After three decades of the same carnival company running the midway, the Wisconsin State Fair this year is operating it itself, joining a half-dozen state fairs that do it this way. The fair handpicked 35 operators to run 52 rides and 31 games at what they're calling SpinCity on the north end of the grounds.Once upon a time, Royal American Shows brought the attractions, and the workers, to the fairgrounds on a train, complete with sleeping quarters for the crews. There has to be a research note on the rationale for separating the ownership of rides and arcade games.
"No ride owner has games, and no game owner has rides. They're completely separate. These are professionals at what they do," [Wisconsin State Fair director Rick] Frenette said.
And they must follow the rules laid out by the fair. Those rules, posted in the midway, say the games "must be fair and must provide the player with an opportunity to win."
"That means we don't have any oval basketball hoops. All the hoops are round" and regulation size, and the balls are properly inflated, Frenette said.
There's still plenty of opportunity to lose, of course. The operators agree to pay out $25 worth of prizes for every $100 spent at their game booths.
Background checks are done on the mobile amusement workers (the term they prefer to carnies), and they're told how they must run the games, how to dress (no sideways caps), and even where to sleep (not on or under the rides and games).
The idea is to class the joint up a little and make it family friendly without destroying the illusion of danger and risky possibilities that makes a midway a midway.
ON THE MIDWAY.
What, carnival games are rigged?