News

Source: Stacy Gill – ZackeryToday

Zachary’s five-day ZFest begins

Lowery Carnival Co., Inc. stays very busy. The carnival and amusement ride corporation is packing up this morning after a successful Oyster Festival in Amite this past weekend, and heading to Zachary for the five-day ZFest which begins Wednesday, March 24 and lasts until Sunday, March 28.
Lowery, know nation wide, is a fourth-generation family-owned and operated business that has been providing quality family-fun since the early 1960’s.

Carroll (Bill) and Carolyn Lowery both grew up in the carnival business. While still in his teens, Bill began working for Carolyn’s father. The two were married in 1960 and were blessed with three children, Anthony (Tony), Carroll, Jr. (Willie) and Jacqueline. All three children continue to work and take an active role in the family business.

The Lowerys have eight grandchildren: Jarred, Justin, Jonas, Jaden, Brittany, Brooke, Ethan and Leah. All of them travel with the family carnival each summer. The Lowerys firmly believe that the family who works together and prays together, stays together.

“Patron safety is the main focus of our daily operations,” say the Lowerys, “and we are extremely proud of our extensive ride safety program.”

Employees and personnel are well trained and certified, inspecting rides on a daily basis and attending safety training programs. Lowery Carnival takes pride in their exceptional safety record. General managers are required to test each ride for performance according to rigid standards.

Certification and documentation of ultra sound and x-ray tests are on file with Briem & Associates, Inc., in St. Louis, Missouri. Lowery Carnival also has their own in-house N.O.R.S.O. inspectors licenses with the State of Louisiana. During the off-season, all rides are serviced and evaluated at their winter quarters maintenance facility in Louisiana.

Lowery Carnival Company follows strict compliance with all licensing regulations required by federal and state laws. They are required by law to carry midway liability insurance. Most states won’t issue a permit without proof of adequate insurance coverage. Lowery Carnival’s liability coverage exceeds the minimum state requirements.

Lowery Carnival Company schedules events in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

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Source: By Matt O’Brien – Contra Costa Times

The census is supposed to count every American, even itinerant carnival folk, but good luck finding Marla Obrentz while she is fixing up the Drag-a-Fish booth.

The fake fishing pond, which looks like a moat, is her pride and joy and the source of her income. She devotes hours to furnishing the game with prizes meant to entice young customers. The 44-year-old says she will pay no attention, however, to the census questionnaires that millions of Americans — most of them stationary, settled Americans — are filling out this month.

“I’m a lost soul. I haven’t been on the records for 14 years,” said Obrentz, who lives in a closet-sized RV cabin that lands in a new town each week. “I think we’re all pretty much lost souls here.”

Carnival and circus workers have populated the American landscape at least since President George Washington visited the nation’s first circus in 1793. Census workers have been counting the nation’s people every decade since 1790. So for at least 200 years, they have faced the special challenge of trying to keep track of a fluctuating population of nomadic entertainers.

Obrentz uprooted herself from mainstream society at 16 when she ran away from her San Jose home over Easter weekend. Back when the labor rules were not so strictly enforced, she would sleep peacefully beneath the carnival rides. Decades later, she still waxes romantic about life on the road but also considers herself a professional.

“It’s just like a regular job, except we move,” she said. “You build everything, decorate it, move it.”

The toughest part of carnival work happens on the first day in a new town, when the brute strength of a caravan of workers transforms a parking lot or an empty field into a wonderland in a matter of hours. The second toughest is the end, when the wonderland reverts to a parking lot in the middle of the night.

At the Butler Amusements carnival that stopped in Antioch’s Somersville Towne Center this week, at least half of the ride jockeys — the workers who set up, operate and take down the rides — hail from Tlapacoyan, a town in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz. None of them are sure if they, too, should be counted in the census.

One of them, Clemente Pena, 46, has been working eight years for Butler Amusements, which claims to be the biggest carnival company in the Western United States.

“Some people like sports,” he said in Spanish. “I like to travel, so that’s why I joined the carnival. I get to know a lot of places, a lot of people.”

Pena talks as he crouches beneath a long trailer parked at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds that is home for him a dozen other Mexican men.

There are two stoves in the hollow beneath the trailer, and he is using one of them to cook a sopa de coditos, a soup filled with pasta and vegetables he bought at a Mexican market in downtown Antioch. Night is falling, and frogs croaking in a nearby creek, as other men set up chairs and a television. Mexico’s soccer team is about to play North Korea, beating them 2-1. It is also St. Patrick’s Day, and many of the other carnival workers — the native-born ones, who call themselves carnies — have gone out to drink at local bars.

