Eli5: how do travelling carnival folk make a living?

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We have a carnival coming for our town festival I always wondered how they make a living. Do they actually have a different place to be every week they set up and make money at or is it like a seasonal thing where most them have a part time job aswell?

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Some crews work the northern states in the summer and then work the southern states in the winter, so it can be year-round work if you’re willing to travel that far.

More local operations will be seasonal – not a lot of carnival ride demand in Chicago in February.

Depending on what “carnival” means here, they might be employees of the carnival.

If not, it’s sort of like you described. I’ll use Renaissance Faires as an example. There are a lot of big ones that happen in the same places around the same times every year. A lot of the performers and vendors I see at the one in October are also at the one in April, because they travel around between the different major places.

Same thing with a lot of the artists I know. They’re very aware of the major cons related to the kinds of people they make art for and travel frequently.

Also the internet has helped out these people a lot: many of the vendors at places I go have websites and that helps them sell things to people who maybe saw the booth and were interested but didn’t decide to buy anything until it was too late.

Our carnival is the typical rides, all the mini games, food stands etc. The scary part is those rides are the exact same as the ones I rode as a kid 25 years ago. I just don’t understand how it can be profitable to do that work moving all that equipment every week.

Yes, carnivals more around from place to place on a weekly basis… they may not operate all year long, but can travel northern places in the summer and move to warmer places for fall and spring. So maybe they spend the summer running 15 carnivals around the Midwest and then do some in Tennessee and the Carolinas in the fall, and then down to Florida before hitting Georgia and Alabama in the spring on their way back north.