Traveling a way of life
Carnival workers enjoy seeing country
Dennis Gonzalez got hooked on living the life of a carnival worker 30 years ago, the year he became a teenager.
With a deeply tanned face, the electrician with Brown’s Amusements Carnival spent Thursday afternoon smoking a cigarette and telling workers how to put new lights onto a sign that advertises one of the carnival’s wildest rides: the Zipper.
“It’s not like in the old days, like we’re all a bunch of gypsies,” Gonzalez said. “To me it’s fun. I like to travel to different places and meet people.”
Carnival workers at the Moffat County Fairgrounds spent Thursday assembling rides and readying game and food booths. Brightly colored tents and amusement rides have marked Craig’s Grand Olde West Days for years.
For “Gator,” settling down in a different town every weekend is a return to a former way of life.
Gator, a Louisiana native who doesn’t go by his real first name and wouldn’t give his last name, worked for the same traveling carnival seven years ago. He recently was hired by the company and is excited about the chance to move across the country with the group. But, this time around, he has a 2-year-old daughter. Gator said he worked out a deal with his boss to take a week off every month to return home to visit his daughter.
“You get to see a lot of cities for yourself, instead of just having people tell you about them,” he said.
Brown’s Amusement, out of Mesa, Ariz., will spend the next few weeks in Colorado and Wyoming, Gonzalez said. After Craig, the carnival will travel to Avon, Delta, Grand Junction, then into Wyoming. Work starts with a carnival in the company’s hometown of Mesa for a New Year’s celebration, Gonzalez said. A regular season runs from about February to November, he said.
Setting up and tearing down the carnival is tedious work, but some workers said they didn’t much mind the hassle. Gonzalez said workers have been known to disassemble the carnival through the early morning hours.
“I’ve watched the sun come up a lot,” he said.
Arturo Corsen has worked with the company for two weeks. The man who has 17 nieces and nephews said he enjoys watching the throngs of children who come to jump on a large inflatable playpen he runs called Bounce.
Corsen is from Los Angeles, but he was hired by the company in Phoenix.
“I don’t care where they go,” Corsen said of working for the traveling company. “I enjoy it.”
Gonzalez said workers generally eat together and sleep in trailers that they bring with them. Some workers travel with their families.
He said it’s more fun to work with children who are excited to be at a carnival than working with adults. And long hours can get tiresome, too, he said.
“After a while you get a little grumpy,” Gonzalez said. “You try to keep a smile on your face as you go to bed. Then you wake up and do it all over again.”
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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