SIDESHOWS

by Ron Fritz

 

DENNIS SIDESHOWS

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. 


Photograph

Tattooed Pig and Freak Animals

One Trip Too Many Drug Show

Article:

Reprinted from CAROUSEL September 1990, Submitted by Rick Dennis

 

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