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In their own words: Sam Johnston


By Ron Weber

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In the next installment of our Industry Pioneers segment, we interview Sam Johnston of Midway of Fun.


Sam Johnston started as a young boy working for his parents who operated a small amusement business in the 1950's. His involvement in the amusement business continued through his college years at Sacramento State when he majored in business administration. After college, Sam joined the Army and served in Vietnam with the Army Corp. of Engineers. At his discharge, he had attained the rank of First Lieutenant and was ready to resume his position with his family's carnival business, Johnston's Amusements. During these years, Sam and his wife Gail traveled with Johnston's Amusements, running nearly every aspect of the show. When his father passed away in 1978, Sam kept the dream alive, booking a handful of rides from the former Johnston's Amusements with several larger west coast carnivals. A short time later, his new endeavor became Sam Johnston's Midway of Fun, which he owned and operated until 2002.


Since 1984, Sam has been the owner of Funderland Amusement Park in Sacramento, California.  Throughout the years, Sam has owned and operated several other small amusement parks such as Pixieland and Funderwood Parks.  In 2007, Sam decided to retire and sold Pixieland and Funderwood, but decided to retain Funderland.


Some of his past accomplishments include serving as President of the prestigious Outdoor Amusement Business Association in 1999, a past Board member of the Western Fairs Association and one of the few carnival operators to be nominated to the Western Fairs Association Hall of Fame in 1996, President of the Showmen's League of America in 2002 and again this year (Interestingly enough the Showmen's League was established by Buffalo Bill Cody), and President of the Showfolks of America in 1984. He has also been the guest speaker in fair management classes at California Polytechnic University.classes at California Polytechnic University.


MCW Video Interview with Sam Johnston:


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