When carnivals come to town, they are often on the look out for local people to help set up, tear down, and maybe even help run the various rides, games, concession stands, and ticket booths.
How do you get a job? This is one interview you will not be expected to wear a suit and tie to. As soon as you see the carnival pulling into town, go hang out in the area where they will be setting up (just be sure not to get in the way or too close to the equipment!) When you see someone, ask who you should talk to about getting a job. You should be able to play it by ear from there.
If you are hired, be ready to work hard and prepared to follow any dress code rules such as putting up your hair or shaving off your moustache. And don’t wear baggy clothing that could get caught on stuff.
Be aware that working for a carnival is a real job. You should have your ID, social security number, and any other general job info ready if you are hired. This was the first mistake I made when I didn’t work for the carnival. – Not knowing my SS# and not having a valid ID made things difficult the next year when I wanted do my taxes. (Yeah, I’m a weirdo. – I LOVE filling out my 1040!)
But before you worry about that stuff, you need to get hired. Most of the people I have known that traveled with the carnival started out as town help. They made it clear that they might want to travel. And at the end of the week – they were told if they could come.
If you do get hired, be prepared to work hard up to 7 days a week for little pay and to live in small quarters. Know that some shows are better than others. The place I worked for was kind enough to stick some of us in a hotel for a week when they didn’t have quite enough bunk houses for everyone to stay in 🙂 I have heard of other shows having employees either pay for their own hotel or sleep on the rides. – Talk to your co-workers and be sure you know what you will be getting yourself into before accepting a traveling job.
It doesn’t matter too much how you dress for setting up and tearing down rides. After all, it is likely to get stained and maybe even torn. Just keep basic safety rules in mind. Wearing shorts is more likely to get your legs scraped up than wearing jeans. Baggy clothes can get caught on stuff and pose a risk. Shoe laces need to be tied short for the same reason. Shoes should have a good “grip” to them, meaning you don’t want to wear anything that lets you slip easily. Sandals are bad – tennis shoes are good.
If you are working while the show is actually open – you will be expected to dress more nicely. Show up showered with any long hair neatly put up. Have on clean clothes. You may be required to wear a company shirt or specific colors and they might ask you to shave. It may be “just a carnival”, but they are a business and their customers should be treated with courtesy.
Good luck finding a job out there! I am in the process of trying to find out which carnivals are the best to work for and which ones hire most often. I will share that info here as soon as I find out.