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Tuesday, August 2, 2005 5:19:05 AM
from today's Tennessean:
Carnival owner revels in work

Family-style operation bringing merriment to Sumner County Fair

The (Gallatin) News Examiner

Excitement was building Sunday afternoon as a team of men went about the construction of Myers International Midway Shows at the Sumner County Fair.

The group had finished their show around midnight at the Southern Kentucky Fair in Bowling Green on Saturday, packed up the rides, games and food and drove to Gallatin yesterday to prepare for the next show.

Earlier in the day, their lines of trucks and travel trailers lined the field next to the fairgrounds as the weary workers tried to catch some sleep, and then it was back to work Sunday afternoon.

Sitting in her air-conditioned travel home overseeing the construction of the rides and other attractions was the owner of Myers Shows, Gloria Myers.

"My husband and I started out with just a few rides and games about 40 years ago and now my son and I own the business," she said while holding her little dog, Hollie."It's just like any other business, but we have a portable office with computers and we change towns almost every day," Myers said with a laugh.

"We are all like a family. Many of us have been together for years and even now have our second generation traveling with us," she said.

"In the winter, we all go home to Florida with most of us living in Gibsonton, near Tampa.

"Some people say we have things backwards. We travel in our RVs to Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia for the summer and go home to our houses in Florida in the winter."

Little Jacquelyn Starkey, who is almost 6 years old, cuddled up to Nana Myers, as almost everyone calls her. She loves traveling with the show, but it is the only life she has known.

Jacquelyn is a true family member of the show. Her father, Dennis Starkey, works with the rides and games, her mother was born on the show, as was Jacquelyn, and she now has an 18-month-old brother, Myers said.

The little girl will be going back to Florida in a few weeks with Myers to start kindergarten. She will join Myers' five grandchildren, who will be staying together to go to school in Riverview, Fla.

"I can't leave until the last big show in Union City is over where we combine the whole operation and then I can go home to Florida," Myers said.

It's the big shows that bring she and her son together.

"I have about half the show with me, which includes about 18 rides, 30 games, half a dozen food places," she said.

"We get together four or five times a year in Union City, Dyersburg, Panama City and Cocoa Beach, Fla. He is in Mt. Sterling, Ky. at this time," she said.

"We are truly a family. There is about 100 of us who travel together and love being together."

She's seen some changes in customers' tastes over the years

"People love the more thrilling rides today like the Power Surge and Himalayan rides that take you up high and drop you or fling you around. I guess I should be glad that there is a whole new generation coming along who love to ride the fast rides, but I still love the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel," she said.

"Not me, I love the fast rides," said Jacquelyn.

The 60th annual Sumner County Fair began yesterday at the fairgrounds in Gallatin.