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$10 Wins a Large: What Happened to Carnival Games? [OPINION]

Carnival Prizes
Michael Kappel/Flickr

I was able to get out the the fair and experience everything it had to offer this year. I decided to take my four year-old nephew out and let him ride some rides and play some carnival games, the things I looked forward to as a kid. Little did I know, carnival games have changed!

As we were walking through the carnival area, we rode a few rides and it was time to let my nephew play some games and for him to see how cool his uncle really was by breaking some bottles with a baseball, shooting out the star and shooting a basketball through an oval shaped rim.

Right away, I was confused. I saw a sign that said $5 wins a medium, 2 mediums win a large. I let my nephew play a fishing game, I asked the carnival worker, “How much does it cost to play?” The carnival worker replied, “Well, how big of a prize do you want?”

Needless to say, my nephew had his eyes set on a prize that was considered a “large,” so no matter how good or poorly he was at the game, if you paid $10 dollars to play, you played as many times until you meet the requirements for a large. I couldn’t believe that! You were paying money for these prizes.

I miss the carnival working saying “Step right up, one dollar for your chance to win a prize of your choice.” Today’s carnival games are mainly a time filler. I could have easily walked up to one of the workers, gave him $10 and he would have handed me a “large” prize.

Even if you spent more then $10 winning that “large” prize, you accomplished something: you finally defeated the pesky game. I blame it on today’s society, everyone must feel important and everyone now receives a participation medal. It’s unfortunate that carnival games haven’t changed, but the way you win them has. As a kid, I looked forward to winning the prize I was unable to win the year before and was excited to redeem myself.

My nephew already thinks he is a carnival game master. The sad part is that with enough money, anyone can be.

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