Sam Johnston started as a young boy working for his parents who operated a small amusement business in the 1950’s. His involvement in the amusement business continued through his college years at Sacramento State when he majored in business administration. After college, Sam joined the Army and served in Vietnam with the Army Corp. of Engineers. At his discharge, he had attained the rank of First Lieutenant and was ready to resume his position with his family’s carnival business, Johnston’s Amusements. During these years, Sam and his wife Gail traveled with Johnston’s Amusements, running nearly every aspect of the show. When his father passed away in 1978, Sam kept the dream alive, booking a handful of rides from the former Johnston’s Amusements with several larger west coast carnivals. A short time later, his new endeavor became Sam Johnston’s Midway of Fun, which he owned and operated until 2002.
In 1984, Sam had the opportunity to take over Land Park Kiddie Land, and in 1990 and 1991, he remodeled the park entirely to its present condition. Being as how Sam has always had worked in a family business, he was delighted when both his daughters and their husbands worked in management. With the help of family, Funderland has been able to continually excel and dish up kid-sized thrills for generations. In 1985, he took on another pint-sized park in Lodi and named it Funderwood, and in 1989 he also took over Pixieland Amusement Park in Concord, CA.
Ready to retire, in 2002 and 2007, Sam sold the remainder of his carnivals. He also sold Funderwoods and Pixieland to new operators as well. He currently resides in the Land Park area with his wife of over forty years and enjoys playing with his five grandchildren.
Some of his past accomplishments include serving as President of the prestigious Outdoor Amusement Business Association in 1999, a past Board member of the Western Fairs Association and one of the few carnival operators to be nominated to the Western Fairs Association Hall of Fame in 1996, President of the Showmen’s League of America in 2002 and again this year (Interestingly enough the Showmen’s League was established by Buffalo Bill Cody), and President of the Showfolks of America in 1984. He has also been the guest speaker in fair management classes at California Polytechnic University.