Skerbeck Bros. Shows brings family tradition of carnivals to Bay City Fireworks Festival
The carnival, provided by Skerbeck Brothers Shows, Inc., will be Thursday through Sunday with a preview night on Wednesday. The preview night, beginning at 5 p.m., allows local residents to experience the rides before those from out-of-town arrive for the fireworks show.
by Danielle McGrew
July 2, 2013
BAY CITY, MI — With a history of more than 150 years to its name, Skerbeck Bros. Shows is once again bringing its carnival to the annual Bay City Fireworks Festival.
The carnival, set up in Veteran's Memorial Park on Bay City's West Side, gets underway from 5-10 p.m. Wednesday, July 3. All-night ride wristbands will be available for $22. Individual ride tickets are $1 each with different rides requiring a different number of tickets.
The carnival continues Thursday, July 4, through Saturday, July 6 at the following times:
Thursday, July 4 — Noon-11 p.m.; $22 wristbands available for riding from noon to 6 p.m. After 6 p.m., only ride tickets can be used.
Friday, July 5 — Noon-11 p.m.; $22 wristbands available for riding from noon to 6 p.m. After 6 p.m., only ride tickets can be used.
Saturday, July 6 — Noon to midnight; only ride tickets may be used on this day.
Doug Clark, president of the Bay City Fireworks Festival, said some of the hours of operation may be different on the festival website as plans have changed since the last time the website was updated.
Skerbeck Bros. Shows began as a circus in 1857 Bohemia, but transitioned to a carnival in the late 1890s. The operation is now managed by the fifth generation of Skerbecks, Joe and Bill. Their spouses, children and grandchildren have also found a spot in the carnival life.
Bob Skerbeck, a member of the sixth generation, said he moved to Arizona after college, but returns six months a year to the life he grew up with — traveling with his family, living in trailers and putting up, running and taking down the carnival at festivals across the area.
The Escanaba-based operation owns about 60 rides, half of which will be at the Bay City Fireworks Festival, according to C.J. Skerbeck, co-owner of the carnival.
Some rides are difficult to find elsewhere.
According to Bob Skerbeck, the Toboggan attraction is the only one in the country, because of its size and the number of people required to put it up.
He said the operation employs about 140 people each summer and can host two carnivals at one time in different cities. About 20 travel with the shows and additional workers are hired from the towns hosting the carnivals.
Skerbeck crew members were in Vets Park on Tuesday setting up the carnival, which features rides designed for younger children toward the north end of the carnival and more intense rides at the south end. Some rides do have height restrictions, which can be found at www.skerbeck.com
As setup continued, Bob Skerbeck’s nephew, Dusty, approached holding a stuffed animal. His uncle chuckled, recalling his own memories from that age.
“And there’s the seventh generation,” he said.