Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – Pal Fontana began a career with the carnival at the age of 12, to help his struggling family pay bills.
"They took care of me. They fed me. They treated me really good. A couple of guys gave me a candy apple for my mother. It was the sweetest friendship I could ever find. I've been here ever since," said Pal, now the Assistant General Manager with Strates Shows.
When he was 15, Pal joined the Royal American Shows, catching his big break on the Super Himalaya ride as a barker, or in modern terms, a D.J.
Eventually, he married the daughter of a carnival worker, divorced, and met another woman in the business. Pal raised five children on the midway.
"I jumped a train that I thought was going nowhere and it took me everywhere," Pal said.
19-year-old Kayla Fontana manages a food stand for her father Pal.
The baby of the family, she still lives with her parents, in their motor home. A life on the go is all she's ever known.
"Well, we would be in three places in a month, so we just pick up and travel again and move," Kayla explained. "My mom is a teacher and she would take us each day and she would teach us for 8 hours a day and then when we would go home for the couple of months off, she would put us in a regular school, so we got both experiences."
Like Pal's other children, Dustin Fontana works on the midway in the job he always wanted to as a child at the carnival - a ride supervisor.
"For a young boy in the business, tear down night was the big night. You wanted to see all the equipment moving and that is where all the man work came in so to speak. So as a young boy, wanting to be a man, you follow your father around," Dustin said.
Dustin is now following another co-worker around, the girlfriend he met at the funnel cake stand.
"He walked me home from work one day and we just started talking and it just led one thing to another and we got together," said Krystal Davis. "My dreams are to get a funnel cake stand, run my own stand, and then have a family, make sure I'm financially stable for a family."
It appears that preparations are underway for another generation of Fontana’s at the fair.