British-born transplant arrested by ICE on a carnival ride he hopes never ends

August 26, 2019 04:38 PM

GREENWICH – A British-born man who has been on the road with carnivals most of his life has also been arrested by immigration twice – once in Albany.

Ian Kempster, 65, just finished a week in Washington County and a few weeks ago was in Saratoga County. And he has reason to say: "Thanks for the memories."


"I live where the fairgrounds is...I stay with the fair," said Ian Kempster, the head electrician for Amusements of America, the midway at the Washington County Fair and the Saratoga County Fair.

Kempster came to the U.S. when he was 11 with his dad, a musician with USO tours and businessman. A few months later, his father was back in England and died in a car accident. Kempster was stranded in Pennsylvania and eventually sent to an orphanage.

"They took me in the front door and I ran back out the back door," Kempster said with a smile. "I didn't even stay there long. I just didn't want to be there. I was scared. I got no family, no one to talk to."

He lived in old hunting cabins and ate food from garage refrigerators – "I wasn't really stealing, stealing. I'd just take enough to eat."

From then on, he worked for carnivals, married and divorced, met a Hollywood superstar entertainer, run afoul of ICE, and broke his left leg three times - twice by forklift. He’s still kicking.

"If I stop, I'm scared I might never start again to be honest with you," Kempster said. "I know God's got me no matter what happens. He's there because otherwise I wouldn't be here now."


John Craig

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