There’s an unmistakable feeling of excitement when the carnival comes to town. It might be that lose-your-stomach thrill of the tilt-a-whirl or the press-your-luck game of dart throwing. Maybe it’s the excitement as the sounds and lights of the joy rides beckon through the night.
Maybe it’s just the smell of funnel cakes.
Whatever it is, the carnival is in town, and the people in Macon County are rediscovering their childhood, no matter what their age, as they head over to Highlands Road and stop by for some fun. They’re called “marks” as they make their way down the midways, the walkways that get you from your favorite trip on the Ferris wheel to one last stop at corn dog heaven. Along the way they are heckled and beckoned to come and “win a prize, win a prize, win a prize.” Somehow it’s hard to resist that temptation of leaving a carnival without a six-foot stuffed snake, an oversized basketball or that giant teddy bear in tow. It’s part of the game.
Adding to the fun is the mystery of the carnie – the workers who come and go with the carnival, carrying their wares, calling to the crowd and often imagined as the rough and tumble set parents warn their children about. But like most stereotypes, it’s a little overblown, and at Dominick and Ruby Macaroni’s show, you aren’t likely to stumble into trouble. “It’s just life here. The only thing that is different is you travel. Everybody has a job. Everyone has a responsibility. We get up every day and go to work,” Ruby said. She sits under the awning behind the motor home she and her husband travel in while her grand daughter chases fire flies in the night. Her husband, Dominick, was raised at the carnival. It was the family business he grew up in, and now his family runs the show. “We all do what we got to do,” Ruby said.
They bought the Family Attractions carnival in 1996, and, even before they bought it, this carnival had been a mainstay in Franklin for as long as she has known.