LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- The St. Vito's festival will officially begin Thursday June 23, but Richard McDaniel and his family of carnival lovers have been there all week.
McDaniel runs McDaniel Brothers Shows, a family business that has set-up carvinals around the tri-state area and Delaware for 25 years.
"I try to keep it a family operation," said McDaniels, whose traveling circus of freelance contractors includes his brother Freddy, sister Rose and nieces Heidi and Christina. "I've been doing it for 30 years and it has it's good days and bad days, but you got to like it."
McDaniel's sister-in-law Rosanna also likes to keep it in the family as the 30-year owner of Ace Amusements, another traveling carnival, and supplies the rides for Mamaroneck's annual Fireman's Carnival.
On Wednesday, the New York State Department of Labor inspected all of the rides to ensure safety protocols are being followed. "I was surprised how thorough they were," said Jim Lanza, who is the co-chair of the festival with Bonnie Casterlla. "Bonnie and I oversee every step and I've got my guys volunteering."
Lanza owns Lanza's Electrical Contracting Co. and volunteered his workers to put up lights in the tents, which will hold games and food in the front of the lot when the festival, celebrating St. Vito's 100th anniversary, opens from Thursday, and ends Sunday.
McDaniels' crew arrives on Mondays to set-up events, which are mostly for churches, nonprofits, or fireman's fairs. They break down on Sundays after the event ends and then moves on to the next one the following day. In between, McDaniels' crew unloads and set-ups all of the rides and stands from the units they drive over, either directly from their last event, or from their headquarters in Lodi, N.J.
The camera-shy McDaniel and his crew brought seven rides for the festival, which he said is small compared to others, like the St. Francis Fall Festival in Denville, N.J.
"Usually my units carry 10 to 12 rides, and my brother's carries 12 to 14," McDaniels said.
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