The carnival game he works feels impossible: glass bottles are lined up in front sheet metal, and $5 gets you two tries to smash them. The pressure is on. All the while, Harvey Lepage stands an arm’s length away yelling encouragement and taunts.
Harvey is a veteran of the carnival circuit.
“I started back in 1978. I started back as a ride guy and now I’m doing games,” said Harvey, who’s first time in Regina was to work Buffalo Days.
Now 37 years later, Lepage still loves his work. He had a few breaks when he was tired of being away from his wife and newborn children, opting for factory work, debt collecting, and a few other jobs that didn’t stick. He was always drawn back to the carnival.
“The slow times, the fast times, I don’t know. It gets in your blood and you just can’t quit it. I left a couple times but I always end up coming back,” said Lepage.
Eventually his family started to come with him. His wife now works at another carnival game down the way from Harvey.
Despite the stigmas of carnival work, Lepage isn’t bothered. He works June to September and can do whatever he wants after.
“I live a good life through the winter time,” said a laughing Lepage.
Some of the younger understudies are going to university. Lepage said he felt lucky that some were going to become doctors, jokingly saying that he hopes they will look after him.
“I like meeting the people, I like the adventure,” said Lepage, adding that his job almost feels like show business. Traveling for months straight, new towns every week, and constantly being “on”.
The next big stop for Lepage is the Toronto Ex. After close to four decades in the industry, Lepage still loves his work, and encourages everyone to step right up, and give it their best shot.
“Get off the computer, meet the real world, meet lots of interesting people and we’ll help you through life. I believe that 100 per cent. I known a lot of young people that have done this and it opens their eyes, and gives them a lot more respect for people,” said Lepage.