In 1928, Art B. Thomas opened a carnival in South Dakota in the hopes of luring locals with wholesome family fun and exciting spectacle. As the carnival’s popularity grew, so did its vagabond spirit, now touring across 10 states with a caravan of 50 rides, 50 games, and 15 food concessions.
Though the fourth-generation family members now running The Thomas Carnival work to retain the festive, family-centered ambiance of the original show, they aren’t afraid to complement their classic staples with more modern attractions. Near the vintage Ferris wheel, which follows the same grandiose climb and ascent as the original model built for the 1893 World’s Fair, stands the fast-paced bumper cars and a tilting and twirling spider ride decked out in futuristic green LED lights. Regardless of the era they evoke, all rides are kept in safe working condition by traveling maintenance crews and inextinguishable magic spells. Since 2004, the carnival has held a spot in the Circle of Excellence on its OABA quality assessment.