'Under the Big Top' Part 3: Gritty look at carnival life

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News 12's Tara Rosenblum pulls back the curtain for a gritty look at the little-known lives of the men and women who work at carnivals each summer to entertain the masses.

It's high season right now for traveling carnivals, but the arrival of hundreds of workers is often met with a mix of awe and suspicion.

News 12 in May followed Dreamland Entertainment and its 100-member staff as it set up its Carnival Midway in a parking lot at the Palisades Center. They offered an intimate look at life behind the carousel, although the word "carny" was off limits, as workers say the term is often used in a derogatory way by people outside the business.

MORE: 'Under the Big Top' full series
MORE: Extended interviews with circus stars

With diverse backgrounds, the workers have long shifts with pay that isn't so great. It's often enough to buy two fresh lemonades an hour. But New Windsor native and ride jock Eric Bianco says it's more about making visitors feel happy.

Their lifestyle and role as the backbone of American carnival life is under threat. There are currently only about 250 traditional carnivals nationwide -- about half of what there was a decade ago. Workers blame stricter regulations and a new era of interactive multimedia.

For Thursday's "Under the Big Top" finale, News 12 takes a look behind the scenes at America's last traditional sideshow and gets a firsthand look at life as a sword-swallower.

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    A four-part Turn to Tara special series takes an in-depth look at the lives of traveling performers in the circus and carnival world.A four-part Turn to Tara special series takes an in-depth look at the lives of traveling performers in the circus and carnival world.

    A four-part Turn to Tara special series takes an in-depth look at the lives of traveling performers in the circus and carnival world.

    A four-part Turn to Tara special series takes an in-depth look at the lives of traveling performers in the circus and carnival world.

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