The chance to drive dodgems is a good perk for show biz children Jacob and Samuel Mahon, aged 6 and 5.

Mahon's Amusements is in town for the Whanganui Megafun Carnival at the racecourse this weekend. There will be free entry to the 17 rides and food stalls which are open on Friday from 7pm to 10pm, Saturday from 10am-5pm and 7pm-10pm, and Sunday from 10am–4pm.

The two little boys travel with their mum Liz and dad Paul in a circuit of New Zealand towns every summer.

"I drive [the dodgems] a lot. I can drive backwards around the whole track," Jacob said.

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Samuel is still learning, and can "just about drive them".

The two do correspondence for the two summer terms every year, and their mum says they get "itchy feet" towards the end of winter. They could become the fourth generation in a family business that has set up in Whanganui in the second weekend in November for about 35 years.

This year their carnival is separate from the A&P association show, which Tonimarie Heron and others are reviving. It will consist of horse events and a pet parade on the racecourse oval, and starts at 10am on Saturday and Sunday.

The carnival's 17 rides range from extreme to gentle.

A walk-through haunted ship is a new attraction.

The Turbo Boost was billed as New Zealand's wildest ride, CJ Mahon said. It is 40m high and reaches speeds of 120km/h.

"You are too busy screaming to feel sick. It's a next generation extreme thrill ride."

The Texas Zipper hasn't been in Whanganui for the past four years, and is also extreme. It has cages that spin in all directions.

"That will make you feel sick. It's a real thrill seekers' one, that one."

On Friday and Saturday nights people will be able to buy a $39 pass and have unlimited rides on everything except the Turbo Boost.

The carnival's 25 workers include 11 backpackers who get to spend a week each in places like Stratford and Cape Palliser during the summer.

After Whanganui they move to Hawera, taking in the Waverley A&P Show on November 13.

Though some A&P associations were struggling, plenty were still holding shows every year, Mahon said.