John J. Fanelli started in the
amusement ride business in 1956. Before that, as a young man in the late 1940's, he traveled to
many New England fairs with his uncle. He worked in a large food tent, toting water, cooking
hot dogs and making tonic. At the end of the fair, he had to take the large tent down and travel
to the next fair. At the age of 16, he built a small popcorn trailer and set it up at most of
the local community events, selling popcorn and novelties.
When he got older, he went to barber school and set up his own barber shop. He still took his
popcorn stand to local community events and parades on weekends and holidays. People asked him
if he could provide children's rides. He had always has an interest in mechanical
rides. Fanelli Amusements was born.
That year, he started in the amusement ride business, purchasing an old auto-car kiddy ride. He
spent what he could to refurbish it and put it to work. He also began adding used and
reconditioned rides. Operation of the barber shop during the day and booking local events for
the weekends kept him pretty busy.
Antique Band Organ
In 1960, he purchased his first merry-go-around and Ferris wheel. He decided to hit the road
full-time with a handful of rides and a popcorn trailer. From then on, it was dedication and
hard work. Having continuity, being consistent and providing a clean safe, quality midway proved
to be successful ingredients. Our reputation today is indisputable.
Now semi-retired, John is an advisor to his sons
Jack and Jim Fanelli,
who now operate the business and keep the old-fashioned family tradition alive.