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Traveling through spring and summer, Fiesta rarely takes a siesta

Vicki Bryant, from Salisbury, Mass., and office manager for Fiesta Shows, poses for a portrait at the fair offices of the Hopkinton State Fair on Thursday afternoon, August 29, 2013. Bryant has worked with the company for 21 years, 8 years as office manager and said she travels from location to location throughout the season from March through October.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Vicki Bryant, from Salisbury, Mass., and office manager for Fiesta Shows, poses for a portrait at the fair offices of the Hopkinton State Fair on Thursday afternoon, August 29, 2013. Bryant has worked with the company for 21 years, 8 years as office manager and said she travels from location to location throughout the season from March through October. (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

If the show must go on, fairs and festivals in New England often call Fiesta Shows, a family-owned business that has been providing carnival rides and food vendors for nearly 90 years.

And Fiesta has a working relationship with the Hopkinton State Fair, which finishes its annual five-day run today.

Based in Seabrook, the company begins and ends its annual tour in Massachusetts, opening with the Revere Spring Carnival in March and closing with the monthlong Haunted Happenings event in Salem.

In between, Fiesta visits more than 50 communities each year and stages five major fairs in New Hampshire, as well as traveling to Maine and Connecticut each summer.

About 40 rides were trucked to Hopkinton this weekend, with each having to pass a safety inspection by a state official. Fiesta actually spends money to make money by paying the Hopkinton State Fair Association, a nonprofit organization, for the right to use the town’s land.

The investment has paid off for decades.

Vicki Bryant, the office manager for one of Fiesta’s two units that travels around the region, worked in a narrow trailer this weekend, coordinating the entire effort. She’s been working for Fiesta for 21 years, and she took a break to explain her operation.

What do you do here?

All vendors check in through us. I get everyone set up with what they need to do, the who, the what, the where and the when. I make IDs for people to get in and out of the gate, and through that we run background checks on every vendor that comes in. We have to take care of garbage cleanup, make sure we have toilets and worry about the fire department detail, police department detail. I’m responsible to have those people check in with me every place we go.

Are the vendors affiliated with Fiesta?

They’re all independent except for a few of the food stands we own. But the rides are all owned by us. There’s another gentleman who comes in who books some rides, but generally it’s all Fiesta Shows.

Is the business profitable?

We’ve been up and down. I own one of my own games, and it’s an up-and-down process. It depends on where you go.

A lot of times people don’t have money to spend on games, or they’re just going to eat or ride the rides. I see that with a lot of families.

What goes on here early in the week?

We got here (last) Monday, and on Tuesday by 5 (p.m.), three-quarters of the show was up. By Wednesday we’re checking rides, making sure we’re ready.

Besides ride safety, are there other regulations you must follow?

Any spot we go to, all the food stands are checked. There’s always the board of health in every spot, and every food stand is independently checked. It’s not short, sweet and simple anymore. There are a lot of things we have to follow through on to make sure we’re covering everything.

Where do you sleep?

I have a trailer on the grounds, so I sleep here.

Assuming you have children, do they travel with you?

My daughter is only 19, so she’s always been out here with me at the fair. When she starts school, she’s in school, but she travels to different fairs with me all the time and lives with me in my house trailer.

You open in March in Revere? Brrr.

Not only that, but sometimes we get snow but believe it or not, people come out, and I’m dead serious.

Is this one of your bigger fairs?

A lot of times during spring it’s a smaller venue, but this of course is Labor Day, and we try to put on the biggest show that we can, with all the major rides to try to please people. In New Hampshire, we do a lot of southern fairs and also go up to North Haverhill, right up on the Vermont border. And then we leave there and go to Swanzey for the Cheshire Fair.

Do you like your job?

I love my job. I like being with people, and I’d like to think that I’m a likable person. At least most of the time.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@
cmonitor.com
or on Twitter
@rayduckler
.)

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