Hold onto your hat, Juneau — and maybe grab a barf bag, too.
The Sizzler, Cliff Hanger, Tornado, Zipper and other carnival rides are all coming to the Nugget Mall parking lot this and next week as part of Golden Wheel Amusements’ summer city fair tour in Southeast Alaska.
What’s the Sizzler like, you might wonder?
“Think of a giant mixer, and you’re in one of the beaters,” Joanna Maus, the company’s office manager, said in a phone interview.
The Chugiak-based traveling carnival company, which is the same company that provides rides for the Fur Rondy Festival in Anchorage and the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, will be in Juneau from May 1 to May 11.
It will be the first time a carnival — replete with cotton candy and funnel cake food stands — has come to the capital city in some 15 or 20 years, according to Empire archives.
Golden Wheel Amusements, which bills itself as being the only carnival in Alaska, last came to Southeast in the 1980s. Maus said that’s likely because of the time and cost involved in traveling from Chugiak, north of Anchorage.
“We decided we wanted to revisit Southeast,” Maus said. “The owners are trying something new. We worked a deal out with the Marine Highway and just went forward from there.”
Carnival owners Joe and Jacqueline Leavitt and 30 to 40 carnival employees began their two-and-half day long voyage from Whittier (the closest port to drive out of in that area) to Juneau on Sunday aboard the ferry M/V Kennicott, where the disassembled rides are tucked below deck. They’ll begin setting up in the parking lot on Wednesday, and gates will open Thursday.
The carnival will feature vertigo- and scream-inducing wild rides, but there will also be games and rides that are kid-friendly. Maus said there will be traditional fairway carnival games and activities, such as face painting, inflatable slides, bouncy houses, duck ponds and a house of mirrors.
“We’re big on having family fun, a safe family fun place,” Maus said. “I know we’re bringing five different bouncy houses. Those are a little bit easier to pack in there (on the ferry), so we brought as many as we can bring and one other kid ride.”
Admission is free. Tickets for the rides cost $1 each, and each ride costs between three and six tickets.
City officials say they are working with carnival employees to obtain the proper permitting before the fair is up and running, including a conditional use permit to use the space and an open flame permit.
City and Borough of Juneau permit specialist Eddie Quinto said the fair will take up most of the parking lot, and will be situated between the mall, Wee Fishie Shoppe and Subway.
The fire marshal will conduct walkthroughs and safety inspections once the rides are in place, Quinto said. He will also ensure there are safe entries and exits, and that the heat sources (such as the propane heat used for the deep fryer) pass muster.
Maus said after the carnival packs up to leave, the crew will continue on to Sitka and then Ketchikan for the summer city tour. They will be in Sitka from May 16 to 18, and in Ketchikan from May 22 to May 25. Then it’s back north to Kenai and Anchorage.
“It’s kind of exciting to be revisiting that area again,” Maus said of the Southeast swing. “We’re hoping it’s really big. The more, the merrier.”
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.