Shiner kicks off Half Moon Holidays (w/video)
July 4, 2014 at 2:04 a.m.
Updated July 5, 2014 at 2:05 a.m.
SHINER - Ron Foss wiped his brow as he scrambled around Green-Dickson Park, setting up games.
The Fourth of July was like any other day, and he's been a part of the carnival lifestyle going on 57 years.
Some say the lifestyle, which offers the open road, embodies freedom.
"I made $35 a week, but you know what? Minimum wage was less than a dollar back then," he said, describing how he sold 50 pounds of popcorn and 500 candy apples as a teen at the Hagan and Wallace Circus.
"Whatever was left over, we gave to the elephant," Foss said. "I learned you don't ever put a candy apple at the bottom of the popcorn barrel because he'll throw it right at you."
Foss, 74, and Alice Rivera, 75, encouraged kids to try their hand at the games and eat their fill at Shiner's 35th annual Half Moon Holidays on Friday.
Hosting Bocktoberfest put the Half Moon Holidays on the back burner, but that's not so now, said Hailey Steinocher, president of the chamber of commerce.
"In my opinion, it's kind of in new hands now," she said as a horseshoe tournament got underway. "In the past, it's kind of been the same. Now, we have a young, fresh group trying to revamp it, and what better time than to fall on the 35th? I think it's perfect."
"This is nowhere near Bocktoberfest, but it's definitely a step toward the right direction," Julie Boehm, the treasurer of the chamber of commerce, added.
Festivities Friday began about noon and were expected to last until midnight with performances by Chad Sullins and the Rankin Twins. There was also a salsa and margarita contest, a dunk tank and vendors hawking different wares and food.
Saturday, Los Kolaches, Zane Williams and Charlie Robison will play. There will also be a 10- to 15-minute fireworks show provided by the Spoetzl Brewery.
"It's the land of beer. Come out, drink and have fun," Steinocher said.
Rivera teamed up with Foss 10 years ago.
A retired teacher, she still talks about how even at a carnival in a cow pasture, her determination netted her $1,700 in a single day.
"It was just a lot of fun to do it, and it got more and more fun," said Rivera, decked out in pink and dwarfed by most of her customers.
Foss has taken a break from the business only twice - on Memorial Day last year when he thought he'd had a heart attack and when he was in the Navy for three and a half years.
When he was discharged because of his irregular heartbeat, he found the nearest carnival in Danville, Ind.
"I met an electrician at the gate, and the first thing he asked me is, 'Have you had anything to eat?'" Foss said.
The carnival has always been home for Mike Reeves, too.
Reeves, now 69, ran away from his home in Rapid City, S.D., when he was 16 because his father was an alcoholic.
He eventually earned his GED and enrolled in college, "but I don't like the indoors, so I left," he said.
Reeves was reclining in a fold-out chair while his miniature horses - Sundance, Gumby, Gray, Rosalina, Chief and Oreo - were tethered to a carousel.
He started building up his herd of 21 miniature horses in 1985.
"They have a whole lot better temperament than Shetland ponies," he said.
He's very protective of them because a few come from abusive homes, and he knows which kids should ride which horse.
"People say, 'You're crazy, old man. Animals don't talk.' But their body language tells you everything you need to know," Reeves said.
Four-year-old Andrew had just hopped off one of Reeves' miniature horses, and his grandparents, Charlie and Darcy Faulds, snapped a picture and sent it to his mother in Austin.
"And she said, 'I bet I know what he wants for Christmas,'" his grandfather said, chuckling. "I told her we'd drop it off next year in their front yard."
They were huddled underneath the large tent. Chad Sullins was warming up, and Andrew was bopping along to the beat. He comes from a musical family: His father is a drummer, his grandfather plays guitar, and Darcy Faulds' brother plays the keyboard in Los Kolaches.
"The kids say, 'All mom plays is the radio,'" Darcy Faulds said.
For the Faulds, the Half Moon Holiday is tradition. Last year, they participated in the 5K despite the sweltering heat.
The rain rolling in Friday didn't dampen their spirit, either. They knew it would pass. They knew they'd be back Saturday.
"Shiner just has a tremendous civic pride. There's just a loving sense of responsibility. People don't complain; they get to work," Charlie Faulds said.