I heard that the Middlesex County Fair was happening now. Fairs and carnivals hold a special place in my heart…when I was a girl of just 18, I actually decided to join a carnival when it came through town. I performed many different jobs each spot, from the merry-go-round to the dime pitch game; from making funnel cakes (I would get so covered in sugar that bees would chase me all the way to the showers each night) to being “Serpentina, the Snake Lady!” I traveled throughout the Northeast, into Canada, and the Southwest, eventually settling into Texas for a few weeks before coming home to New Jersey. I even have a work ID that declares my job title that week as “popcorn.”
I have so many memories of tearing down the carnival, moving to a new place, setting up, and opening the show…watching families and young kids enjoying the rides. I always get reminded of the song “The Loadout” by Jackson Brown when I see a carnival setting up nearby. The experience of doing a different job every two to three weeks, handling snakes (despite being afraid of them!), meeting new people across the country…I’ve often felt that it actually prepared me for my adult career of working in radio!
So, if you’re going to the carnival this summer, or to the Middlesex County Fair…say hello to the people who are actually working the carnival. They’re enjoying being there and meeting you just as much as you are enjoying a fun outing with the family!