Q&A with co-owner of Poor Jack Amusements

Check out a preview for the 2014 Late Nite Carnival by clicking here.

On Friday night, the C-1 commuter parking lot will be filled with rides, booths and attractions for the Late Nite Carnival.

For Gary Bohlander, co-owner of Poor Jack Amusements, running carnivals is about people and the reuniting with customers and friends he has made in the decades since he started.

Q: What do you like about the carnival? 

A: It really is the only thing I’ve done in my whole life. I’ve never worked for anybody else. I’ve never filled out a W-2 like people do that have a job. It really is about the people. Most of the fairs and events and things that we do, we’ve done for years and years. ... It’s like a reunion.

It seems like the perfect thing. ... It’s really not for everybody; it’s a lot of hard work, particularly in the summer. But the good things outweigh the bad for me, for sure. I’ve been really fortunate and glad that I’ve been able to do it my whole life.

Q: How did Poor Jack Amusements start? 

A: My dad was in the service in the Korean War. ... When he came home from the service around 1954, they had already tinkered in the concession business and the carnival business. ... He decided he would try a whole carnival. He bought a few rides and here we are, 60 years later.

Q: What is it like to travel? 

A: Most of the summer, we are hardly ever more than a couple hours from home. I live in an RV-type trailer [in] a different place every week during the summer. But to me, it doesn’t seem like travel.

Q: When does the company run carnivals? 

A: This is a week earlier than we normally start. We get to extend our season a week. ... Our season lasts about six months. ... This is like our spring training.

Q: What’s it like setting up the equipment? 

A: A lot of hard work, really. Our guys that do all this stuff really deserve more credit than they get probably. But a lot of them, I think, enjoy it too because we do get a lot of return workers. ... Every piece of equipment that is being set up at the moment is being done by a person that is knowledgeable.

Q: What kind of routine goes into running the rides? A: Each piece of equipment has a daily checklist. It’s sort of like I’m also a pilot and it’s sort of like flying an airplane. You’re supposed to go over and touch and look and check everything before you get in it to go.


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