Panhandle South Plains Fair game operator overcomes to spread jo - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Panhandle South Plains Fair game operator overcomes to spread joy

Cupit (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs) Cupit (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs Source: Ashlyn Tubbs
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs Source: Ashlyn Tubbs
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs Source: Ashlyn Tubbs
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs Source: Ashlyn Tubbs

All across the Panhandle South Plains Fair grounds, there are dozens of games with prizes that have fairgoers of all ages lined up.

Even though some of the games may seem impossible at times, one woman who works the ring toss game makes sure her contestants never give up.

"I tell everybody, ‘Be a Positive Patty, not a Negative Nancy," Shar Cupit said.

Cupit believes in each person's throw, even though it is a "game of luck."

"Everyone says, ‘I've seen Joe Dirt, you put Pam on the bottles," she said, "no, that's not true."

Cupit knows because she has been on the inside of these games for more than 15 years.

"I joined up the first time in October of 1999," she said. "Everyone needs a vacation, and once a year I get a three-month vacation as well."

It is her only break from a very full house in Arkansas.

"I actually take care of my mom, my stepdad, my 21-year-old brother and my 28-year-old sister," she said, "plus I'm raising two kids and two dogs and a ferret."

Cupit first ran away with the carnival at just 17 years old.

"I've been through it all," Cupit said. "I've lived in shelters when I was younger, I mean, I've had my house burned down. I actually grew up in a family that use to make their money in a really bad way, you know?"

That is when she knew she had to make this sacrifice.

"I graduated high school, I had a full paid college scholarship," she said, "but I threw that all away to help my family. Because I left, they couldn't do what they were doing anymore."

In a way, these games saved her life.

"I would've ended up going to jail for a really long time," Cupit said.

This role has not only taken her away from hardships, but to 48 states.

"You're never in the same place for longer than 10 days," she said.

While her heart stays with her son and daughter in Arkansas, the people she cares for grow with each year's trip.

"We all come from broken backgrounds, but this kind of made us all a close-knit family," Cupit said. "We actually open our house to the people who don't have a place to go in the wintertime."

Despite it all, Cupit's constant joy attracts customers.

"When you see somebody like the little boy with the banana [toy], it just brightens up their night," she said, "and they're like, ‘Yeah I did it'. That makes you feel good, because you were able to help them do it."

Cupit's goal is to make the fair should not just an escape for her, but everyone.

"We're all kindred spirits," she said, "and we all kind of come together and turn the negative situation that brought us here into a positive lifestyle."

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