The Coleman Brothers Shows Comes to Boonville

The Coleman Brothers Shows have brightened towns in the Northeast with it sparkling midway for over 100 years and will continue with this tradition in visiting the great Boonville Oneida County Fair. 

The Coleman family asks you to “Come and Unlock the Magic of Your Imagination,” “the midway where you will rediscover your imagination and where your children are sure to discover theirs.” The midway brings back memories to the many adults who have grown with the carnival throughout the years and the creation of new and exciting memories for the children of today.

Boonville Oneida County Fair Aerial View
Fair Rides

Coleman Brothers History

The founder of the business was Richard J. Coleman, who spun a broken-down merry-go-round into a 63-year career that became a million dollar success story died in 1978 at age 87. His carnival has survived into his family’s hands and its reputation as clean family entertainment is intact today.  It was 1916, when Dick Coleman found this worn-out steam-powered merry-go-round. The price tag was $250. This was a time when the carnival business had a cast of characters that included “Mickey Devine,” the boxer who took on all comers. “Bill Smith” the wrestler of local yokels. “Captain LaVallee,” who made fiery leaps of a hundred feet. “Waximo” the human pin cushion.

Dick Coleman didn’t have the money to buy the merry-go-round he just had the dream that he wanted to make real. But when he talked about the merry-go-round with Father Donovan, the pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church, “the priest saw the gleam in Dick’s eyes.” Pastor Donovan advanced the money to Dick without his having to ask him.

Dick and his brother, Thomas, took their merry-go-round to places like Deep River and Old Saybrook. But this earlier tour was a flop. That’s when Father Donovan requested putting the merry-go-round in a lot across the street from his church. Here was the first successful week for the show that one day would be fairly billed as “one of the America’s biggest and brightest carnivals.”

From its humble beginning, the show had grown to 45 amusement rides, but success never diluted Dick Coleman’s feelings for people, every week he set aside a day of free admission and refreshments for underprivileged children. In fact Coleman’s will bring back this tradition with weekly discount days for our soldiers serving around the world as well as their families.

The excitement of the Coleman Brothers Shows midway has remained for some five generations and still brings with it the trills and the feeling of true family entertainment. Today the show is managed by Robert Coleman Sr., his son Tim Coleman, his wife Arlene, daughter Mary Oakes and Son-in-Law Anthony Oakes. The Coleman’s show still remains as a family run business for the enjoyment of your family with brothers, sisters and grandchildren working in and around the carnival.

Safety First At Coleman Brothers

The Coleman’s have been very busy since February preparing the many semi tractor-trailers that bring their payload of exciting spectacles throughout the Northeast every year. There is more than meets the eye with the carnival; spending hundreds of thousands of dollars Coleman’s work diligently to make sure every ride does not only look beautiful but are operated in the safest of conditions. In fact Coleman’s have added a new safety awareness program themed “How Do You Measure Up?” This program will provide patrons with printed safety guidelines at each ticket box and audio announcements asking that patrons are part of the safety team and obey all guidelines found in and around the midway. 

Although the traveling carnival remains safer then any other “active participant” form of entertainment there is always room for improvement. Industry statistics have provided that the largest percentage of accidents occur on a midway due to patrons not obeying safety guidelines and we hope to expand the awareness for our patrons through this program by asking that you “Unlock The Magic of Your Imagination” while protecting yourself from avoidable accidents. This is not to say that we have not continued the tradition of adding some new exciting attractions that we are sure your going to love; adding to the ride line-up this year Coleman’s has new children’s rides, including a train and funhouse, and let us not forget the new spectacular ride called the “Ball of Fire”!

Tim Coleman, General Manager, who is responsible for the day in and day out operations of the business was found working on the lighted gate that welcomes each patron to the midway stated, “it’s hard work moving such a large operation but we want to make sure this year is better than ever for the people that come and visit us”, “adding it is a job that you love to perform each and every year, making the midway a place where both children and adults may get away from lives daily distractions and let their imagination go”.