The story of the audacious carnie who built the greatest carnival dynasty in North America.
Enter the realm of the Carnie King, Patty Conklin, the flamboyant founder of the world’s largest carnival company. Starting as a small-time operator who was willing to try anything to promote his show, Conklin transformed himself into a carnie celebrity — and he was the main attraction. Winning the midway contract for the Canadian National Exhibition in 1937, he made it his personal world’s fair and laid the foundation for his son and grandson to expand Conklin Shows, playing the biggest fairs and exhibitions in North America.
Not only a history of Conklin Shows, Carnie King explores the inner working of midways, providing a fascinating story based off scores of interviews with carnies and access to the Conklin archives. The resulting history is at once a startling, nostalgic look at a unique part of twentieth-century North American culture and a vivid account of three generations of showmen and their dominance of midways across the continent.