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Archive for Friday, August 7, 1992

TRAVELING CARNIVAL ENLISTS LOCAL HELP TO RUN RIDES AT COUNTY FAIR

August 7, 1992

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Some of them travel from town to town while others are just along for the local ride.

Several have dark tans from years of working all day in the sun.

"Every time, it's a little different out here," said Larry Hoopingarner, one of several carnival workers at the Douglas County Free Fair. "It's a good experience, really."

Hoopingarner made the remarks this week while watching other workers prepare rides and attractions at the carnival, which set up in the southeast part of the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.

He is one of about a half-dozen people who travel with Stanley Shows, the company that brings rides and other attractions to the fair's carnival.

STANLEY SHOWS travels most of the year to communities in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, Hoopingarner said.

A handful of company "regulars" travel with the show, while other people are hired from the local community to work at the carnival when it is in town. The company usually spends about a week at each location.

More than a dozen area residents have been hired to run rides, entice people to win prizes at game booths and other activities at the local fair.

Mark Stanley, owner of the company, said a group of employees set up rides this week at the Douglas County Free Fair after a stint in Great Bend.

"This is one of my favorite fairs," Stanley said. "I just like the fairgrounds here."

Stanley, originally from Williamstown, said his organization brought about 15 attractions to the Douglas County fair, including rides such as "The Spider," "The Zipper" and "The Typhoon."

It also has set up several booths where patrons can try their luck at games such as ball- or ring-toss to win stuffed animals and other prizes.

HOOPINGARNER, who worked in a tire shop in Sedan before joining Stanley Shows about 10 years ago, said he likes traveling.

"You get to go to different places and meet different people," he said. And he said the money's not bad.

"I'm making about twice as much" as in the tire shop, he said.

Some local residents who are working at the carnival said it offers them a temporary job.

"I just came down looking for a job," said Patty Frazier of Lawrence, who was working a booth in which patrons can try to toss plastic Wiffle balls into colored goblets.

"Come on grandma and grandpa, five balls for only dollar," she shouted as two people walked by the booth.

"It's a lot funner than working a regular job," Frazier said.

ELLEN SCOTT, Lawrence, who was setting up the ring-toss booth, said the best part about the job was meeting people.

"You get to meet more people" than in a regular job, she said. "For the most part, they're all pretty nice."

Scott said that carnival workers, whether temporary or not, support each other.

"We're all a team out here," she said. "We all pitch in and we all watch each other's back."

Hoopingarner said workers spend 1 to 3 hours setting up each ride.

He said the most difficult part is making sure the rides are level with the ground.

Workers place cinder blocks and wooden boards under the rides to stabilize them.

"You can't run 'em if they're not level," Hoopingarner said.

He said employees are trained on-the-spot in how to run the rides. Operators require no special license, he said.

"It's just like a regular job, you've got to train somebody to do it," he said.

Cost of some of the larger rides may be more than $75,000 used and more than $200,000 new, Hoopingarner said.

Stanley Shows buys one or two rides each year, he said.

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