While not strictly magic, the annual International Independent Showmen’s Association Trade Show in Gibsontown (herein after “Gibtown”) is something to which we look forward every year.
We’ve been to Gibtown many times but never during the trade show.
Oh, how we long to be there during the show.
Our problem, though, is that we geek-out (as the kids say) about geeky things. You show us a hall full of rides for sale, equipment to repair those rides, or even cotton candy machines of varying price points and features; and we’re not right.
We search out carnivals and circuses to search out people who work in both with the hope of talking to them for hours. We imagine they have better things to do but we don’t, so it is kind of a balance. We could listen (and have) to ride operators talk about set-up and tear-down of their rides. We talk to people working midway games far too long and circus logistics — don’t get us started.
Oddly, we could care less about the engineering that goes into the creation of the track upon which a ride must travel safely over and over. But let us shadow the person who sets up that track on a marshy ground with little or no spacing between the ride and the ticket kiosk, powered by big thick cables emanating from a junction box, in turn powered by thicker cables from a generator behind the backdrop of a nearby ride and we are in heaven.
In our very much younger days, we worked for essentially free at Clyde Beatty Cole Brothers’ Circus during its stop in south central Florida. We say essentially free because we got free food, a Coke, and tickets to the show.
But we were in the milieu (as the avant–garde kids would say). Back in those days, the elephants were responsible for pulling the rope to in turn pull up the canvas of the big top. We were responsible for setting chairs on risers. The big top would then come down at the end of the night, get rolled up and loaded for the trip to the next town.
Gibtown is to carnival and amusement folks as Colon is to magicians. A mecca with homes, trailers, rides and people taking their winter hiatus, preparing for their next stretch, fixing equipment, meeting others and sharing stories of the road or plans for the next trip out.
At night, in Gibtown, the air is humid, thick and still. There is the faint whiff of cigar smoke as one walks down the dirt roads coming off the main highway. People set up outside their homes, trailers or vehicles and talk.
We have walked and driven by on such occasions but never had the audacity to stop and introduce ourself — we don’t know how that would go. What could we say?
So the idea of attending the big yearly show is far more intimidating than driving or walking by friendly people enjoying the evening. That intimidation is entirely self-generated. It has nothing to do with the people, the surroundings, the culture or any action on their part.
It is all on us.
One day we’ll make it to Gibtown for the show. We hope.