Carnival changes impact festivals

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By Travis Mounts and Michelle Leidy-Franklin, TSnews

As the fall festival season gears up, many communities in Kansas are putting their schedules together without a carnival.
Earlier this year, the Ottaway Amusement Company left the industry. Some of the equipment was sold off to a relative and Weee Entertainment in Dodge City bought other rides.
Locally, fall festivals in Conway Springs and Goddard have been without a carnival. Both events have made plans to provide other entertainment options, including inflatables.
Tsnews first reported on this news in March, after the announcement about Ottaway Amusement Company came out.
“So basically, half of the festivals in Kansas have lost their carnival and there are no other companies that will travel to Kansas from what I have been told by all of the other carnivals I have reached out to,” Goddard Chamber of Commerce director Angie Duntz said at the time.
Daphne Kennard with the Conway Springs Fall Fest committee said scheduling Weee to replace Ottaway was not an option.
“They were already booked that weekend, and we couldn’t find another carnival,” she said.
Duntz said that the Goddard Fall Festival talked to every carnival in this part of the country. Other than Weee, other carnivals are located in other states. They said they would not come to Kansas for a single carnival.
The cost of transporting a carnival is very expensive. Owners have to pay their employees, fuel and maintenance, and more. It can cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars per mile to move a carnival, and high gas prices have made that cost even more expensive.
Chris Barton of Pride of Texas Carnivals, which comes to the Sedgwick County Fair, said bringing his carnival to Cheney works financially because the carnival makes others stops on the way and back, including a major festival in Topeka. That’s the case for other carnivals, which must plan their circuit in a way to make travel as efficient as possible.
With the number of festivals and events far outnumbering the available carnivals, the bigger events are beating out smaller community events.
Clearwater is expecting to have Weee Entertainment at its festival Oct. 14-16, honoring a contract that the Clearwater Fall Festival had with Ottaway. Weee will be at the Haysville Fall Festival the following weekend.