WELCOME! JIM: SPEAK'S OUT
I just put this page up to express up my own opinions of the outdoor entertainment business. It will offend some and others will feel I am right in what I say. Some owners run their shows as a top notch business while others are just trying to take every cent out of the business and not give anything back.
When I go onto a lot I look at how the rides are kept up which includes rather all the lights are working. The rides are clean and painted. The workers have clean uniforms or are they wearing dirty clothes that anyone could wear. Another big thing I look for is personnel running the rides can they speak and understand the English language.
How about the workers? Take a look at what a lot of shows pay their help. They put these workers on a salary, lets say $295/week some give these workers free bed to sleep in. Others charge what they say are local rates to have a bed. While others don't furnish any place to stay. A few carnivals offer a convience store for the help. Some furnish a cook house where the help get a discount on meals while others don't give any discounts. Ad now comes the big thing, these workers work up to 14 hours per day and may get 2 hours off per day. On certain fairs that is a 7 day a week job which boils down to around $3.50 per hour which is half the federal minimum hourly wage. WHO WANTS TO WORK FOR THESE WAGES?
WHY WOULD AMERICAN'S WORK FOR LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE?
Some shows provide uniforms to the workers others charge the workers for them. On a few show, each day you turn in the uniforms to have them cleaned others you must clean your own. What time do you have each day to get to a laundry mat to clean them. At least a couple of carnivals has now made a traveling laundry mat that is open 24 hours a day for there help.
The first thing you look at at night is how well the shows are lit up? Do they have light towers? Are the midway dark? This alone can tell you if you are on a class show or one that really don't care. Light bulbs are cheap providing you have workers taking care of the rides. Cheap labor doesn't take pride or care of the equipment they work on.
Some owners think a person has to be cleaned shaved no long hair to make an impression on the public. I think at times this is over reaction. There are many people that has beards and long hair that are exceptable. I beleive in drug and alcohole policies. No one should be out there drunk or high, but on the other hand if they are off duty after the show closes, they do have a right to have a drink or two as long as they do not disturb others on the lot.
A little paint will make any ride look new. A show that does not have brand new rides can look good by just being freshly painted. I have scene rides that are over 50 years old look like they were just built. Paint makes a show.
My feeling on imported help for the show. I have no problem with hiring foreign workers that are legal as long as they speak english unless they work on the borders where another language is the local language like the Mexican border or Southern Florida even than they should know some english. When I walk up to a ride operator and they say NO SPEAK ENGLISH what are they doing running a ride where the public only speaks english. A few show owners told me they have to have this help or they would go out of business. I quarentee these owners do not have a top class show. If a show can not afford federal or state minimum wages they should be out of business. A carnival is not a farm operation when they play a fair and should pay full wages not farm wages.
This business needs to clean up the small shows that don't care. In the mean times all the states are starting to get tough on all shows and even going overboard on rules and regulations covering the industries. What I see in one state would never happen in another state.
This summer I noticed an American Flag flying over a scooter all faded and ragged. This should never have been flying. No flag would be better than seeing this. Where was the owner looking over his show? To make things worse the ride was being operated by legal hispanics who didn't care. As an American this is unexceptable.
I also have to blame some of the problems on the shows sponsors and fair boards. I've been to one fair many times in New York state who makes the carnival open at 11AM and stay open til midnight. This fair, the midway should never open until at least five o'clock but because they open early this is a big fair. This attitude would change if the fair or even the carnival had to pay the help minimum wage for the time wasted for setting around for 6 hours that don't make the carnival a dime. This fair even cost the carnival extra just to keep the generators going or pay the electrical company for the extra kilowatt hours being used.
Fairs want the carnival help to be neat and clean. Well what about putting in a shower room for this problem. Over the years alot of Fairs has put in showers on the grounds and if they do they cater to the cow barns etc. not for the carnival workers. There are many fairs that don't have showers and still have outhouses. It's time to change. And first a carnival should enforce showers on their contracts. Years ago when the Conklin Show first came to the BIG E it was mandatory for a shower to be installed for their workers.
Back when Conklin took over the BIG E carnival contract the ride operators all wore shirts a like and had to wave to bring in the riders. Over the years the waving has gone, a the look of the ride operators has disminshed. Now just another carnival operation with a big NAME.
One last thing today is housing for the workers. Some shows furnish places to sleep. On some shows it is just warehousing these workers in a semi-trailer others has class operations. Massacusetts has made it a law on what a bunk house will have. Because of this law EJ Dean of Fiesta Shows of Salisbury Mass has started making bunk houses up to code for Mass. It's about time the warehousing stops in all parts of the country and all parts of the outdoor amusement industry. But there are still shows where the ride help sleeps on the rides, on the ground or in the back of trucks.
This is just the start of my opinions.
ANOTHER OUTLOOK AT FAIRS:
A lot of carnivals and fairs add special attractions to help bring in more guest which is great. Now my peave is they have no seating or if they do there is not enough seating for these quest to stand up to an hour to watch these free ground acts. These owners and manager forget that these patrons want to enjoy these shows as they are paying to see the. Acts that I am talking about is circus variety acts; alligator, bear, and horse acts,: thrill acts, demonstrations. All these needs seating and not just 50 seats but at times a few hundred seats. I went to one fair in Northern Maine and they had 3 different type acts in one location that was out behind a barn where no one could see them and each one may have had seating for 50 people. A State Fair had the stage right in front of a row of Potta Johns so you could watch patrons going to the toliet while the show was on. This was real class for a State Fair. A few fairs has come up with No-Smoking on the grounds. So they put up small Kios Tents so the patrons can smoke and relax. The only problem they never put in benches or chairs so they could smoke. In one tent the carnival put in a couple of benches which was picnic tables) so their employees could sit while taking a break. This was Fiesta Show who put in the tables. All 5 other smoking tents on the lot had nothing as the fair management didn't think they needed anything for these quest.
A lot needs to be done on many lots that don't cost big bucks but the ones that are not looking into making the guest at home are just milking the public for their money. No wonder amusement parks are going strong as they cater to the public.
One big thing in my book is the carnivals that buy used rides and equipment from different shows and auctions. When they get their new rides, benches and trucks they do not take off the names they bought the stuff from and replace the show name with their name. Look at the benches around the lot to see if I am right or not. Not every show does it but a lot does. Some of the names you still see is Pughs, United, RAS, Amusements of Bufallo and a lot more.
TRUCK & TRAILER REGISTRATIONS
Just about every lot that I go on I can find a Maine License Plate on a game trailer that has not been registered in years. Either there is no sticker on the plate, an out dated sticker, no sticker or even the corner of the plate bent over so you don't see the sticker. In NY at the Chemung Fair in Horseheads I even saw a straight job box truck with out dated Maine Motor Home Plates on it. This truck had no windows or doors in it but registered as a motor home. Far cry from being legal.
I have spoke to a few workers or owners and the biggest line is the sticker is in the truck or motor home and they forgot to put it on even when they are a couple of years out dated. One guy told me the truth that it wasn't license as he bought it in Maine and did not have a tittle for the trailer so it wasn't registered as PA needed a tittle. At least he was honest. One show in PA had all their joints with outdated plates. Another owner I mentioned it to had the plate off the trailer before I could walk around the lot.
The only thing I don't like is, I am from Maine, I see a lot of lost revenue that Maine is loosing and I have to make up the difference in taxes. I know most of these trailers has never been or will be in Maine but they still should be licensed for the $25 to $50 each year.
It is about time the DOT should crack down in the different states on unregistered vehicles that move only at night. Oh, by the way I even see them at Maine Fairs.