Sideshow veteran to keep rolling up to Caroline Bay Carnival

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

Wayne and Mark Sturgeon load the tea cup ride onto a truck on Wednesday ready for their next show in Winton after the end of the Caroline Bay Carnival season.

The continuing smiles on children’s faces will bring sideshow veteran Wayne Sturgeon back to the next Caroline Bay Carnival.

The 64-year-old was five when his father bought his first Ferris wheel, and he has been coming to the annual Timaru event with a selection of rides and food since the 1980s.

Sturgeon’s company, Sturgeon Entertainments, operated Ferrari cars, a cup and saucer ride, a round-up ride and a food van, which required five trucks and five trailers to be loaded and prepared.

While compliance costs were irksome and “a mathematical nightmare” required to transport everything could be frustrating, Sturgeon said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

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He planned to keep hitting the road and to return for next year’s carnival.

”I think it’s magic, I’m glad to be part of it.”

It was a lifestyle he was well-used to.

“My grandfather started out in 1942 with a merry-go-round at Motueka. He was a bootmaker by trade and my father had a go at anything.

“For years I was part-time but the last 30 years, it’s got out of hand.”

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

Mark Sturgeon loads the tea cup ride onto a truck ready for Sturgeon Entertainment’s next show in Winton after the finish of the Caroline Bay Carnival season.

Throughout the carnival, most sideshow operators slept in caravans at the Bay, but he didn’t have quite the same comfort.

“I slept in the cab of one of his trucks. It’s been my bedroom for three to four months of the year and I’m wider than the cab,” he joked.

At the end of the carnival, Sturgeon and his son Mark, 42, and staff were packing up trucks and trailers on Wednesday preparing to hit the road to an A & P show in Winton.

He has noticed that “people are a lot happier now after lockdown.

”We’re lucky here in New Zealand that we can do what we can.”

The Sturgeons noticed greater numbers from Christchurch and Dunedin in Timaru for the latest carnival along with some from their hometown, Motueka.

“Three van loads of people travelled up from Dunedin and the guy said he left seven more at home that he could have brought,” Mark Sturgeon said.

And the carnival still continued to attract its faithful supporters every year, according to Wayne Sturgeon.

“There’s a [woman] from Ashburton. She and her three kids come every year. They’re as happy as crickets.”

Wayne Sturgeon praised the work of the Caroline Bay Association saying it wasn’t easy with so many volunteers needed to help out, as well as the Timaru District Council for their work developing the Bay.

“I’ve been coming here since the 1980s. The area here is beautiful now; it used to be pretty rough with lupins. The council has done a good job.”

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