The Herald Bulletin

July 25, 2010

On the Job: Carnival stand man lives on the road

Weather plays a role in job's downside

By Christina M. Wright
The Herald Bulletin

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — Joseph Hendrickson, 24, is originally from Missouri. Now, he’s part of “small town on wheels,” as a carnival game attendant with the Family Attractions and Amusement Company. The company’s recent weeklong stint at the Madison County 4-H Fair brought Hendrickson to Indiana for the first time.

He said, “carnies get a bad name,” with residents tending to believe the carnival yanks money from their local economies with through-the-roof prices. Hendrickson said carnival prices go up and down with the economy.

Regardless, he said, “when we come into town, we pour money into the town.” He said repairs for the trailers, concession stands and food far outweigh how much patrons spend to have fun. Building supply stores alone, he said, rake in thousands of dollars.

Q: How long have you been at your job?

Hendrickson: Eight years.

Q: What do you like best about your job?

Hendrickson: It’s a different town every week, and the money, and people. I’ve met way more people in my life than the average person.

Q: What do you like least?

Hendrickson: The hours. I don’t get hardly any time to myself.

Q: What are the challenges on the job?

Hendrickson: Rain. If it rains, a percentage of zero is still zero. Today, the heat’s a factor. Everything depends on everything to go right in this business.

Q: What’s the most serious thing that has happened on the job?

Hendrickson: Tornadoes bringing down the concession stands. Accidents on the highway, with my house just rolling down the highway.

Q: What kind of jobs does America need?

Hendrickson: Everybody needs jobs. There’s no easy answer to that. There are 30 to 40 people in every town asking for jobs.

Q: What other jobs have you had?

Hendrickson: My first job was delivering newspapers. After that, at 16, I got a job at the Pizza Inn and Subway. I was working at one job in the mornings and the other at night. Then, I got a job at Dairy Queen. Then, I got a welder’s license from Job Corps. After Job Corps, I couldn’t get a welding job, so I got a job with my sister at Pizza Hut. Then, Burger King and Godfather’s at the same time. Then I worked for a construction company. Then, I joined the carnival.

Q: What would be your idea of the perfect job?

Hendrickson: A tournament poker champion, Texas Hold ‘Em. That’d be the perfect job for me.

Q: If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?

Hendrickson: I’d probably travel the world. I’ve been to Mexico, Canada and almost every continental state in the U.S. But there are other countries I want to see.

Q: How do you like to spend your hard-earned money?

Hendrickson: I don’t but I can never save it. It just goes and goes and goes.

Contact Christina M. Wright, 640-4883,