Allamakee County Fair Board navigates the ups and downs of unexpected change in carnival offerings for this year’s fair

Coming to the Allamakee County Fair next week ... Pictured in the three surrounding photos are just some of the carnival attractions that will make up the midway for the 165th Allamakee County Fair July 18-22 in Waukon. After owners of the previous carnival that had been booked by the Allamakee, Clayton and Fayette County Fairs late last year for their 2018 events notified all three in an email just shy of a month ago they were going out of business, all three fair boards were left to quickly find replacement carnival attractions. Pictured clockwise from left, Full Court Press, the Screamer 22-Foot Double Slide and the Boot Camp Challenge are just three of more than a half dozen Kid Again Inflatables that will provide this year’s carnival entertainment with something for all ages free of charge to all fairgoers. Submitted photos.

Carnival attractions offered free of charge this year

Carnival rides and attractions are often associated with fair time, and the Allamakee County Fair Board has been riding a bit of a rollercoaster of its own the past few weeks in trying to solidify that carnival fun for the 165th Allamakee County Fair coming up July 18-22 in Waukon.

Since the early part of this year, members of the fair board were excited to have found a new carnival that would offer a fresh variety of rides, games and food to fair-goers in 2018. With the close proximity in location and dates of the county fairs in Allamakee, Fayette and Clayton counties in northeast Iowa, leaders of those respective fair boards had embarked on a mission to work together to find a carnival that could serve all three venues in late July through early August of this year.

Sweet Fun Carnival, Inc. out of Missouri was present at the annual Association of Iowa Fairs Conference in December of last year and offered such an opportunity. After much discussion, research and collaboration, Sweet Fun Carnival was booked to serve all three fair venues in 2018.

“Shortly after the 2017 fair, board members from Allamakee, Clayton and Fayette counties discussed the options of finding a new carnival,” Allamakee County Fair Board leadership explained. “Since the three fairs are each one week apart, it was an easy decision to partner together to find a carnival that would play at our three fairs. We explored many options and ultimately decided on a young carnival at our state convention in Des Moines. They were eager to work with us, and us with them.”

Excited with the anticipation of a fresh carnival offering, and further enthused by the fact that this year’s carnival offering would be offered at no charge to fair-goers, that excited climb to the top of that rollercoaster peak suddenly took a plunge downward within this past month, as the owners of Sweet Fun Carnival, Inc. relayed in a June 11 email that their operation was going out of business due to “unforeseen insurmountable business and personal problems.” That closing of business impacted both the Clayton County and Fayette County fairs, in addition to Allamakee County, leaving all three fair boards scrambling for carnival entertainment just four to six weeks prior to their respective fairs.

Continued negotiations with Sweet Fun Carnival and a renewed search for alternative carnival entertainment possibilities occurred simultaneously over the latter portion of June for all three boards, involving numerous phone calls, emails and other correspondence. The decision was ultimately reached by all three fair boards to part ways with Sweet Fun Carnival and pursue other possibilities.

The alternative landed by Allamakee County Fair Board officials for carnival entertainment for the 2018 Allamakee County Fair, within just a couple weeks of the event, is a company that has a higher degree of area familiarity while offering a variety of fun entertainment and activity options for all ages. Kid Again Inflatables out of La Crosse, WI will be providing a handful of its “portable playground for adults and kids” at this year’s fair.

“We had looked at Kid Again Inflatables a year ago as a way to enhance our fair activities,” fair board officials remarked. “We followed up with them and are extremely happy with their professionalism thus far.”

Kid Again Inflatables may be familiar to area residents, as some of their activities have been available at other area celebrations. Waukon High School Prom and Lansing Fish Days are just a couple of recent events that have featured Kid Again Inflatable activities, providing further evidence of the company’s versatility in entertaining all ages.

Beginning Thursday, July 19 at 4 p.m., the following Kid Again Inflatable activities will be available at the Allamakee County Fair:

• Boot Camp Challenge Obstacle Course - Participants can challenge their skills and their opponents on this military-style obstacle course that includes crawling, scaling and maybe even leaping through or over obstacles, along with a rope swing, all in an effort to reach the 20-foot slide to victory.

• Screamer 22-foot Double Slide - This slide is fast and at 22 feet tall, it is pitched at 40 degrees with twin slides for twice the fun.

• Butterbean Boxing - Opponents duel each other inside a padded boxing ring with a trampoline-like floor, using oversized boxing gloves. Spectators can view matches easily through the protective netting surrounding the ring.

• Full Court Press - Each player tries to make their unique colored basketballs into their regulation height hoop, to automatically dump them into their opponent’s court. Players try and return all of their opponent’s basketballs by shooting them back through their own hoop.

• Tiger Bouncer - Kids will have a blast bouncing on the belly of the smiling tiger.

• Radar Speed Check - Test arm speed with this inflatable cage and radar gun. The backdrop has a catcher’s mitt target and the radar gun will display how fast the baseball is thrown.

Friday through Sunday, the first four of those listed activities above will remain as part of the carnival activities. However, the Radar Speed Check and Tiger Bouncer will be replaced by the following:

• Zip Line - Climb up the inflated staircase, grab the handlebar and experience the thrill of zooming down the 80-foot cable zip line, falling onto the soft inflatable mattress at the other end.

• Carousel Bouncer - The merry-go-round is the centerpiece of all carnivals, with loads of bouncing fun inside this depiction of every fair favorite.

Those carnival activities will be available beginning at 4 p.m. both Friday and Saturday evenings, and again from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 22. In addition to those daily activities that are being offered free of charge this year, a Mechanical Bull will be available to ride both Friday and Saturday night, from 6 p.m. to midnight for a $5 fee. For additional information, photos or videos of the Kid Again Inflatables available at this year’s Allamakee County Fair, visit

In addition to carnival entertainment, additional contacts have also been made to provide some of the traditional fair food favorites, as well as some new cuisines. Corn dogs and funnel cakes will be just some of the more conventional fair food offerings available, with edible cookie dough, rolled ice cream and gyros also coming to the Allamakee County Fair this year.

Having made their way through the ups and downs of the past month in working to find new carnival entertainment for this year’s fair, members of the Allamakee County Fair Board appreciate the support and understanding offered to them during this sudden, unexpected change.

“Although this change has been exceptionally challenging, we are truly excited about what has come together for the 2018 fair,” Fair Board officials shared. “We will be honoring our commitment to free carnival events at the fair this year.”

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