June 30, 2013

Carnivals a labor of love for Clinton men

Despite challenges and negative stereotypes, they give their all to a business that they were born into.

By JESSE SCARDINA Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

East Coast Midways owners are Billy Swafford, left, and Faron Young.

Photos by Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

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Adam Trott, 25, left, and Tim Siwek, 32, install a horse on one of the company’s merry-go-rounds Tuesday in Fairfield.

FACING THE INDUSTRY STEREOTYPE

The carnival industry is often stigmatized in pop culture as a business for the uneducated and unsightly. Drug abusers and sketchy dealings are often associated with carnivals.

"You get the people that think we're scum," Swafford said, "but I ignore it. It's ignorance on their part. All of our employees are drug tested. We do background checks on all of them."

Swafford said the industry has changed drastically since he was a kid greasing the merry-go-round. Besides increased regulations and competing with an abundance of entertainment sources for today's youth, the largest issue concerning the carnival industry is the fluctuating economy.

"Back in the day, when the economy would start to go downhill, carnivals would always do better because people wouldn't take their families on vacation -- they'd splurge at the town carnival once a year," Swafford said. "That doesn't happen now. People don't spend like they used to. We're battling a bad economy. We're battling fuel prices. But we're still growing."

Still, despite the challenges and stereotypes, Swafford still remembers the teenager in himself, in love with the business, waiting for the day he could start his own.

"I'm proud to say I'm in this business," he said. "It's a proud business. It's an honest business. I love it." 

Jesse Scardina can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

jscardina@mainetoday.com

 

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