Newton Carnival Going Strong in 75th Year

Mike and dad

As Newton Shows of East Northport gears up for its 75th anniversary this season, its motto of good people providing entertainment for good causes remains.

After learning he would be a father for the fourth time, Lewis J. Newton founded thecompany in 1949. He invested $9,300 in a Ferris wheel, which, in turn, provided the spark necessary for Newton to purchase more rides and quit his day job at Western Electric.

Newton revolutionized the industry, as he brought the first Ferris wheel to Catholic bazaars in Brooklyn and Queens. Still today, the Newton Shows’ clientele are not-for-profit institutions.

After leading the business for decades, Newton suffered a stroke in 1990 which forced him to take a step back. In stepped sons John and Mike, who have been at the helm of a more modern-based operations system since.

“Much of carnival is tradition,” Mike Newton said. “Our focus has always been raising the level of the presentation. To elevate the reputation of carnivals on Long Island. That’s really what we’re known for. In 2017, we were one of 23 carnivals in North America to get [the] designation of the Circle of Excellence. That required a lot of fine-tuning and internal work.”

Mike Newton knew from a young age that he would be involved in the business. As a teenager, he would operate the cotton candy machine at elementary school fairs. “I felt that I would [play a big part in the business], particularly when I got near high school,” he said. “My dad needed some muscle at the time and I could provide it.”

Just as his generation took over, he hopes the next ones within his family will too. The succession has already started through John, Jr. — John’s son — who serves as the chief operations officer for Newton Shows.

“Sudden illnesses in a family business create” turmoil, Mike Newton said. “It was a tough time but the show had to go on. We figured it out and got through it. Now, with John, we say he’s ‘retired, semi-retired.’ But it’s hard to be retired from the family business so to speak.”

John, Jr. is well on the way to taking more reins than he has. He’s good at it.”
Lewis J. Newton passed away in 2013 at 92. However, he is still very much alive through the carnivals.

“He really started with cotton candy, so I always think of him because that’s the first thing I was taught,” Mike Newton said. “We have a really nice cotton candy trailer and I put his name and picture on it. When I think of the Ferris wheel I think of my dad because that was one of his first amusement rides back in the day. He had a wonderful way with people.”

Newton Shows’ 2024 season commenced on April 12-13 with the 22nd annual Scarsdale High School Carnival, which began when a student reached out to Mike Newton all those years ago through email.

It will run all through the summer and beyond in several areas. Alex Pinsky Streinger is a reporter with The SBU Media Group, part of Stony Brook
University’s School of Communication and Journalism’s Working Newsroom program for students and local media.


All Photos courtesy of Mike Newton

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