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Carnival Career Pathway

February 04, 2013

The Amusement Industry Career Pathway

       Chris and Vicki Flattery, co-owners with Mrs. Flattery’s brother of the Ottaway Amusement Company, spoke to the seventh and eighth grade Career class at Onaga Grade School on January 23 about their family business. The Flattery's noted that their product is the service of selling “fun” to people on a very clean and safe Midway.  They pride themselves in quality entertainment for families.  They view the places they go to as their partners, and, as such, have developed many good friendships throughout the Midwest when touring with the carnival.  The season is from April  through October.  During the non-touring season, time is spent in maintenance of equipment, purchasing for the upcoming season, compiling contracts for the approximate 30 locations they will be at during the upcoming season.  Mr. Flattery oversees the accounting of the carnival while Mrs. Flattery’s brother oversees the mechanics and maintenance of equipment.  

        Vicki’s grand-father started the business in 1944 with miniature steam engines.  Since then the Amusement Company has grown to include 18 high-tech rides, 25 games, and two food concessions.  Last summer, the “signature” Ferris wheel ride was significantly damaged by the Wichita tornado.  Rather than purchase a new ride for $1.1 million, it was decided to repair the Ferris wheel at a cost of approximately $700,000, Vicki noted that $56,000 of this was state taxes.  The students learned that there are not only expenses in repair and maintenance of the rides but also of the fuel costs (approximately $6000 a week for the 35 vehicles and 2 generators to run rides), wages, supplies, licenses and other required paperwork for specific locations, and liability insurance.

       All full-time employees must possess a valid drivers license and get a CDL license as each one must be able to drive a Peterbilt truck from one site to another.   Mrs. Flattery noted, “driving is very important to us.”  Each location trusts that the carnival will be set up in time for an opening night.   All employees are expected to multi-task on the job.  The working day is generally evening hours; however, each person is in charge of a particular ride or activity on the Midway.  During the day they must make sure it is ready for the evening hours.  All employees are expected to help set up and tear down all the carnival equipment.   Carnival workers work seven days a week for seven straight months, often long hours.  Since the success of the carnival is dependent upon reliable, hard-working employees with problem-solving abilities, the Flattery's have found it helpful to hire workers from South Africa.  At each carnival site, local workers will be hired to run rides, etc. to supplement the full-time work force of 35 employees.

       Chris and Vicki are proud that their daughters, Laney and Carly, and their husbands have joined in the carnival business and the legacy of the Ottaway Amusement Company.  Laney is in charge of transportation and payroll.  Log books must be kept on all trucks.  Different states have different regulations on the types of log books and permits required.  Part of her work includes working with drug testing of employees.  Ottaway Amusements is in a consortium for random drug-testing.   An interesting fact about daughter Carly is that she is in charge of the cotton candy.  The Flatterys brought in the 907 Best Choice labels from the sugar they purchased for one season to be used in cotton candy and snow cone syrup.  Each label represented four pounds.  Carly also manages the travel for the South Africans to and from the United States for each season.  

       Perhaps the carnival is not the career pathway for many of the students; however, most of the students will enjoy the fun of Ottaway Carnival coming to Wamego each 4th of July.  With this background knowledge of the inner workings of the carnival, one gains a greater appreciation of their product – Fun!


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