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Telescope: Patty Conklin

The Story


His name is synonymous with midway rides across the country. From the Calgary Stampede to the Canadian National Exhibition, Patty Conklin's eagle-eyed management of his amusement shows made the old carny a multimillionaire. Even with failing health and the changing times, Conklin still stalks the show grounds as the rides rise, but he's also wise enough to have groomed his heir. In this posthumous portrait of the Carnival King, Telescope shadows Conklin as he assembles his last midway and introduces the son who will inherit his realm.

Medium: Television
Program: Telescope
Broadcast Date: Jan. 26, 1971
Guests: Patty Conklin, Jim Conklin
Resource: Ken Cavanagh
Duration: 22:52

Did You know?


• Widely known as the Carnival King, Patty Conklin built the largest travelling amusement company in North America. Born Joe Renker, Conklin was raised in Brooklyn, New York and got his start as a boy selling peanuts outside Madison Square Gardens and as a side show barker in Coney Island. After working on the carnival circuit for several years, he set out with his own small carnival in Western Canada in 1922.
 

• By 1937, the ambitious Conklin won the contract to provide rides and game concessions for the biggest amusement show in North America, the Canadian National Exhibition, held every year in Toronto. Aside from a brief interruption during the Second World War when the fairgrounds became a troop training facility, Conklin's company ran the CNE midway for more than six decades.

 

• Patty Conklin died at 78 in 1970, before this episode of Telescope aired. His son Jim Conklin took over the business, transforming the amusement powerhouse into an entertainment conglomerate whose holdings included Maple Leaf Village in Niagara Falls and the venue at the base of the CN Tower. In 2004, Conklin Shows created a new partnership becoming the North American Midway Entertainment Company.

 


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