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Midway Elements and Components

Emerging from a long tradition, are the identifiable elements and activities that make up a midway. Though particular offerings vary from season to season, specific components are necessary in the creation of an authentic midway experience.

Enjoying a blur of ride actionSpecial foods often mark occasions and provide a reason to indulge on treats that may not be commonplace. Many of the goods offered in the 1920s, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, fried onions, corn on the cob, candy apples, popcorn, peanuts, cotton candy, ice cream, lemonade, and soda delighted earlier crowds as much as they do today. Such fare is typical at current Northlands Park midways, where an even greater array of foods exists now. Reflecting diverse tastes and culinary capabilities, Northlands offers freshly made elephant ears, mini-donuts, kebabs, curries, noodles, submarines, pizza, gelato, and more.

Teens huddled their plush toysAside from food, an unforgettably important part of the midway is its rides. With their increased presence over time, the significance of rides has grown. Looking at the Edmonton Journal's records dating back to the 1920s, rides were reportedly an important midway component. Visitors to the summer exhibition were treated to The Whip, Aeroplane Swings, Ferris wheels, the Human Roulette Wheel, Butterfly rides, the Tumble Bug, Elephant, Joy Mill, the Missouri Mule, Scenic Railway, Skooter, and Lindy Loop. Interestingly, rides were primarily offered for adults, but children’s miniatures quickly emerged. 

Prizes at games counterVariety acts continue to be a special midway component. For those attending EEA shows in the 1920s, there were some popular medleys including girl shows, with dancing and singing; water shows, that ranged from modelling swimwear to high diving stunts to synchronized swimming; and 'Wild West' shows displaying trick riding, roping skills, and gun shooting tricks. Funhouses, trained animals and motordrome shows also served as side performances. Today, the Northlands Park midway carries some familiar features, such as the haunted house,Atop an elephant ride but also provides a broad variety of modern shows.

A midway would not be complete without the requisite assortment of games. Game operators work hard to attract the attention of passers-by. To garner the attention of onlookers, midways of earlier times even had "belly sticks" or "shills" who stood around a game pretending to play. Nowadays, just like earlier times, prizes are prominently displayed to beckon those who are willing to participate in tests of skill such as flipping, tossing, throwing, and shooting. Hoops, darts, and rings all Night time at the midwayprove fair game for those interested in winning.

Another long-held element of the midway is the presentation and sale of various items. Looking back, objects available for attendees to take home have included silverware, jewelry, glass items, and figurines. As tastes have changed, so have the items available. Walking through a Northlands Park midway, today’s popular treasures vary from huge plush toys to electronic gadgets to old favourites.

Featured Video: Bryce van Dusen recounts how he began collaborating with Northlands Park Past Northlands Park industry partner, Bryce van Dusen, recounts how he began collaborating with Northlands Park. Watch Now

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