The bunks in the trailer above Pena are stacked vertically — three beds one on top of the other — though not all are occupied. To explain how he copes with such a cramped lifestyle, Pena recites a proverb: “Todo cabe en un jarrito sabiéndolo acomodar.” Everything can fit in a little jar if you know how to accommodate it.

“You have to have an adventurous spirit,” he said. “After eight years, you adapt.”

When his wife died in an accident eight years ago, the grieving widower was looking for an escape. He applied to be a temporary seasonal worker in the United States, obtaining an H-2B visa that allows him to work for the carnival from February through October. At the end of the season, he goes back home to Veracruz, visiting the son he left in the care of his mother. When they talk on the phone, there are sometimes awkward pauses halting conversation between the boy, now 12, and his dad. The son wants his dad home, but respects what the father is doing for the family, Pena said.

Walking through a Target store in Antioch this week, Pena saw volunteers talking in Spanish to local Latinos about the importance of the 2010 census. They approached him, but he thought it did not concern him. Census officials say it does matter.

“If they are tourists, they’re passing through” and are not counted, said Sonny Le, spokesman for the Census Bureau. “But if they’re working here, however temporary, they’re using services. Even the circus, it uses up the municipal sewer system, the water system, electricity. That’s the rationale.”

Le said the agency has a plan for counting carnival workers and others who spend their time moving from one place to another. If there is no residence where they live and sleep most of the time, they are counted “where they live and sleep more than anywhere else,” census documents say. If there is no such place, they should be counted as living wherever they are on April 1, the official day of the census.

“It’s a constitutional mandate,” Le said. “The requirement is we need to count everyone. I understand that carnivals and circuses kind of seem trivial, but we cannot leave anybody out.”

Census workers will descend later this month upon dozens of encampments, RV parks, bridges and benches looking for people who live outside or in tents and other mobile lodging. In California, the priority will be on the state’s tens of thousands of homeless people, not a few hundred carnival workers, but everyone matters in determining the state’s true population, Le said.

“We’ve got our own little city, our own little traveling city on wheels,” said Laddy Buck, 21, who joined the carnival when he lost a job at a Quiznos in Stockton. “I don’t worry about mail or anything like that.”

Fellow carnival worker Marilyn Souza said she will probably be counted where her daughter lives, in Turlock, where unemployment has reached above 14 percent. The 50-year-old Souza joined the carnival once her children were grown, and she will stick to the road this year until she raises enough money to fix her 1980 Chevy Silverado.

Unlike the Mexican guest workers, who are guaranteed a salary through the rules of the guest worker program, Souza’s income depends on the popularity of her games. A rainy day is a lost day.

“I work on commission, so the hurry-up-and-wait is just free time,” she said. “If I work for 25 percent, bring in $1,000, $250 is mine. The more we make, the more we make.”

Robby Cotter, 38, joined a carnival in Oregon when he was 16, getting the job by telling the boss he was two years older. He has been on the road ever since and passes time by lifting weights. When there is no gym around, or it is too expensive, he makes do with lifting the carnival equipment.

“I used to be in a lot of trouble, in jail a lot. My parents died when I was young,” he said. “This job has given me a purpose. It’s hard work, but it’s an OK life.”

As far as he knows, he has never been counted in the census as an adult, and he has no intention of ever participating. In the future, he said, there will be earthquakes and great catastrophe, Jesus Christ will return to Earth and the census will be irrelevant.

“I’m not too into the world. It’s a big lie,” he said. “I don’t believe in the system. It’s a big show, a big facade.”

Speaking of which, he has a job to do, he said, returning to the parking lot to put up a ride called the Orient Express.

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Source:By MIKE WINTER | The Tampa Tribune

We all know what Feb. 14 means. Yes, it’s National Ferris Wheel Day.

That special date was set aside in order to celebrate all things large and rotating every year. Is there any occasion more opportune for couples to reaffirm their passion for and commitment to each other? Nothing gets a woman’s heart beating faster than being stuck 200 feet in the air during a windstorm while a grease-covered carny scratches his head over the housing of a smoking motor. That’s what lifelong memories are made of.

If there were any justice, National Ferris Wheel Day would have Feb. 14 all to itself instead of having to share the spotlight with the memory of a nefarious Depression-era gun battle between warring gangsters. The powers that be should have called the bloodbath The National Ferris Wheel Day Massacre, which would have been logical. Instead, we have to live with The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, as if a holiday dedicated to love and romance could ever end in ruin.

I’m not suggesting there aren’t challenges in keeping Valentine’s Day a bloodless occasion, but by following a few simple rules, most men can keep most women from chasing them through the streets with tommy guns.

