Carnival couple getting ready for another year at the Rose Festi - KPTV - FOX 12

Carnival couple getting ready for another year at the Rose Festival

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Ron and Beverly Burback (KPTV) Ron and Beverly Burback (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The inside of Ron Burback’s office in southeast Portland is a mini-museum – full of antique plaster statues and tiny kewpie dolls. Before teddy bears, the trinkets were given out as prizes at local carnivals and you could say Burback is the godfather of the Northwest carnival scene.

Burback started in the business when he was just 15-years-old, retrieving wayward ping pong balls for the Goldfish Game at the old Jantzen Beach Carnival. He went to college and married his sweetheart Beverly, but as he planned for the future, another career just wasn’t jumping out at him.

“When I went for interviews, I just didn’t fit,” said Burback. “And she said, what about the amusement business? I said, well, I’ll give it three years. I was 27, so I’ll give it to 30 and I’m still here.”

That was 54 years ago.

Ron and Beverly worked their way up and now they own Funtastic Traveling Shows – probably the most recognizable carnival business in the Northwest. They put on 45 events each year and there is rarely a dull moment.

“Although you might meet old friends, you might have employees coming back year after year, it’s still different every town you go to,” said Beverly.

With a smirk and a look of exhaustion, Burback laughed and said, “It’s absolute chaos!”

Not only have Ron and Beverly been married for 60 years, they work together…..every, single, day. But they seem to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Beverly glanced over at Ron, “He’s got a great temperament. He’s so easy to get along with and I’m the one that’s more—“

Burback interrupted his wife, laughing, “God, you’re going to tell it all, huh?”

The Burbacks are also the only married couple in the Outdoor Amusement Business Association Hall of Fame. Beverly was just inducted this year and in June, she’ll ride on the Funtastic float in the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.

At 84 years old, after 69 years in the business, we had to ask Burback, when is he going to retire? Before he could answer, Beverly looked him square in the eyes and repeated the obviously frequent inquiry.

“When are you going to retire? I’ve been waiting for years,” said Beverly.

Burback just chuckled and said he’d have to think about it. But with a simple question, it seems evident that this old school ‘carni’ is still enjoying the ride.

“Why would you retire when you like what you’re doing?”

The Burbacks are about to set up their rides and attractions for the Rose Festival City Fair for the 13th year in a row. The event kicks off on Friday, May 27th at Waterfront Park.

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