“Come out and we’ll show you,” he said Tuesday as the rides, games and food booths were opening for the Park County Fair, which runs through Saturday.
Seated at a picnic table by his travel trailer, Guadagno and his son, Kyle Guadagno, and the show’s general manager, Dale Razor, were finalizing plans for the show’s opening day. All are carnival veterans and said they want to show Powell and Park County how a good carnival operates.
Tony Guadagno said he depends on good employees to make that point clear.
“It only takes one bad apple to mess up the whole thing,” he said. “We want people to have fun, have our workers be polite. People should enjoy the show and go home happy.”
Guadagno said he has worked in carnivals his entire life and has operated rides, worked sideshows and taken tickets. His two brothers also operate traveling carnivals. His grandfather started The Pike, an amusement park that ran from 1902 to 1979 in Long Beach.
“I grew up in the business,” Guadagno said.
He offers a meaty hand and provides a firm, strong shake. There’s some dirt and grease on his mitt, because he’s the kind of owner who rolls up his sleeves and helps get things up and running.
Guadagno said if people have concerns or complaints, he wants to hear them. His goal is to provide the people of Park County with such a good time at this year’s fair that his show will be asked to return next year with more rides, more games and more fun.
He said they were asked by the Park County Fair Board to come here after the carnival that was at the 2012 fair went out of business. People were dissatisfied with that show, he has been told, so he decided to make it clear his carnival is a completely different operation, even if that meant investing in a long trip to northwest Wyoming.
“It was a haul,” Razor said. “An 1,100-mile jump.”
“We’ll see how it goes,” Guadagno said. “If there is community support, we’ll bring you some more rides and games next year. We offer a decent and clean carnival.”
They only want hard-working, clean-cut people on staff representing them.
“You don’t want people reeking of cigarette smoke and booze on your rides,” Razor said. “We run a clean show.”
They brought 21 workers with them and will hire about three more people from the community when things get busier this weekend. That’s also good community relations, Guadagno said.
Kevin Henderson works at a booth offering shots at a high basket for $2, and also helps out at the giant turkey leg stand.
Henderson, 23, joined the carnival at the start of the summer. He had worked in pool maintenance, he said, and welcomed the change.
“It’s been fun,” Henderson said as he awaited a customer on Tuesday afternoon. He took a few shots himself and joked with other carnies.
“I like the traveling,” he said. “Get to see sections of the country.”
Like the other workers, Henderson puts in some long days, estimating he works about 50 hours a week or more with few days off. Carnies are paid an hourly wage, he said, but rely on a percentage of their rides, games and food booths to make most of their money.
They stay in trailers that are part of the traveling caravan. Henderson said his coworkers range in age and background, but all have been pleasant to meet and work with.
Guadagno and Razor said they fingerprint their employees and perform background checks. Workers dress in uniforms and are trained to offer proper service.
Fernando, Mira and Emily Campos, all of California, are working at the show. The family has been with it for about a year, they said, and has enjoyed the experience.
It’s more fun when it’s busy, said Emily, 13. That’s when they make more money, and time passes more quickly.
“Generally it’s good,” she said. “When it’s slow it gets a little boring. But Friday and Saturday are fun because more people come out.”
Guadagno, who said his family is deeply religious and emphasizes the family nature of the business, also said he looks forward to having the chance to get away to do a little hunting and fishing while he is in Wyoming.
“Have people come on out and tell me about some good spots,” he said.