The Carnival: A Retrospectacle!

Once again, I am afraid that I may have grown up.  The carnival is in town again this week, and all it has to offer to me is deep fried delicious and lemon shake-ups.  High school is a fading memory, and college is…still being paid for.  Despite this, I still have vivid memories of being stamped or banded every year for an all-access pass to the Linton Freedom Festival carnival.

Now, I am not one to believe anything my brain tells me, but I am rather certain that the carnival used to be larger.  One summer in my memories, it even stretched to the pool and beyond.  I may have been born a few decades too late to have the true carnival experience that you can only read about today.
Thanks to Google Books, I have been able to peer a little into the history of our carnival.  Decades ago, before it became the magazine for the music industry, Billboard magazine was used for bill postings for carnivals, circuses, fairs, vaudevilles, and other things we no longer get to enjoy.  I will share some of the more interesting finds in the dozens of search results I looked through.

To start, in June 1946, Rogers Greater Shows was looking for parties of at least three attractive girls for a girl show.  I was rather taken aback when I learned this; I had never suspected that we once had girly shows.  I have corroborated this with other people, and it is true.  It must be some taboo secret that we are not allowed to talk about, because for the dozens of years I have been able to comprehend an idea like this, nobody has told me.  I wonder what else has happened in this quiet little town that we may have forgotten.

Move forward five years forward and Baker United Shows, touting themselves as “A Clean Modern Midway,€ has no indication of wanting to hire any parties of girls.  It is all right because Baker United Shows was looking for monkeys for “Indiana’s largest 4th celebration.€  Oh, the hijinks they probably got into!

August 1953 gives us a small article on Baker United’s previous Linton Carnival.  Their line-up included 12 rides, 4 shows, and upwards of 65 concessions.  I did not get an exact count of what we had this year, but eyeball estimates make me think we are still behind compared to this 50-year old show.

I believe the article also mentioned some administrative changes at Baker United Shows.  It must have been big enough to tarnish their “clean midway”, because in June 1958 Baker United post an ad: “GIRLS WANTED For Girls Show at once.  No experience necessary.  Good salary, wardrobe and living quarters furnished.  Wire or come on.€

Feel free to check out all of the other ads for the Linton carnival in Billboard.  They have lists of concessions, rides, games, and shows that we may have had in the past.

One comment

  1. I was never much into rides when I was a kid, but the Dragon Wagon made for some good memories! I found the food offerings to be slightly disappointing this year. Whatever happened to chicken on a stick guy?

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