Life is a Carnival for Richard Stewart
"I used to work for a small outfit in the neighborhood with kiddie rides," Stewart recalled. "I grew up in Greenwich and worked for a guy. In the '60's, I bought a ride and another ... and it got out of hand."
He eventually started Stewart Amusement, now based at 900 Main Street in Monroe. The company provides amusement rides for non-profits, fire companies, civic groups and churches.
Stewart Amusements always does Easton's carnival, as well as the Monroe Fire Department's Carnival and St. Jude Church's Italian Festival in the area. It had also provided rides for Trumbull Day for years.
"We don't go far. We stay in Fairfield and Westchester counties," Stewart said, adding his company also does some events in New Haven and Putnam counties."
"We do about 27 carnivals a year," he said. "We used to do two-a-week. Now we do one."
Stewart said the demand for carnivals lasts for about six-and-a-half months out of the year."
"It's a seasonal business," he said. "My wife is a retired school teacher and we can travel in the wintertime."
Stewart and Lynn, his wife of 36 years, have two sons, Brian, 31, and Kevin, 27. Both work in the family business.
Rides set up on the green at Center Road include the Super Slide, the Tornado and the Cobra. Some of the rides have been with Stewart for a long time.
"I bought the ride the children call 'the monkey cages' in 1972," Stewart said of the giant wheel with spinning cages for riders.
He added that the Ali Baba was manufactured in England.
When asked what he likes best about the business, Stewart said, "You're in a different location every week. You're always doing something different. It's colorful. You're never bored."