Vern Tripses of Lone Tree never thought of running away with the carnival as a child – he toured every summer with one owned by parents David and Bonnie Tripses.
The family tradition survives as Vern and wife Veronica continue to tour the state with Next Generations Show, formerly D&B Shows. Going along are their children, Jessica, 19; Chase, 11; and Jordyn, 6 months.
This was the second year for setting their carnival up at TrekFest in Riverside, splitting their rides and games between there and a celebration in Clarence. For the bigger fairs, Tripses said, they use all their games and 15 rides.
One of the longest-running carnivals in Iowa at approximately 30 years, it has become a tradition for more than just the Tripses family. Communities across the state have been hosting the carnival for decades at such towns as What Cheer, Winterset and Ft. Madison. They hit between 18 and 20 festivals and fairs during the warmer months.
Since taking over the family carnival, Vern said, he has added a half dozen rides and is still not done.
It takes about 12 to 15 people about a dozen hours to set up. Most of his employees, he said, are from the Lone Tree area – extended family and friends. Some of them are students looking for summer employment.
“They’d rather be doing that than detasseling,” he smiles.
During the off-season Vern’s parents kept busy with other jobs. Dave worked in the heating/air conditioning business. Bonnie returned to Kmart in Iowa City where she worked the front desk.
Vern spends his off-season catching up on carnival equipment maintenance and works with a friend on construction. As for his kids, they always have material when their teachers ask them what they did over summer vacation.
Tripses says the carnival remains in the state, which means the family can be home in the middle of the weeks.
Vern admitted the economy has affected his business. But at least, he added, the cost of fuel has gone down since last year for his three semi-trucks, four pickups and a couple flatbeds.
Another large cost for carnivals is liability insurance because of the rides. All of the rides, he noted, are inspected weekly by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.
Weather, also, can play a big part in a successful year. Rain can literally put a damper on outside festivals.
Vern said he is prompted to travel the state every year by the same motivation as that of his father. “I love to see the smiles on the kids’ faces,” he stated.