Starring Gary Busey, Jodie Foster, and Robbie Robertson; 1980s Carny is another film I have repeat showings on cable television during the 80s to thank for my initial viewings.
The movie follows Busey and Robertson as carnival folk who survive by working/hustling all the angles both on and off the midway. Things get tricky for the pair when an 18 year old (played by Foster) runs away from home, joins the carnival first as a dancer before moving to the midway, and subsequently becomes entangled in a charged triangle with the men.
While I can't claim to have any specialized insight into the carny existence, Carny illuminates the peculiar (and often illegal) deals the carnival owners have to contend with as they hammer out the specifics with each town's leaders and/or underworld types. In his July 22, 1980 review in the Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert wrote, "Carny is bursting with more information about American carnivals than it can contain, surrounding a plot too thin to support it. ...Inside this movie is a documentary struggling to get out."