The Seward County 5-State Fair is in full swing today. The carnival started Tuesday evening and runs through Sunday.
The Pride of Texas Carnival has been part of the 5-State Fair since 1971. The carnival opens at 6 p.m. and runs through 11 p.m. today, Thursday and Sunday. The carnival will be open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
The carnival has 21 rides, including the zipper and the ferris wheel. Setting up the carnival rides usually takes two days, ride supervisor and safety coordinator Tim Harris said. This year however, the carnival pushed to set up in a day and half. The carnival rides were at Garden City through Sunday night then had a quick turnaround for Tuesday’s local opening, Harris said.
Ride admissions are paid through $1 tickets or carnival goers may buy a $20 bracelet for an unlimited number of rides. Most rides require more than one ticket.
Pride of Texas owner Doug Barton feels the bracelets are a better deal than the tickets. On average the cost for a person to ride all rides one time is around $65.
Since the 1970s, Barton has offered the $20-unlimited-ride bracelet on any night in hopes to get more patrons into the carnival. He has had this promotion for several years. This year though, his carnival sales have been significantly reduced.
“I have been down 20 percent across the board this year,” Barton said.
Barton’s sales are down not only because of the economy but also because of the weather.
“I need to get paid for rain,” said Barton.
Barton said he likes to have fun with one the carnivals promotional slogans.
“Instead of ‘Fun-maker since 1965,’ sometimes, I say, ‘rainmaker since 1965,’” said Barton.
People may also play games or have food, like cotton candy, corn dogs and funnel cakes. The corn dogs are kosher and all beef. The funnel cakes are made from the carnival’s own mix which they have perfected over that last 25 years, said Barton. The funnel cakes sell for $6 for 8-inch funnel cake.
Barton also said that the games are not games of chance but of skill.
Barton said that the carnival can be inspected up to 36 times per year by inspecting agencies. Barton said that the carnival is unlike some negative perceptions.
“All my life, (I’ve been) trying to out live this third rate citizenship,” said Barton of the preception cheap carnies. “It is not my grandfather’s carnival.”
Barton explained that like a lot of businesses, he does background checks, training videos and certifications of employee. He said he has policies on hair cuts, shaving and uniforms and his staff enforces that policy. Barton said that is not only a business to him but a business that requires dedication.
“We eat, breath, live this life,” said Barton.