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Bibliography: Books: Carnivals and Carnival Games

This bibliography covers books which may be useful in researching theme parks, amusement parks, and related subjects. Some of these books are available from the publisher or your favorite bookstore, while others are out of print but may still possibly be obtained through a used book dealer or from your library (in stock or through interlibrary loan). When possible a link has been provided to where you may check availability and order the book directly.

Bone, Howard with Waldron, Daniel
Side Show: My Life With Geeks, Freaks, & Vagabonds in the Carny Trade. Northville, MI: Sun Dog Press. 2001. 137p. B&W Photo & Line Drawings. Ancedotal memoir of Howard Bone's career on carnivals and circuses as a side show magician, AT show fighter, etc..
Check availability at, or Amazon UK.

Boyer, Donna Raye
The Carnival Planning Guide. Houston, TX: Boyer Public Relations. 1974-2001. 50p. Line drawings. How to run a small scale carnival, including theme and games ideas. Not as much detail as the Espinosa book, but note that neither book spends much time on including carnival rides other than to suggest that the ride company handles the details.
Available From The Publisher.

Brown, Frances
Fairground Strollers and Showfolk. Taunton, England: Ronda Books. 2001. 191p. Many B&W Photos. A history of British fairground performers focusing on Henry Freeman-Biddall and his family and Freeman Biddall's Temples of Magic and Pepper's Ghost llusion Show.
Check availability at Amazon UK.

Espinosa, Rick
The Carnival Handbook. Los Angeles, CA: Century West Enterprises. 1994. v., 210p. Line drawings. The author has been chairman of a large school carnival and draws on that experience to explain, in detail, how their operation has been successful. Heavy on organizational issues and fund raising ideas.
Check availability at

Gowler, Danny
Carnival Games: How They Work And How To Win. (No location given): Danny Gowler. 1997. 82p. Photos and drawings. Strategies to win carny games. Includes actual size artwork to practice with.
Check availability at

Gryczan, Matthew
Carnival Secrets. Colorado Springs, CO: Piccadilly Books. 1993. 211p. B&W Photos. One of the most extensive of the how to win carnival games books.
Check availability at, or Amazon UK.

Lewis, Arthur H.
Carnival. NY: Trident Press. 1970. 315p. Explores the world of the traveling carnival and the vanishing live acts that once populated it.
Out of print.

McKennon, Joe.
A Pictorial History of the American Carnival. Sarasota, FL: Carnival Publishers of Sarasota. In three volumes: v.1 1972, 208p.; v.2. 1972, 192p. (v.1 & 2 usually seen bound together); v.3 1981, 240p. B&W Photos. Disjointed but valuable history of America's traveling carnivals by a man who was there. Includes photos, routes, family histories, glossary, and all sorts of material available nowhere else.
No availability through

Rhodes, Bill
Circus & Carnival Trucks: 1923 - 2000 Photo Archive. Hudson, WI: Iconografix. 2001. 126p. B&W Photos. Large format photos of all kinds of working trucks used by traveling shows, from old Mack AC4s to modern makes. Mostly circus trucks (spool trucks, tank trucks, human cannonball, etc.) with a few carnival rides.
Check availability at, or Amazon UK.

Richardson, Brian
The Secrets of Amusement Park Games... Revealed!. Houston, TX: Silver Star Publishing. 1999. 84p. Some B&W Photos. Small book with tips for playing some of the more popular carnival games. The author seems particularly fond of the milkcan toss.
Check availability at

Stencell, A.W.
Girl Show: Into the Canvas World of Bump and Grind. Toronto: ECW Press. 1999. 244p. B&W Photos (Warning: some nudity). The history of carnival girl shows from the oriental dancers of exposition midways in the 1800's through the heyday of strippers and the shows ultimate demise as competition off the lot increased in the 1970's.
Check availability at, or Amazon UK.

Weedon, Geoff and Ward, Richard
Fairground Art. London: White Mouse Editions. 1981. 312p. Many Color and B&W Photos. An absolutely beautiful photographic celebration and history of the art of the carnival, from the carousel to show banners to modern air-brush work. Many photos highlight artwork details and individual figures.
Check availability at Amazon UK.

See Also:

Bibliography: Park & Coaster Videos
Bibliography: Carousels/Rides
Links: Trade Associations
Links: Carnivals
Help: How To Find Hard To Find Books

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