I was stopped at a traffic light at Highway 29 and I-85, when this thing pulled up next to me…
I was momentarily distracted by the bright colors (and fumbling with the camera) and almost missed the light changing.
This encounter got me thinking about carnival rides. Let’s say I’ve got several spare acres of land, more disposable income than sense, and that I want to amuse myself with some mechanical contraption. Where would I get an Octapus or Tilt-a-Whirl? Is there a carnival ride dealership somewhere that I could go to kick the tires and give it a test spin? Are there some common models, or are all built-to-order? Mind you, I’m not talking about the huge one-of-a-kind (sort-of) specialty rides found at Six Flags, Carowinds, or other theme parks. I’m talking about the kind that might cruise in for a week at an abandoned shopping center parking lot, or like those Furman hires for Homecoming.
These things weighed heavily on my mind, so I did a quick Google search and found Matt’s Carnival Warehouse. This seems to be a clearing house for all things carnival-related. There is an extensive database of traveling shows, complete with a listing of the rides available and contact information. There is also a separate listing of rides including manufacturer and the traveling shows that feature those rides.
Of course, since I want something to occupy my mythical spare acreage, I clicked on the Mfg. and Suppliers link. There were about 32 companies listed. There was Chance Morgan Rides, builders of roller coasters and other larger rides for smaller theme parks, and the maker of the original Tilt-a-Whirl. Surpisingly, there were two upstate South Carolina companies listed. First was Expo Wheels LLC, located in Easley. I think the rides in the photo above were from this group. Second was High Lite Rides, Inc, located nearby in Greer. In fact, it’s located just around the corner from where we are planning our newest elementary school. That will be convenient when we want to do a Fall Festival or something.
I guess the question of whether or not these rides are kept in stock or built to order can be answered by looking at a satellite view of of High Lite Rides. The image shows large manufacturing buildings, but no rides on the premises.