At a glance
– So what rides is East Coast Amusements bringing to Summerside for the Lobster Carnival? Dave Doersam says the Himalayan, the biggest ride in the Maritimes, is coming along with the Zipper, the Star Trooper with 2.5 G force and the 65-foot Ferris Wheel.
– A roller coaster suited to both adults and children is coming and, of course, the Tilt-a-Whirl. Doersam says even though it is a ride dating to the 1960s, it is still the third top grossing ride on the circuit and demanded by the public.
– Raider Ride, a 35 x 70 foot jungle gym is one of the rides coming for children.
– Doersam says people will have to come and discover the rest of the rides for themselves. The midway will open at noon on each of the three days of the carnival, July 13-15, and depending on demand will run well into the evening.
For Doersam, it is more than a business, it is a way of life. He is the third generation of his family to take up the career which started back in the 1960s in Ontario with his great-uncle Hughie Soenen. His niece came from Saskatchewan to work for Soenen and fell in love with the main ride guy. The couple became parents to Dave. Though they retired from the business, Doersam took their place at the age of seven as a summer employee. He quickly learned the ropes of the business and by 15 was head of his own crew — dismantling, moving and setting up rides.
Never wanting to do anything else, he went on to work for several midways over the coming years. Then when Maritime Rides came up for sale, Doersam joined forces with Adams, a long-time midway careerist, to purchase the company and moved to the East Coast.
Doersam says most people don’t realize what is involved in the business. The midway starts operating the first of May, and from then until Thanksgiving, he will not have a day off, although all of his staff have one day per week that belongs to them. He loves the fact that there is nothing routine about the business, and he is constantly dealing with something different while getting to work outside. Once school is out, has his wife and children, ages 10 and four, are with him constantly.
East Coast Amusements carries a crew of 50, with about 35 returning each midway season. Doersam admits it is a challenge to find the right people for the midway life, which requires a multitude of skills.
Staff must be cleared to work with youth, have good life habits, a likeness for working with the public and an ability to not only run the rides, but assemble and dismantle and service them.
Doersam says while the public may not see him personally on the front lines he is constantly onsite watching and checking every facet of the operation.
He compares the moving of the midway from event to event to that of moving a small town — it requires logistics.
Some artifacts related to the country’s history are coming to community museums in P.E.I. this summer as part of Canada 150 celebrations.
The Community Museums Association of Prince Edward Island is co-ordinating the project that will see exhibits displaying five artifacts related to Canadian history.
Binders with empty labels will give visitors a chance to interact with the exhibits and determine why each artifact was chosen.
Visitors will also be asked what artifact they would collect to tell Canada’s history in 100 years to help shape future Island museums’ collection policies.