Rick Dennis, sideshow operator from Vestal, N.Y. had his
"Willie Wright went wrong" drug abuse show and Tattooed
Pig and Freak Animal Show booked on J & J Amusements for 5
dates. Susan S Chaffer is partner on the Tattooed Pig show
with Rick. William Rhoads was also employed on the show.
The drug abuse show featured "Willie Wrights performing
different block head acts including a running Black & Decker
drill with a nail attached to the end. The Tattooed Pig and
Freak Animal Show featured "Porky" a 300Ib. Tattooed Pig.
Also included were two chickens with reversed feet, and
three preserved freak pig babies.
The circus sideshow, the ten-in-one and other carnival
shows exhibiting more than one human freaks of nature have
been called side shows since early days of the business. The
title has not been applied to the smaller single-O
attractions which reason would say were the sideshows on a
midway. This type show is not extinct, although the numbers
have declined drastically in the last decade. In better days, these shows (as well as good girl revues) were
financed by the carnival office itself to ensure having a
good show on the midway. Unfortunately the office computers
have reported these bad investments, and the practice is
almost stopped. Only a handful of good sideshow operators
are left around the midways now. Old time operators, Slim
Kelley and Pete Kortes have died in the last decade, as did
Whitey Sutton who was still active with a big side show on
the James E. Strates midway.
There are showmen around capable of building new Sideshows
though. Although, they declare every Fall, "We won't troupe
a big ten-in-one type sideshow another season," Hall &
Christ frame one or more big ones every spring and book them
along with their many Single-O Attractions. Too many older
folks, who don't want to ride a joggling ride setting up a
sales resistance to paying for something they don't intend
to use, has caused the fair to book on big shows of every
kind. Hall and Christ were selected to furnish these shows.
Rick has been associated with sideshows for 25 years and had
his 10 in 1 show booked the last four years on S & S
Amusements playing mostly Pennsylvania Fairs.
Dennis will operate his shows on Benner Amusements through
Labor Day, before heading to his southern route.
The photographs on this page are from the Firemans
Carnival in Pennsylvania with J & J Amusements, where the shows did
very good business.
Pig and Freak Animals
Too Many Drug Show
CAROUSEL September 1990,
Submitted by Rick Dennis