joy was a good-natured old gentleman who owned a lumberyard. He had seen my sister leave and wanted to make sure I was not abandoned.

Those days life was simple. People were kind. I remember it all and I thank God for the ability to bring the scene back to mind.

Today, a man would not dare to come near a child. He would be afraid he would be arrested for assault or attempted kidnapping.

I hate having to compare the simple past with what is happening today. I am not one of the old people who live in the past, but I understand why some do not want to see reality as it is today.

I’m sure Abby returned, because I got home to live the long life God has granted me.

Blessed be!

Margaret Caldwell, in her 104th year, is the world’s oldest newspaper columnist.

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Source: By Chris Kaltenbach – The Baltimore Sun

Traveling carnivals take their midway rides on the road, delighting the kid in everyone

Karen Weber has spent some 15 years helping to run the spring carnival at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Essex. She knows what brings in the crowds — and it isn’t the food, or the goldfish toss, or even the chance to hang out with good friends while helping raise money for church and school.

Nah, what brings ’em in are the rides: the Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds and other mechanical contraptions that lift you up and spin you around, defying gravity and turning the whole world happily upside-down.

“They’re the draw-er,” she says, inventing a word appropriate to the occasion as she helps get things ready for the annual event, set this year for the weekend of April 30. “Everybody comes by, and they see the bright lights and the rides going on — it’s the first thing they want to do.”

Nothing says vacation and summer sunshine and take-it-easy better than carnivals and the rides they bring to town with them. In Baltimore, the unofficial start of the 2010 carnival season may be the annual Spring Fair at the Johns Hopkins University, which takes over the Homewood campus beginning today. Almost every weekend, straight through to Labor Day and beyond, there’ll be a carnival of some kind set up somewhere — on mall parking lots, alongside volunteer fire departments, near churches and schools. It’s like Ocean City’s boardwalk moving into the neighborhood for a few days.

“It’s very self-satisfying, that we’re in a business where the idea is to supply enjoyment to youngsters of all ages,” says Tom Gaylin, president of Rosedale Attractions and Shows, one of a handful of local businesses that spend their weekends hopping from one site to another, transforming parking lots and grassy fields into carnival midways. Last weekend, they were in Essex; Thursday, they began a 10-day stint at Colgate Park (North Point Boulevard and Baltimore Street) for the annual Colgate Carnival.

“Carnivals only come to the neighborhood one time a year,” adds Terrie Shaw, whose Severn-based Shaw & Sons is providing the rides for this weekend’s Spring Fair at Hopkins. “They’re something the kids really look forward to. That’s where the glamour is in this business, watching the kids have a good time.”

Adults get a kick out of things, too, says Brenda Davis of Annapolis-based Jolly Shows, which will be running a carnival in the parking lot of Security Square Mall from May 5-16. “It’s something they can do with the kids on the weekend, and they don’t have to go all the way to Kings Dominion or Six Flags. They can come and spend a couple of hours, and it’s not that expensive.”

For many, the carnival is a magical place, but for people like Gaylin, Shaw and Davis, it’s also a job, one that takes a lot of time and requires a good bit of muscle. Amusement companies usually spend between eight and 12 hours of hard labor setting up their carnival midways. Rosedale, which works 30 to 35 carnivals a year within a 150-mile radius of Baltimore, has some 30 rides in its collection, which it transports from place to place using 100 trucks. Shaw, which handles about 30 carnivals a year, owns 35 rides, including such crowd-pleasers as the senses-rattling Zipper, Rok N Roll and Gravitron.

After the kids have ridden themselves silly and Mom and Dad have picked up the pieces, after the parking lots are once again a place for cars and the grassy fields are waiting to be mowed, carnival operators are busy moving on to another town. “It’s really not a job, and it’s really not an occupation,” says Gaylin, whose family has been in the business since 1928. “It’s more a way of life than anything else.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Seeing people’s faces light up as they decide which ride to try next, listening to the festive music play as the bright lights shine and the delighted screams cascade down — there are worse ways to make a living.

“That’s the best part of it all,” says Davis, “watching the kids laugh and have fun.”

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