Carnival KidsWhenever Amy and I see a carnival, we have to stop: she for the funnel cakes, me for the chance to pull out my camera and photograph kids.

Carnivals bring out the kid in all of us. I’m not talking about the over-produced (and over-priced) theme parks like Kings Dominion or Busch Gardens, but the weekend carnivals that set up in vacant lots and strip shopping centers — the old-time carnivals that travel from town to town during the spring, summer and fall months.

They offer more value for the buck and the hint of sleaziness that should always be part of a visit to a carnival.

Carnivals are distinctly American (even though the roots of carnivals date back to the Middle Ages in Europe).

The first ferris wheel turned at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1892 and many of the carnival "games" like foosball are American creations. More than once, we’ve left a carnival with some huge stuffed creature lashed to the top of our Jeep.

Once, we had several, including one lashed to the hood like a prize deer captured in hunting seasons.

Put a kid on a carny ride and the smile turns on and doesn’t stop. I’ve got hundreds of images of kids at carnivals and hope to add hundreds more in the years to come. The next time you see a ferris wheel on the horizon, head for it. It will be worth your while.