In honor of the Fair starting this week I thought I would go down memory lane and tell the story about the time I was banned from the Midway for winning too much.

You know everybody says games at fairs and amusement parks are rigged? Well, they basically are. Like a casino, the games are skewed in the house’s favor.  Unless you have the opportunity to practice those games A LOT.

The summer going into my senior year of high school I worked at Camp Snoopy (which is now Nickelodeon Universe for all you youngins out there). My job was to run the carnival games where you could win prizes…if you got really lucky. We had the standard assortment of nearly-impossible games. The basketball shots with overly-inflated balls and warped rims, trying to land a ping pong ball in a dish floating in water, etc. There was another game not that many people played called Scatterball.

Scatterball was basically a Plinko-style game where you try to catch a metal marble as it falls down a bunch of pegs. The game is impossible to any Joey that walks up and throws some cash on the table. You have to catch all five marbles successfully to win. Catching even one marble is extremely hard. Catching all five? GTFO. However, it isn’t impossible for a bored 17-year old that has nothing to do during an 8-hour shifts but practice Scatterball. Like I said, no customers ever played it.  So the only thing to do to pass the time when you were scheduled to work at Scatterball was to play Scatterball.

I got so good on that game I could catch all five marbles nearly every single time. I was like Neo in The Matrix. Everything was slowed down and I could visualize it like a pro. I hatched a plan to win kids a bunch of prizes at the Fair that summer.

It worked flawlessly. I was like some weird version of Robin Hood where I would win prizes from crooked carnies and give them to kids. I was discreet at first. I would only play a few rounds before leaving and coming back and going to a different side of the square booth where a different carnie would take my tickets. But after a while I got cocky. I just sat there winning and winning, giving away all the stuffed animals to adoring children. I ran out of tickets so kids started giving me their tickets so I could play for them. It was the perfect heist.

It lasted a while longer until the carnies stopped just giving me the side-eye for all my winning and came to the realization I wasn’t just getting lucky, I was a ringer. A true Scatterball rounder that just hustled them out of like 30 teddy bears. They informed me that my tickets were no longer good there and I wasn’t allowed to play anymore. I got up from my stool and left to standing ovation and chants of DA-NA! DA-NA!

OK, I made that last part up, but the rest of it is totally true. I made a bunch of kids happy that day and it ruled. I am also now on the shortlist of people that can say they have been kicked out of the Midway for winning too many prizes. Is it as cool as getting kicked out of a casino for winning too much money? Well, not quite. But it was still awesome. 

Go Radio will be at the Fair all 12 days and I will be hanging out at the booth for most of them. Please come say hello. I love meeting members of the Go Fam…just please refer to me as the Robin Hood of the Mighty Midway.

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