First and foremost, remember on what day the holiday falls. This should be easy since, as mentioned above, it shares the same spot on the calendar as its more famous cousin, and who would ever forget National Ferris Wheel Day?

Second, it’s all about making her feel special. You may want to spend the day drinking beer and watching the Winter Olympics on the high-definition Jumbotron at your favorite sports pub, but it’s unlikely dragging your significant other with you will qualify as a date, even if you do arrange the buffalo wings into the shape of a heart and tenderly explain to her why curling is a real sport and not just a bunch of janitors goofing off.

It’s important to start the day off right. Consider making your love breakfast in bed. But a few words of warning: The simpler the better. Most women would rather have cereal, a glass of orange juice and a clean kitchen than eggs Benedict, a homemade fruit smoothie and a splatter of atomized banana drying across the ceiling.

Or you could write your love a poem expressing your feelings. Don’t, however, confuse “poem” with “limerick.” Comparing any part of her with Nantucket is a sure way to get all your clothes thrown out on the front lawn.

Avoid buying her cheap chocolates, supermarket flowers or lingerie. Nothing says “I really don’t know you at all” better than receiving a French maid’s getup from Frederick’s of Hollywood when what she was expecting was a nightie from Victoria’s Secret.

Finally, if you happen to read this column late in the day and are only now realizing what day it is, you can always fall back on the defense of last resort: Sweep her off her feet and give her a foot massage. For reasons that will forever remain a mystery, women love having their feet rubbed. An hour should suffice, but it may take longer depending on how angry she is. You can even watch the Olympics while you’re massaging, provided the sound is turned down and you’re reciting Shakespearean love sonnets.

It may seem like a strange way to celebrate National Ferris Wheel Day, but at least we can avoid getting massacred.

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Source: By Vianna Davila – Express-News

At every great carnival, one can surely find cotton candy, giant stuffed animal prizes — and thrill-seekers, high atop every spinning, whirling ride.

Tavi Holmes is one of them. For as long as he can remember, he’s been coming to the carnival at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo looking for the rides that make him feel like he’s flying.

“I’m a hyper dude, and it’s an adrenaline rush,” said Holmes as he stepped off the Freak Out, a ride where a crane lifts and swings seats in the air as passengers squeal. “I just feel free.”

There are just shy of 50 rides at the rodeo carnival, said Gary Denton, assistant manager for Wade Shows Inc., which puts on the carnival. And the so-called thrill rides are always a significant draw for people looking for that extra-special rush, he said.

“They like to live on the edge, see how far they can go,” Denton said.

In the Walsh family, the thrill-seeker is William, 10, who was gearing up Friday afternoon to ride the Super Shot: Passengers sit in chairs arranged on a center pole; the seats lift slowly, and then plummet before coming to a sudden stop just above the ground.

“He’s our rider,” said his father, Bob Walsh. “He rides ’em all.”

Walsh called to his younger son, Patrick. “You should go ride it!”

Patrick, 8, shook his head and smiled. “It looks freaky,” he said. “I’m not willing to lose my life on a ride.”

There are three types of carnival rides, said Red Cox, general manager of Wade Shows. The kiddie rides, like the carousel and minicoasters, are for small children. The intermediate ones, such as the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Sizzler, can suit both children and adults.

Then there are the major rides — “something that excites you when you get on,” Cox said — the up-in-the-air, whooosh rides.

For Frederick Douglas, his favorite thrill ride was the Power, a 132-foot-tall yellow crane with a set of seats at each end.

“I’m addicted to it right now,” said Douglas, who had just gotten off work at the AT&T Center, where he converts the flooring for different events. He found it difficult to describe how riding the Power felt, though he expressed it later in a series of whoops and hollers as he went for his fifth — yes, fifth — ride.

“It’s a rush,” said operator Teddy Bear Feldmann. “Being 130 feet in the air is just awesome.”

But plenty of visitors come not for the thrill but for the memories.

The Tilt-a-Whirl is still one of the top 10 rides, though it’s considered intermediate and was originally popular in the 1940s or ’50s, Denton said.

Mothers and fathers want to ride with their children on the rides like the carousel, Denton said, “because when they were young, their mothers and fathers put them in the carousel.”

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Source:The Afton Fair Blog

The Afton Fair board is very happy to announce that Gillette Shows will return to the Afton Fair in 2010. Representatives of the Fair Board met with Betty and her sons Jerry and Jules at the 122nd New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs last week in Rochester, New York.

In order to fit into the schedule it was necessary to change the dates of the fair, which will now be held from Wednesday, July 21 – Sunday, July 25.

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