Ford F-350 with an aluminum flatbed trailer toting a golf cart and hitched to a “funnel cake” trailer.
 - Photo: Tom Berg

Ford F-350 with an aluminum flatbed trailer toting a golf cart and hitched to a “funnel cake” trailer.

Photo: Tom Berg

Sleep-interruption insomnia allows me to see things that I’d otherwise miss. For instance, about 1:30 on a recent Monday morning I glanced out my office window and saw a convoy of trucks and trailers pulling into the Delaware County (Ohio) Fairgrounds just across the street. Some of the vehicles were gaily lit but were otherwise shrouded in darkness. So, because of the harness racing activity there, I figured they were horse transporters.

About 8 that morning I looked across and saw a bunch of carnival equipment parked on the grounds. “So that’s what they are,” I said to myself. I figured the carneys had overnighted on their way to a venue farther down the road. Late that morning trucks and trailers, some of them Class 8 semis, began leaving in twos and threes, and I wondered why they didn’t pull out as they arrived, in convoy fashion.

Turns out their venue was close by, at a local church whose annual fund-raising festival was to begin on a Friday evening. The carneys were headed there to begin setting up their equipment. A few days later I walked over to the fairgrounds and chatted with a couple of people to get some details.

Driver Cole Cassel was preparing to leave. He sat in an older Ford F-350 with an aluminum flatbed trailer toting a golf cart and hitched to a “funnel cake” trailer. (You know what funnel cakes are – low-calorie, high-protein health food… ha ha, just kidding. They’re large lumps of sugary cake batter deep-fried to a delicious crispness; one of them is all I can take.) Cassel said the convoy had left Indianapolis late Sunday afternoon, which is why he and his fellow workers arrived in the wee hours on Monday.

The company, Funtime Carnival out of suburban Cincinnati, will have done 26 events by the time the season wraps up in mid-October, Cassel said. Tammy Bosley, another worker, said they began their touring in mid-April. She spends the other six months of the year in central Florida. Most carneys have been in the business for a long time, and seem to enjoy the nomadic lifestyle with lots of time off.

Among the Funtime equipment were a half-dozen travel trailers where the carnys slept. Most were large units with two or three slide-outs, so life was pretty comfortable. Think about it: Millions of people spend gobs of money RVing, but the carneys travel much of the country and get paid for it. Yes, they have to put up with screaming kids and maybe overprotective parents, but many people are nice. They’re there to have a good time, and their moods usually match.  

 - Photo: Tom Berg

Photo: Tom Berg

One of the rides not yet deployed to the church’s fair was the Hip Hop Bears.  The bears are small cars that spin around while traveling in a circle. Can you say, “motion sickness”? On the trailer was a sign with rules of the ride. Among the admonishments was, “DO NOT force your child to ride if he or she is frightened. A scared child on the ground may well panic on the ride.” Seems like good advice.

 - Photo: Tom Berg

Photo: Tom Berg

Many of Funtime’s trailers were four-wheelers comparatively light in weight and pulled by large pickups, but some are Class 8 types of various configurations. Some had rides built aboard and others hauled heavy support equipment. One was a drop-deck pull trailer carrying a large forklift. Wheel prints in the grass just ahead of it indicated the trailer was part of a doubles combination while on the road. All the equipment I saw was in top condition – clean, with complete running gear and deep-treaded tires.

I took a spin by the church the next day and saw that many of the rides were set up and raring to go. One street had been blocked off to accommodate a Ferris wheel. I meant to stop by while things were in full swing, but didn’t make it. I hope the fair went well, financially and fun-wise.


Related: Talbert Shows Off 80-Year-Old First Trailer

Author

Tom Berg
Tom Berg

Tom Berg

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational trucks and trailers of all types.

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Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational trucks and trailers of all types.

View Bio
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