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By Carleen Nelson-Nesvig

Milan hosted its annual Community Fair from May 31st through June 2nd at Wilson Park on Wabash Street. Visitors saw this venue transformed into a midway. As you walked through the entry, you heard instruments heavily influenced by traditional music from the Caribbean and Latin America. Carnival flags were flying, and tents towering. There were rides for everyone. There were lots of games and food concessions, complete with elephant ears, corn dogs, and popcorn.

caarnival game with stuffed animal prizes

Photos by Edward E and Carleen Nesvig

The Midway was alive with excitement as men, women, and children of all ages, along with their family pets, rushed to see all that the Midway could offer. Skerbeck Carnival (also known as Skerbeck Entertainment Group) was the provider for this year’s outdoor adventure in both the Milan and Saline communities, offering thirty rides between the two events and sixty Skerbeck workers between the two venues.

According to Sonja Skerbeck, Manager, Skerbeck Entertainment Group, “For nearly thirty years, we have been a proud partner of the Milan Community Fair. This event is a testament to our enduring partnership with the Fair and the City of Milan. We are deeply grateful to the City of Milan for their continued support and for providing the hospitality and resources of Wilson Park. We eagerly look forward to many more years of collaboration and success.”

Photos by Edward E and Carleen Nesvig

Skerbeck is a family-owned business. Sonja Skerbeck managed the Milan event this year, while her husband managed the event in Saline. Sonja cherishes the joy that Skerbeck Entertainment Group brings to Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. From heart-pounding rides on the Century Wheel to the nostalgic Grand Carousel Pony rides, Skerbeck strives to offer a memorable experience for all. The Skerbeck Family Carnival has been a source of entertainment for generations, touring the United States since 1857.

Sonja stresses that safety is paramount. “Ongoing preventive maintenance is performed to ensure no equipment malfunctions,” she explains. Employees must be friendly, helpful, fun, and knowledgeable. Many of the Skerbeck Family Carnival employees return each year, and some are from multi-generational families that have worked for the Skerbeck family for several decades.

brightly colored carnival merry go round

Photos by Edward E and Carleen Nesvig

“Our workforce consists of professionals, and this belief is instilled in the workforce through training, experience, and feedback from the Skerbeck family,” adds Sonja. “In order to qualify as a potential employee with Skerbeck Family Carnival, employees must be willing and able to successfully pass an internet background check and are subject to drug tests. All employees are carefully observed for appropriate behavior and job performance.”

Photos by Edward E and Carleen Nesvig

Sonja stops and points out her teenage daughter, who also works the Midway. “Most significantly, Skerbeck family members must be comfortable that the employees surrounding Skerbeck family members are trustworthy of living near their own children and caring for their own children on the Midway.”

And it’s not all safety fun and games with Skerbeck. The company gives back to the communities it entertains. Sonja projects the company to give back around $2 million from its 2024 season. “Our carnivals, in many ways, are a great contributor to the community,” she says.

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