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Crafters move out, carnival moves in

August 27, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

WILLIAMSPORT - As the sun went down Sunday, the sky at Byron Memorial Park was filled with white plastic tarps.

On the west side of the park, the tarps were being wrestled from their metal frame supports, spread and folded to be loaded into vans and trailers along with the tissue box covers, magnets, coasters, dish towels, Christmas tree ornaments and other remnants of the weekend's Williamsport Days craft fair.

On the east side, they were being unloaded from trucks and spread on the ground where they will become game booths and picnic areas for a carnival scheduled to begin tonight.

It's a dance of loading and unloading that both the craft vendors and the carnival workers say they've been through so many times they could do it in their sleep.

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Which is a good thing in the case of the carnival workers, because many of them were operating without any. The crew from Synder's Amusements finished tearing down their equipment in the rain at the South Mountain Fair Grounds in Arendtsville, Pa., at about 5 a.m., drove an hour to Williamsport and began setting it all back up, said Tammy Snyder, 46, of Greencastle, Pa., who owns the company with her husband, Donnie.

"Some people just can't do it," Snyder said. "People don't realize how hard we really work. It's not just a thing where you can push a button and up in the air it goes."

Snyder has worked with the carnival for 33 years, ever since she got a job making cotton candy when the carnival came to her hometown of Sharpsburg when she was 13.

"I got to eat candy and ride rides and make some money and all the good stuff that every kid wants," she said. "It was like a dream come true."

Two years later, the carnival's owners asked if she wanted to work at the carnival all summer and, after some persuasion, her parents agreed. Three years later, when she graduated from high school, she married Donnie, whose parents ran the carnival.

Snyder still works at the cotton candy booth as the carnival travels around Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia from April 1 to Sept. 30.

Over on the east side of the park, the story isn't so different.

"Well, that's about it," a vendor called out to Patsy DeHaven of Halfway as she loads "Ma & Pa Creation" crafts into boxes. They'll stay in a trailer until Maugansville Pride Days next Saturday. She waved. "I guess I'll see you guys next year."

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