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Carnival Workers Honored at 12th Annual "Carnie" Awards

SALEM, Mo. (DPI) - The greasy fingernails have been manicured, the "AC/DC Tour '89" T-shirts have been washed, and teeth are being brushed for the first time in months. It can only mean one thing: The Carnie Awards Ceremony is about to begin!

This year's event took place at the unused parking lot between Carl's Carpet Barn and Big Lots Discount Store. The attendees were awakened, brought from the semitrailer they've called home for the last seven months and paraded to the canvas tent pavilion for this year's ceremony. Celebrity-sightings included John Walsh of the TV show America's Most Wanted, apparently hoping to locate a few fugitives. The big winners of the evening were as follows:

"Sticky Fingers" Ronnie won for Best Skimming from the Ticket Booth Cash Drawer by offering to take over for the regular ticket-booth workers during their bathroom breaks, then pocketing all the cash from the tickets he sold and some from the drawer itself. Ronnie's ability to steal while allowing other workers to get blamed for it made him the clear favorite.

Gertie Underwood took the Least Nutritious Food award for her sugar-coated deep-fried doughy lard balls she calls "Heart-Stoppers." The judges loved it when Gertie would ask "Do you want vinegar or mustard on that?"

The always-popular Midway Games category had several winners. For Forcing A Boyfriend To Win A Stuffed Animal For His Sweetie, the award went to Emma Lou Stowe for convincing dozens of men they would "get some tonight" if they took home a stuffed Yosemite Sam.

For the Impossible-To-Win Game, Captain Kenny's "Pirate Ship Rope Climb" took the honors for the third year in a row. Complete with greased rungs, frayed ropes and electric shocks for anyone who gets "too close to the top," the Rope Climb has never had a winner, and Kenny has never had to give away any of the 5-foot tall stuffed Pink Panthers he displays.

This year's Bait-And-Switch award went to "Rip-Off Randy's" Ring Toss where players are lured in by walls filled with small, medium and large stuffed animals. The few players who win are expecting to get at least a small stuffed animal. But Rip-Off Randy reaches under the counter and hands the "winner" a plastic spider ring, with the promise that they can trade up to bigger prizes if they play again. Randy explains, "I invented the whole "trade-up" scam! Even if they win every time, they're still always giving me more money than the next prize is worth!"

Other "Carnie" Award winners included Ole "Duct-Tape" Darryl getting the Spare Parts award for putting the Ferris wheel together and still having 17 bolts left over.

The Scare The Crap Out Of A Kid award was given to Stanky Pete for telling children coming onto the Merry-Go-Round that his thumbs were bitten off by "haunted" horses on the ride.

As the ceremony ended, attendees had their hands stamped so they could re-enter to clean up after themselves and take down the tent. The post-awards dinner party included corndogs and homemade wine made from fermented candy apples. After passing out in their trailers, the carnival workers woke to find themselves in Bloomfield, Indiana for the Broccoli Festival. The trophies are secured in their duffel bags as another exciting season in the glamorous world of the carnival worker has begun. There's always room for new employees, so if you are a runaway, a substance abuser or illegal alien, someday you too might be the winner of the coveted "Carnie" award!

(Reported by Buddy Fisher)

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