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The Carnival

Kenny Stallard

     The American Legion Carnival to any kid in Kingsport in the late 1940ís and early 1950ís was a highly anticipitated event.  Rides, games, hot dogs, cotton candy and the Frank & Mack Show.

     When we were first old enough to remember going to the carnival, it was held on the east side block of Broad and Center Street.  The Frank & Mack Show tent was across Broad Street on the west side block.  Early carnivals were held in September and October but were moved to the week preceding the 4th of July in 1936. 

     When J. C. Penny built on this location, the carnival was moved to the block on Center Street between Clay Street on the east side and Revere Street on the west side, where the downtown Post Office building is now.  The carnival resided here until the Post Office was built, then moved to the east side parking lot between the Civic Auditorium and J. Fred Johnson Stadium in 1956 where it remained until 1967 when it relocated to Stone Drive, near Mason & Dixon Terminal, when construction began on the new Dobyns-Bennett High School facilities.  The carnival would run for a week or so before the 4th of July, closing down after the 4th of July celebrations.

     The American Legion owned most of itís own rides.  The rides were stored in the round building that was located where Eastman Recreation Building now stands.  This building was the only building at the time that was left from the Federal Chemical and Dye Stuff complex that operated in early Kingsport, closing in 1922.  An old story that my Papaw liked to tell about the round building was, that it was built during WWI, when Federal Chemical and Dye Stuff was aiding in the production of explosives for the war effort.  The building was constructed as a round structure with a conical roof.  The reasoning was that if the Germans came over and bombed the building, the bombs would slide harmlessly off.  A nice fairy tale!!

     The rides we came to know over the years started with the standard carousel or hobby-horse for young kids and on to tilta-whirl, octopus, swings and a Ferris wheel.

     Games were fishing, where you hooked a fish floating by.  The fish had a number affixed to the bottom which would identify the toy you would win.  There were hoop tosses, coin tosses, baseball tosses, basketball shooting and target shooting with 22-short rifles.  The more difficult the game the greater the prize; toys cars and trucks, celluloid cupi-dolls,  stuffed animals and various glassware.

     You could stuff yourself with popcorn, candy, ice cream cones, soda pop, and cotton candy.

 Following are photos from The City of Kingsport Archives
and early newspaper articles from Kingsport Times 

1936
1947

Frank And Mack To Stage Big Carnival Show

     For the eighth consecutive year, Frank and Mack, Kingsport comedy team, bring their "greatest show on earth" to the American Legion Carnival, opening Thursday at 7:00 p.m., at the carnival grounds on Broad street.

     Mack, the red-headed problem child who has been stationed for

two and a half years at Fort Storey, Va., will bring talent for the 1943 show from the Trouper's Club at Norfolk, Va,, source of U.S.O. show talent in that vicinity.

     Cpl. Riddle, through the efforts of the American Legion here, was given a furlough to help put on the show.

     Frank Taylor, the other half of the comedy team, said Wednesday he expected this year's show to be the best ever staged for an American Legion Carnival.  Fifteen troupers including a band, singers and the dancers, will be included in the Show. 

     Frank and Mack show first gained recogination in 1936 when it toured Wilby-Kincy theaters in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.  For 18 Saturday nights it ran at the Strand Theater, billed as the Country Store.

Kingsport Times Ė July 23, 1943

LEGION DECIDES CARNIVAL DATE

Street Carnival Will Be Staged 
October 13 to 19,Inclusive

    It was decided by the American Legion at its regular bi-monthly meeting yesterday evening in the Legion Club Room at the municipal building to hold a street carnival from October 13 through October 19. Plans for this affair have been underway for some time, but no definite decision was made until last evening.  C. P. Edwards is general chairman of the affair.

     The place of the carnival has not been announced, but it will in all probability be on one of the main streets of the city. The money realized from the carnival will go for Legion work.

     Several other business matters were disposed of during the session.

Kingsport Times, September 17, 1929  

LEGION CARNIVAL GRANTED CENTER STREET FOR USE

Board of Mayor and Aldermen Give Official Sanction to plans of Legion For Street Affair

     The Board of Mayor and Aldermen last evening granted the American Legion permission to use Center Street from Broad to Shelby streets for the Legion carnival which will be held in October. Plans for this carnival are now underway.

     C. P. Edwards is general chairman of the carnival committee. Several Legionnaires are assisting Mr. Edwards in laying plans for the affair.

     This carnival promises to be one of the best features that the American Legion has offered in the way of entertainment.  Splendid features will be in store for the public. The carnival will be conducted similar to the road carnivals, with admission to the grounds being free. The feature booths will charge an admission fee.

Kingsport Times, September 18, 1929

 

MORE THAN 35,000 EXPECTED FOR 4TH OF JULY CARNIVAL

Festivities Will Begin Early Saturday Morning and Continue Throughout the Day; Many Features

     Combining business houses, civic organizations and industrial plants in order to give Kingsport its greatest July 4th celebration in history, officials of the entertainment committee announced today that more than 35000 persons are expected to come here to take part in the event.   Preparations to take care of the enormous throng from Eastern Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee are nearing completion it was said.

     Festivities will begin early Saturday morning and continue throughout the day with more than $1,000 in prizes to be awarded.

     As a special inducement to people living outside the city, bus and railroad companies are offering reduced round trip fares in order that they may attend the fete.

     One of the highlights of the day will be a parade more than one mile in length with numerous beautifully decorated floats to be entered by Kingsport's industrial plants.  Merchants of the city will not enter floats, but arrangements have been made for 15 "character headsĒ, complete with costumes, to be in the parade.


     The giant heads are designed to add the finishing touch to a successful parade. They are a new, laugh provoking creation and portray characters of story book fame.

     Another feature of the celebration is the pony show, with prizes to be awarded the best boy and girl rider respectively and also a blue ribbon for the best pony. Youngsters who have already entered the contest are: Harold Birdwell, Tommie Nelms, Jack Crawford, Chuck Gilmer and Dickie Brockman.

     Twelve entries have been received for the horse show with prizes to be awarded.

     Devoting much time to preparations for the gigantic parade, Bill Huber said today that the reviewing stand had been completed and that the judges stand would be finished by Friday.

     Members of church circles and other organizations will build lunch and soft drink stands along Broad street.

     Officials said today that a request to block Broad Street Saturday night from Market street, north to New Street and from Center street east to the Alley behind First National Bank.  Arrangements are being made to hold a street dance in the intersection of Broad and Center Streets on Saturday night.  Several string orchestras, using a loud speaker system will be engaged.

     The Chevrolet sedan will be given away to the holder of the lucky ticket at this point at 6 p. m.

     At 1 p. m. and continuing until 4 p. m., Major Montell will conduct his special amateur program.  Amateurs who play musical instruments, sing, dance or entertain in any way are eligible to enter the contest.

Kingsport Times, July 28, 1936

 

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