Carnival Games History

Carnivals have been around for a long time. There’s a mention of them as far back as the Renaissance period. Carnivals as we know them, were started in the 1800s in the US. What one can expect to see at such an event are amusement rides, card tricks, magic shows, vaudeville acts involving people and animals, food and merchandise.

Why Carnival Games became popular:

Traveling Carnivals offered games as a mode of entertainment too.   Visitors are enticed into trying their skill at different games and win prizes.  No one is sure exactly how and when prizes were handed out but they are a big draw for the young and old alike.

Some of the prizes on offer are stuffed toys, free meal coupons and posters.  The most in demand prizes are stuffed toys which cannot be found anywhere else.

How to play:

Those who want to play have to pay a fee set by booth operator. The players then get a set number of chances to win, for which they get a gift.  Often, players are encouraged to keep playing so that they can trade in small prizes for the big one. 

Games one can play:

Games of chance: These are by far the favorite.  Due to the randomness of the outcomes, all players stand a good chance of winning a prize. There are many variations on the theme like Fish Bowl, Ping Pong Ball and Duck Pond.

Games of skill: These are popular too and players are tested on their ability to hit a target. Balls or weapons are used to shoot at targets.  Some of the skill games can challenge the physical ability of a player.

Games to expect:

  • Ring the Bell
  • Bingo
  • Target shooting
  • Whack a mole
  • Balloons and Darts
  • Bucket Toss
  • Kissing Booth

Cautionary Advice:

Most games at carnivals are run by honest people and are not rigged. This is done to make extra money from unsuspecting customers.  In the past, the odds were against participants. Some may have gotten cheated too – but on the flip side, some games are difficult to win due to the equipment used.  Law enforcement officials usually keep an eye and make sure that rigging doesn’t happen by testing games and equipment beforehand.

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