Midway (fair)

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A game of popping balloons with darts for prizes - a common part of a carnival or fair midway

A midway at a fair (commonly an American fair such as a county or state fair) is the location where carnival games, amusement rides, entertainment, dime stores, themed events, exhibitions and trade shows, pleasure gardens, water parks and food booths cluster. The midway is located between the entrance and the big top of a circus; thus, a carnival is essentially a travelling midway.[1]


The term originated from the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois, in 1893. It was the first world's fair with an area for amusements which was strictly separated from the exhibition halls. This area, which was concentrated on the city's Midway Plaisance, included amusement rides (among them the original Ferris Wheel), belly dancers, balloon rides, concession stands, and other attractions.

After the Exposition, the term midway came into use as a common noun in the United States and Canada to refer to the area for amusements at a county or state fair, circus, festival, or amusement park.[2]


Attractions that have been found in midways throughout history include the following:[1]: 28 

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  1. ^ a b Nickell, Joe (2005). Secrets of the sideshows. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-7179-2. OCLC 65377460.
  2. ^ Midway. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 2 Aug 2012, from CollinsDictionary.com Web site: "a place in a fair, carnival, etc, where sideshows are located" http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/midway

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