There is always excitement in the air when a carnival comes to town. Even before it arrives, the magic begins.
When I was a child, I lived in Decatur, Georgia, not far from Atlanta, home of the Lakewood Fairgrounds that was established in 1916. Each fall, we would travel to my uncle’s house and sit on the porch that sat on a hilly spot and look down at the carnival workmen assembling the rides. To a small child it was like watching a Christmas tree go up. And opening night was about as good as Christmas, except that instead of presents we got cotton candy and candied apples and popcorn, and sweet drinks – enough to make us sick. Back in those days, parents knew what went into their kid’s stomachs. In my house, stealing a cookie was a sin and breaking into the frig to get a coke was harder than breaking into Fort Knox. So our parents let us eat carnival food to our heart’s content , and hoped we would learn a lesson. We never did.
On opening night, lights twinkled in our wide-eyes, parents shielded those eyes from the hoochie coochie girls on stage hawking men to come in, and we were allowed to view some of the tamer shows that exhibited bearded women and alligator boys. We were also allowed to spend all our allowances on arcade games, because our parents thought we would learn a lesson. We never did.
The smells and sounds were always intoxicating. The Ferris wheel took us to the top of the world and the Merry-Go-Round made knights out of little boys while little girls became princesses. The Ferris wheel actually remained on the property until 1967. It was old, it was real wood, and it was a beauty.
It was sad when the carnival left. The magic that blew in on the wind was suddenly gone. We were all broke and bloated but we had our Kewpie dolls and our stuffed animals to remind us that we hadn’t been dreaming.
I still feel excitement when the carnival comes to town and sadness when it leaves. Of course, the carnivals are not as large, and they are tamer. But still, the lights, sounds, and smells make one feel like a kid again.
Though I posted a few photos while the carnival was in town, here are a few more you might enjoy. There is a lot that goes into putting up those rides, and they really do it right. The management at Sherwood Amusements is always accommodating. They even gave me a free ride to the top of the world. Oh, and I enjoyed talking to the crew. What wonderful stories they had to tell.
The "boys" took a few minutes to pose for me.
They also let me hitch a ride on one of the horses to get a photo for the paper.
Everyone enjoyed the fruits of the crew's labors.
Thanks to all the vendors who chatted with me and let me take their photos.
Until next year!