Beloved Carnival Matriarch Dies Following Jubilee Days


The conversation started with Darcy Jones, “Whatta you wanna know” in a strong voice. With a glass of wine in hand revealing the grit and organizational prowess that has propelled this family-run carnival from its humble beginnings in 1986 to a beloved fixture in Warsaw for over a decade.

In the heart of a temporary setup overlooking the lake at Drake Harbor, the story of the Jones & Company Carnival unfolds through the vibrant voices of the Jubilee Days President Chuck Allcorn, and the dynamic duo, Carl and Darcy Jones.

The journey of Jones & Company Carnival spanning two generations, started with a Moonwalk and a Merry Go Round.

Today, as they roll into town, they bring with them a plethora of food trucks, games, fun entertainment, and rides, transforming each location into a bustling hub of joy and laughter. Their story is one of resilience, adaptability, and an unwavering commitment to bringing happiness to communities, with Warsaw emerging as a cherished stop, akin to a vacation, thanks to its welcoming community, picturesque lake views, and fishing stories of Fred (long-time crew member) bringing his 20 fishing rods and catching catfish that lasts for years in his freezer.

Life on the road has evolved significantly for the Jones. Gone are the days of cramped quarters in the back of a semi. Now, they travel in comfort, with a bunkhouse equipped with showers, satellite TV, laundry facilities, and a beautiful travel trailer, making the journey as enjoyable as the destination. Carl's dedication to driving for over 30 years and Darcy's meticulous management of everything from food to prizes have been the backbone of the carnival's seamless operation.

In an economy marked by instability, the carnival still thrives, offering families an affordable escape filled with joy and excitement.

Carl and Darcy were colleagues in the retail sector, where Carl served as Darcy's supervisor. Suddenly, they found themselves without employment when the business closed its doors. Their interest was captured by a shop specializing in hand-blown glass, where Darcy learned to create glass sculptures of elephants and roses.

The four-year collaboration with Toby's Amusement in Joplin laid the groundwork for their independent success and they ventured out on their own and fell in love.

The annual Carnival Convention-Missouri Association Fairs and Festivals in Osage Beach at Margaritaville play a crucial role in their continued journey, offering opportunities to discover new games, food stands, and rides, and to book future locations through committee connections and word of mouth. It was at one such convention that they were referred to Chuck Allcorn, who introduced them to the charm of Warsaw.

The carnival's lingo, “jump" means transporting the Carnival equipment from one spot to the next.

Every “spot" is where the Carnival operates and where they “play”.

"Joint" refers to the game and the “ride jockey” is the crew working the ride adding to its unique culture. Carl emphasizes the importance of integrity in hiring, ensuring that each team member contributes to a safe and enjoyable experience for all. The Jones & Company Carnival prides itself on its selection of rides, including the rare ZIGZAG ride, one of two in the United States, and places community safety above all, with rigorous training for operators.

The testament of the longevity of their crew was witnessed with Evon "Vonny" Timblin embarked on her carnival journey at the tender age of 14, a voyage that began in Minnesota, weaved through Iowa, and culminated in Missouri. I had the pleasure of catching up with her as she was setting up her booth at the 57th Annual Jubilee Days Carnival in Drake Harbor. Vonny recounted how her adventure started when her parents sent her to watch over her older sister who had joined the carnival, a place she never managed to leave. She giggled and shared with me that her Sister only lasted two weeks. Amidst the whirlwind of carnival life, she raised four children. One of her fondest memories, she shared, involves the joy of watching fathers and their children at the Cork Hour booth, where kids shoot play guns with corks and their faces light up with excitement when winning the beloved prizes. "It gets in your blood," she said, "and you just can't leave."
Vonny has witnessed the joy of generations; seeing little ones play at her game booth, then watching those children grow up and bring their kids, and even their grandchildren, to share in the fun. It's a unique pleasure that has allowed her to see two to three generations of families enjoy her game.

As August approaches, bringing Vonny's 86th birthday, she is also nearing retirement. My visit with her stood out as a testament to the lasting impact and the deep connections formed through the simple joy of carnival games.

Safety remains a top priority, with thorough inspections at every level ensuring the well-being of the community. The carnival's team, far from the stigmatized "carnies," are respected members of a tight-knit family, sharing the joy of their work with towns across the country.

Looking ahead, the Jones & Company Carnival is set to pass its legacy of joy and community spirit to the next generation, with Carl and Darcy's nephew, John Gifford, ready to carry on the tradition. From a lemonade stand to an integral part of the carnival's setup and production, John represents the future of this beloved Carnival, poised to make its next stop in Stover, Missouri.

As the Jones & Company Carnival continues its journey, it leaves behind a trail of laughter, memories, and a lasting impact on the communities it touches, embodying the spirit of joy and togetherness that defines the carnival experience.

In loving memory of Darcy Jones . . .

It is with a heavy heart that we dedicate this article to the remarkable Darcy Jones, who tragically passed away June 10 in Stover, MO doing what she loved.
This piece, originally celebrating her life and achievements, now serves as a memorial to honor her legacy and the indelible mark she left on our hearts and community.

The City of Warsaw, the Benton County Enterprise, Chuck Allcorn, and Kim Fugate-Hausmann extend their deepest condolences to Darcy's family during this incredibly difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, as they remember and celebrate the life of a truly extraordinary woman who touched the lives of many. May this tribute serve as a testament to her spirit and the love she shared with all of us.