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Merriams Midway marks 62nd consecutive Tama stop

May 15, 2014
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

If you've been in downtown Tama in mid-May, you've seen the carnival set up on the west side of the business district.

Probably more than once you've taken a thrill ride yourself, stopped at a booth or taken the children or grandchildren there for what has been the annual kick-off for summer here.

Since 1952 Merriam's Midway Shows has made Tama's "Firemens Carnival" a first stop on it's "northern" route after one in Oklahoma.

Article Photos

Dale Merriam is pictured seated in a 1947 Tilt-A-Whirl in this 2003 News-Herald file photo.

The carnival's 50th year in Tama was featured in The News-Herald in 2003, the year Dale Merriam, son of orignal founders Alva?(Al) and Edna Merriam retired, turning it over to his children.

But the carnival spirit hasn't left him. Dale wrote to The News-Herald in an email this week, "If there is any place in the world I would want to be next week, it would be Tama, Iowa. Our carnival will be in Tama - sponsored by the Tama Fire Department - for the 62nd consecutive year. That holds the record for the oldest continuous contract. Eleven Presidential administrations, and who knows how many new fire trucks over the years."

In the 2003 article, Dale recalled one of his first experiences with his parents' carnival was coming from their home in Ogden, Iowa, to Tama to set up a miniature roller coaster in the vacant lot at 3rd and Siegel.

With a degree from Iowa State, he went on to operate the carnival with his wife, Alice, but left in 1962. He then taught and obtained a PhD in Industrial Engineering from Arizona State University.

But, he wrote in "Merriam's Midway Shows - Our Story" " The passion in Dale's heart for the carnival business was still there. When Al and Edna were ready to retire after the 1973 season, Dale and Alicia bought the business, and the legacy continued."

They turned the carnival over to their children in 2003.

Read "Merriam's Midway Shows Our Story

(The First Sixty-five years and Three Generations)" accompanying this article -



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