Step Right Up! 10 of our Favorite Carnivals across America
There's something about a carnival: even blocks away, you can hear the combined squeals and screams of people on the rides, and smell the sticky-sweet scent of candy-apples. And who doesn't want to try their hand at knocking over a few milk bottles to win a giant stuffed panda?
Travelling carnivals in America took off after the popularity Chicago World's Fair of 1893. Once the fair was over, companies formed to take similar animal acts, games of chance, sideshows and rides on the road. These days, you're likely to find a midway at huge state fairs, smaller county events or as a fundraiser in a school or church parking lot. Carnivals remain one of life's simple pleasures, so here are ten to check out when you're in the neighborhood.
This fair is over 150 years old, and features a fun and fascinating lineup of everything from giant vegetables to crafts to livestock. Shake the dust off with some crazy carnival attractions that spin, tilt, hurl and otherwise throw you around. But the candy apples and caramel corn awaiting you on the other end are your sweet reward. (September)
It's been a tradition since 1946 and a family favorite in that neck of the woods. Dunk tanks, bumper cars, a ferris wheel, rope ladder and more will keep you and the kids busy for hours. There's live music, a bake sale and all the hot dogs you can handle. Best of all, all the proceeds benefit the school for curriculum enrichment programs. (April)
Get your Jersey Shore on with this popular local fair. There are all kinds of rides for everyone from tots to adults, all enjoyed in the fresh ocean air. A reptile show, racing pigs and plenty of crafts and food make this a perfect way to spend a summer day "down the shore." (July)
Since it's inception back in 1930, it's become one of the top 40 fairs anywhere in the country. Not just for the numerous ways you can enjoy those berries (jams, pies, tarts - you name it): the carnival attractions, like the roller coaster and games of chance make it a huge draw. (March)
Since 1915, the fair has attracted people from all over the region - earning the name, "the biggest little fair in the state." Best of all, ten bucks gives you access to all the fun carnival rides, the stage and midway shows and exhibits. Good deal. (August)
Their carnival midway offers dozens of rides for the kids, and any kind of "carnie food" their little tummy desires: candy apples, cotton candy, you name it (and not a bit of it good for them, but hey, it's a carnival). Adults can have fun with the Demolition Derby, Horse Show, the Karaoke Contest and a ton more goofy stuff. (August)
Wild, spinning coasters, kiddie speedways, slides, a ferris wheel and silly games all make this midway one of the best parts of this fair. Homemade lemonade cools things down - and goes perfectly with classic carnival food like popcorn, funnel cakes and fresh corn dogs. Once you've carbo-loaded, step on up to the Arm Wrestling Tournament or Duct-Tape Fashion Show. (Aug-Sept).
It gets wet and wild at this fun family event on the water. On land, test yourself on the bumper cars, Tilt-A-Whirl or something called "the Zipper" (sounds scary). Chow down on hot dogs and soft-serve ice cream - then watch some pro outboard racers churn the waters over two days of "Thunder on the Neches." (April-May)
Located close to Vancouver, it's attracted crowds since its debut in 1868. Check out the cute baby Diaper Derby, tackle the Watermelon Eating Contest or throw up all that cotton candy after a terrifying ride on the "Drop Tower." There's also excellent live entertainment in the evening. (August)
A log flume and crazy funhouse are just a few of the classic carnie experiences you can enjoy at this great fair. They recently upped the ante with some seriously screamworthy rides that throw you around at heights of up to 80 feet. Once your stomach comes back to Earth, the Snackdown competition offers a twist on fair-food, like deep-fried pastrami pizza. (June-July)