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John Spaulding Sr. (Poppy) passed away on Saturday, October 15, 2022. John was born August 30, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio; he was the son of Clarence Spaulding and Leta Garrett Spaulding.

In the summer of 1957, he began his amusement career, working for the wife of Harry Basham as a game operator. In the winter months, John worked as a plumber for Hoffermans Plumbing Company with Harry Bashams son. He continued working for Harry advancing to become the shows electrician. He went on to help other shows, earning the nickname “million-dollar John” from Charlie Kreckler by asking him to be paid fair wages.

He met his future wife, Donna Kanet, in 1962. John and Donna married in 1963 and, a few years later, moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where John sought a new opportunity as a theme park manager. John soon became highly regarded personally by the park owner. Sadly, the park was sold, and the new park owner stole everything that John and Donna had built. Down but not out, they packed up and moved back to Ohio. With their two small daughters, Karen and Cathy.

They started two units of penny arcades with novelty stands in two parks; John at the boardwalk in New York and Donna in Indian lake with the two girls. This was the beginning of “Wonderland Arcade.” Riots began to break out in Indian lake, and John took his family and penny arcade on the road and began booking fairs and festivals. The first county fair was the Butler County Fair in Ohio. John and Donna extended their family from two to four, having another daughter Carol and their son John Jr.

John and Donna owned and operated the wonderland arcade for the next 15 years with their four children traveling the Midwest to fairs and festivals. Over time John expanded to four arcade units, acquiring three back-end pieces, games, and concessions, and began booking state fairs which took his show and family divided across the country.

In addition to starting Spaulding Concessions, John then started Spaulding Vending Company with the support of his wife and friend Royce Green* John had one of the largest southern vending routes in Ohio. John sold his vending company to Pioneer in the late 1980s. John helped and guided many new startup companies in the vending business with his vast knowledge and skills.

In 1988 technology advancing John purchased rides creating his show known as Spaulding Shows. After eight years of owning Spaulding Shows, John and Donna returned to their roots of operating their games and concessions in Ohio.

Gracing county fairs and festival midways for 65 years, his presence will truly be missed. He enjoyed meeting new people and making friends at all the fairs, carnivals, and festivals. He appreciated and loved the people he shared time with and had many fond memories of each and every one of them. He was a true Showman. He will be remembered for cutting up jackpots and having lots of rules, the most essential being that when shit happens, you pick yourself up, start over again, and never be afraid. The show must go on!

He will be deeply missed by his wife, Donna Spaulding; his four children, Karen (Edward) Chicketti, Cathy (Robert) McGuire, Carol (Sergio) Genovesi, and John Jr (Kelly) Spaulding, His brother Clarence Jr. (Gail*) Spaulding, Shirley* (Ronald) Holstein, Janice (Carly) Mickle, Paul (Teri) Spaulding, Paula Jean Hotopp. Grandchildren, 14, and 6 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence Spaulding and Leta Garrett Spaulding; Sister Shirly (Ronald) Holstein; Sister-in-Law, Gail (Clarence) Spaulding; and Granddaughter Montana Miley Spaulding.

The Spaulding family will host a celebration of life on October 28, 2022, at Montgomery County Fairgrounds 4-7 pm, building 1.

In lieu of flowers, please donate in his honor to the GOSA Scholarship Fund, the IISA Scholarship Fund, or The Showman’s League of America Scholarship fund.

July 28, 2023
July 28, 2023
John taught me a lot he was a good man. He always gave me a chance. R.I.P. .

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July 28, 2023
July 28, 2023
John taught me a lot he was a good man. He always gave me a chance. R.I.P. .
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