Carnivals: The People Who Build Them

Carnivals have always brought a sense of wonder and adventure to me. I marvel at the dazzling lights and flashing colours. What had once been an empty parking lot would come alive with imaginative themes. The very air would become saturated with a whimsical mood. People came to carnivals to forget. To rattle their brains of thought and spin their worries away.

It’s been this way for decades according to popular culture. Magic and mystery travel hand-in-hand with the carnival in our imaginations.

As always overnight it seemed as though the rides had risen from the dust.

And, like being there at exactly the moment the wheels of a pivot begin to turn or watching a spider complete its a web, I managed to appear at the carnival’s doorstep right as it began to build its fantastic façade. Continue reading “Carnivals: The People Who Build Them”

Carnivals: The People Who Build Them 2

Climbing up to each ride with my feet clanking on every step. I only had eyes for the hand rail, the stairs and the waiting empty seats. The glance I’d share with the operator of the ride would be one of dismissal. You’ve seen my wristband now let me ride I’d be saying behind my cheerful smile. I’d notice but not focus on the fact that each glimpsed face was different. Some gave me a large toothy—or toothless—smile, others looked right on past me.

Some individuals were white skinned while others were dark skinned. Sometimes faces and hands was dark from oil and grease. Some faces were crinkled like waterless riverbeds and tiny canyons. Others were identical to the teens waiting to ride.

The same as it would be in a small town, there were eyes that laughed, that silently cried, that you wouldn’t want to meet in an alley and eyes that welcomed you with all their heart.

Continue reading “Carnivals: The People Who Build Them 2”

Kinsmen Pro Rodeo: June 7th and 8th

The big screen at the far end of the arena displayed what I couldn’t see from my place in the stands. In all his pixel glory a cowboy is twisting a strip of leather and rawhide around his hand and the saddle so he can create a suitcase-like grip. With each second he is tying himself more firmly to the bronc’s back. I can’t help recalling what a former classmate said when I interviewed him earlier about being on the rodeo circuit as a saddle bronc rider. “It was the most comfortable, natural thing for me to do and it’s what I like the best,” he said.

“I wasn’t interested in tying myself to a bull.”

There is a bang as the horse shifts in the stall, jostling the cowboy and causing the men around him to jerk back. After a moment the spat is nothing more than a memory.

Seconds later the door flies open. The horse leaps out with explosive energy. Flying out like a coiled spring it bounds forward kicking at the air in energetic earnest. The crowd is cheering trying to glue the cowboy to the bronc’s back with their enthusiasm.

Points will be awarded to both the bronc and the cowboy for their performance. This is a shared moment, a split effort, a reenactment of a historical bond—bound to less than 8 seconds in time. Continue reading “Kinsmen Pro Rodeo: June 7th and 8th”