Michigan Fairgrounds: 1890s-1970s
Every summer, the Legion Hall in our small town would bring in a carnival...usually, it would take the carnies 24 hour to put everything up: games, side shows, rides, tents, and concession stands. After it's last day – Saturday – we would come back to look around and the whole thing was gone. As if a tornado came and lifted everything off the ground and whisked it all away.
There were always a couple of girls you knew from school who came and flirted with the ride operators. They would end up “dating” utnil the end of the week when the carnival moved on. Like clockwork, without fail, this happened EVERY summer. |
And the rides we looked forward to:
Loop-O-Plane, Rock-O-Plane, Roll-O-Plane, Tilt-A-Whirl, Scrambler, Ferris Wheel, Spook/Funhouse, Wild Mouse, Dodgem cars, Paratrooper, Caterpillar, Octopus...and sometimes even the merry-go-round. The Wild Mouse (or Wildcat) was the only roller-coaster-type ride we had.
And they were all run by some guy with no teeth and a cigarette butt hangin' out of his mouth. If he had teeth, they were stained brown. I'm not knockin' it, that's just the way it was.
Of course the Legion grounds weren't official fairgrounds, and towns to this day have carnivals set up almost anywhere: parking lots, ball fields, etc. The bigger towns usually have an official fairground.
All that said, take a look at a few of Michigan's fairgrounds – the fields, the lots...even the official ones...