Carnivals consist of games, rides, shows, feasting, and overall merriment, which developed from the traditional outdoor festivals of Europe in honor of seasonal changes or religious holidays that date back hundreds of years ago.
Fairs are large theme based events held to promote and present agricultural, commercial, industrial, and artistic exhibits to fairgoers while also providing the fun and amusement of carnivals.
The traveling carnival began in America in the late 1800’s as a result of improved transportation and technology.
A famous American carnival is the Mardi Gras, which is held in late winter in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was introduced to America on March 3, 1699 by French explorer, Iberville.
The first annual fair in the American colonies was held in 1641 in New Amsterdam (now New York City) to showcase farm products of the local area.
The USA’s first state fair was held in Syracuse, New York in September of 1841.
The first World’s Fair was held in 1851 in England at London’s Crystal Palace. The fair exhibited American machinery of the Industrial Revolution.
The Eiffel Tower was built by Gustave Eiffel for the Paris World’s Fair of 1889, which honored the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
The Ferris wheel was invented by George W. Ferris for the 1893 World’s Fair, which was held in Chicago to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s landing in America.
The first time that fairgoers ate hot dogs and ice cream as they walked along the midway was during the Saint Louis World’s Fair in 1904, thus coining these two foods as the world’s first “fast foods”.
What we call “Cotton Candy” was originally called “Fairy Floss” and was invented in 1897 by candy makers William Morris and John C. Wharton of Nashville, Tennessee. It was introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. It has also been called “Spun Sugar” and in the United Kingdom it is called “Candy Floss”.
The Midway is the main path or street that fairgoers walk along to find sideshows, concession stands, and other amusements.
Games you play at a fair or carnival also go by the slang name, “joints”.
Midnight Madness is when the fair stays open past midnight and into the early morning hours.