Thursday, November 21, 2013


A key part of carnivals has historically been the "Side Shows", although with all the political correctness, they tend to not be as interesting in the past. In looking at the picture above, I can not help but wonder what was waiting for the spectators when they went inside.

I went to several side shows over the years, and remember that back in the 1970's there were still some pretty good ones, but they have gone downhill since then. I went to one at the State Fair of Texas that had a sword swallower (man could hold his head back and put a sword all the way down his throat), a fire eater (he would put kerosene in his mouth and then spit it out over a match, spitting out a large flame of fire), the Walrus Man (a man with no arms but with hands coming out his shoulder, Popeye (could pop his eyes out of socket), the Alligator Woman (had a skin disorder and you could strike a match on her skin), and then a guy who would drive nails up his nose and put fish hooks through his tounge.  Since then, side shows are mostly great graphics on the outside, but not really much once you get in.

Please share your side show memories.


  1. Probably a fellow wearing a carbide light on his head and smeared with copious amounts of coal dust.

  2. Coney Island used to have side shows, not sure if they do anymore. I remember one they had called "Shoot the Freak". Basically they have this guy in a pit acting all crazy and running around. They give you a paint ball gun and some paint balls and invite you to literally Shoot the freak! Very strange but I have to think they made good money. Always a line for that one. As a side note: My favorite Ferris wheel is the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. It's your standard wheel with a twist. Some of the cars slide from the inner diameter to the outside diameter of the wheel while it's going around. After that, have a hot dog at Nathans on the boardwalk and your in heaven.

  3. I'll bet the guy under the tent is Tickle, from the Moonshiners show.