Live From the Florida State Fair

by Doc. Rick West




Dateline Saturday Feb. 12th….Live from the midway…


Cool weather for the fair’s opening. Things warmed up today and the crowds of fun-seekers filled the midway.


Thursday the first day of the fair, Mr. Ward Hall made the opening bally on Gary Syers’s brand new “World

of Wonder/ Palace of Illusions” sideshow.


Jimmy Zajieck is running two ticket boxes in front of hissideshow. Taped Jimmy’s bally today. Hope to record Mr.Hall’s opening tomorrow.


James Taylor and Kathleen Kotcher (Shocked and Amazed) stopped by yesterday…


…wireless on my laptop, battery is low, more later…the undercover sideshow reporter posting live from the fair…


…Live from the FSF MIDWAY… 


Dateline…Saturday night…long day, long lines, long count. 


Laptop…hacking wireless signal near the fair office. May be detected at any minute and cut off…


The Prof., Lee Koloszy, stopped by and verbally threatened me...“Rick, I’ll be back tomorrow and can visit all day.” Not to be outdone I barked back, “See ya tomorrow.”


I awoke a little confused this morning, the Gatorman who was asleep next to me was calling my dog, “Here

Houston.” The dog is back in Texas…guess he misses her.


We are sleeping under Jimmy Z’s Mack truck, gawd, it brings back childhood memories. The Gatorman looks like Hansen’s frozen creature and is mumbling something, in a language neither of us know.


I was going to make the trip alone but my lovely wife,  Abby, told me to take my pet with me. I have to keep an eye  on the Gatorman, these “First of Mays” can jump ship at any moment. (Gatorman has only been with me 17 years) 


Jimmy brings out the Mystery Man. He is dressed in black cover-alls And is wearing a sinister looking black leather mask that has zippers at the mouth and eye openings…


“Many of you people have been wondering about the gentleman to my left. Unfortunately by order

of the State Fair Authority I am not allowed to describe this man or his act out on the carnival midway. All I’m allowed to tell you is this…When he goes back into the big sideshow tent and removes this hood and performs his act…..the old ladies faint, young girls will scream, and all the guys will holler..…Oh, my Gawd!


Oh, my Gawd!          


It’s show time!” 


Honeymoon at the FSF!!!


Dateline…Sunday Feb. 13th…sunny skies, big crowds of fun-seekers.…live on the midway…


John Strong called to relay the news that he will be bringing his new bride, the Cat Woman, to the Florida State Fair.  The perfect honeymoon for a showman. eh!


Gary S., proud owner of  WORLD of WONDERS…PALACE of ILLUSIONS, talked the front Sunday. He’ll

be an old hand at “turning the tip” before this spot ends.


Across from WOW is one of the many rides with a live DJ…..Oh my gawd, it’s the “Battle of the Sound Systems”!  (Sound levels approaching the red pain area on the decibel meter.)


As I was making one of my numerous LONG treks between the sideshows and my secret reporting area behind the shrubbery near the office, I fell through a worm hole into the 1970’s. There, right in front of me was a food stand where everything was one dollar.  No shit, everything’s a buck…hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, drinks,  everything…Please remember I am at the FSF, not a cheap place to eat. Well, I did not have to see a menu before telling the good man, “Give me one of everything”.


Gatorman is manning a ticket box for Jimmy Z. Both ticket boxes running overtime Sunday.


……”See Iggy and Ziggy the two-headed piggy, see Myrtle and Eartle  the two-headed turtle, Alive, Alive, Alive! See Little Biscuit the miniature horse, a horse so-o-o small he can stand on the

palm of your hand.


(It’s going to hurt when he stands on your hand, ha!)


During ballys, WOW large tip closes down the entire midway in front of their stage. Mr. Hall’s voice is the music of the Pied Piper,  although it is showing the effect of the long weekend. The weekdays will give everyone a little break…at least during the daytime hours.


…time to head for the cookhouse and get some breakfast…the underground sideshow reporter, live from the FSF…




Dateline…Sunday February 13th


Mr. Hall's voice is holding strong. It's MAGIC to watch him talk the front!!!!!!

A real artist and gentleman!

My cousin, Wayne Pies, has six grind shows set up. Steady flow of fun-seekers through
the shows.

Sunny and warm...a great Monkey Day.

John, best of luck with SIDESHOW WORLD!

....reporting from behind the bushes in front of the FSF offices... "the undercover sideshow reporter"...Rick


Bunny and Bambi Love strut their Stuff!!!!…..FSF 


Dateline…FSF, Monday February 14th…live on the midway… 


Jimmy Z, Ward H., Chris C. and I spent an hour or so jackpotting in the cookhouse this morning. I told Ward I thought Gary did a pretty good job on the bally. He informed me that yesterday was Gary’s first time talking the front.  


He said, “Gary has a lot of natural ability.”

Some of the acts at WOW have other engagements and will not be staying for both weekends but Ward is bringing in the SHOW GIRLS!


Bunny and Bambi Love will be strutting their stuff out on the WOW bally stage this coming weekend.


WOW’s guillotine is busted and out of commission.  Jimmy Z. hauls his welder down and repairs the guillotine…applause all around.


…Monday crowds smaller…partly cloudy but no rain…everyone gets a little rest… 


In the evening, down at WOW, I meet Ses Carny…he has to “go dance on stage”, so I stay and watch his act.




Ses is a pro…I love his sarcastic humor!


Jim Hand, the circus painter, stopped by. He wanted Jimmy to get his van into the fair. Jim H. painted some admission signs and a bally clock for WOW. I knew he was coming down so I had him do a little work for me. I had him paint up three old wooden reserved seating chairs from the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus

…1969 season.  He painted that information across the back of the chairs. (They’ll look great in my office!)


I wrap up the evening over in the cookhouse, cutting up a few with Ward Hall, Chris C., and Jimmy Z. …my stomach hurts from laughing…unforgettable memories…


…live from the Florida State Fair Midway…the undercover sideshow reporter…reporting the news from behind the “pig pen”….Rick




Dateline…home lot, Nacogdoches Texas…


Tuesday night about 12:00 AM, I was heading off to bed when I spied Gary S. sitting alone at a picnic


table in front of WOW.

I wondered what he was thinking as he sat staring at his 100 foot front on the dark, deserted midway.


Maybe, he was admiring his big show.


Maybe, he was thinking of changes he would like to make.


Maybe, he was thinking about the days remaining at the FSF.


Or just maybe, he was thinking, “what have I gotten myself into!”


“Hi Gary”, I said, as I sat down across from him.


We talked for about an hour before we both realized we needed sleep. “I wish you the best”, I said.


As I headed off he told me to be careful on the drive home.


In the morning, I loaded up my stuff and headed for Texas…1035 miles… the Gatorman and my bottled punk,  “Little Bobby” were all aboard.


At the first rest area I “pitched” the truckers my little cleft pallet, four-legged wonder.




only one dollar a look…Gatorman collected the cash while I lifted the towel to expose Little Bobby to the paying curiosity-seekers.


Gas money!


We tried the pitch again at Waffle World but the management came storming out. They kicked us off their

parking lot for causing a disturbance! Too bad, I had already gathered a large tip.


Twenty-five hours after leaving Tampa we rolled into the home lot where we were welcomed by “Zulanna,

Star of the East, my heart and soul, my Love Goddess,my most UNDERSTANDING bride…

(“…Rick, it’s not going in the living room…”)


After a sleep deprived week and a thousand mile drive this aging showmen needs a little rest…but FIRST, I

must get the film to the developer….


It’s the “Must Get to Bed Early Rick.” 


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