Games with a Western Theme
See our Carnival Game Ideas page for more games that can be adapted to your western theme.
Decorate a backdrop to look like a countryside fishing hole. Player extends a small fishing pole over (or through a hole in) the backdrop. The operator in back of the screen attaches a prize to the line. Your ticket taker could wear overalls and a "Tom Sawyer" straw hat.
Player must make at least one "ringer" to get a prize. Indoor versions are available, ask around your group to see if anyone has a set you can borrow.
Decorate an area as the "jail" and have volunteers dress as sheriffs. Sheriffs would wear cowboy hats (white preferred!) and sheriff's badges. A person is arrested when a "friend" pays one ticket to have them jailed. They then have to pay one ticket to get out. You can award a sheriff's badge to players as they get out of jail. This game works better with older children and teens.
You could use a real lasso to try and rope a target, but it's a tough skill to master. It would be much easier to use rope rings, made by duct-taping together the ends of a length of stiff rope. A Western saddle would make a great target, the goal would be to get the ring on the saddle horn.
line dancing/square dancing
From the parents down to the little ones, everyone has fun with this. Keep the dances as simple as possible so no one feels intimidated. Hire a professional caller if you can't find an experienced volunteer.
milk can toss
Player tries to throw a baseball into a large metal milk can. Harder than it sounds!
painted desert / Sand art
In this craft activity, players fill small plastic bottles with different colors of sand to form patterns. We have both sand art supplies and Sandy Candy in our catalog.
Pony rides / wild horses
Check your yellow pages to find a pony ride operator in your area. If you are very lucky, you may have a willing horse or pony owner in your group who will volunteer.
Use farm animals or cowboys as the targets on a classic Ring Toss setup. The bendy cowboys would work great here.
To play this game, the player has to find the designated "sheriff" who is carrying a bag full of small plastic sheriff's badges. The sheriff can wander through the carnival. The player gives the sheriff a ticket to receive a badge with a number written on it. The player returns the badge to the prize table to receive a prize corresponding to the number on their badge. We did the game at a free event (no tickets) and just stamped the player's hand so we knew who had already played. It was important to collect the used badges and set them aside as we had a set amount of prizes corresponding to each number.
shoo the crows
Make a target with crows cut from plywood and attached to a base with hinges. Player tries to knock over the crows with a rubber baseball or a beanbag.
Player selects a piece of "silver" (a tinfoil-wrapped piece of cardboard with a number written on it) from the "mine." Decorate the mine with cardboard painted to look like timbers. Player unwraps the foil to see which number they have. Numbers correspond to prizes, from very small to large. Good prizes would include sheriff badges, cowboy hats, and plastic and plush horses.
stampeding cattle / at the races
Make a "racetrack" with six lanes. You can make a sturdy track out of wood and paint the lanes on, or just use a long sheet of the wide paper used to cover bulletin boards and draw the lanes on with a marking pen. Divide each lane into about 8-12 spaces, as shown below.
You can have up to six players at one time with this game. The player places their plastic cow on a lane. The operator throws a die (the jumbo foam ones work well for this) and the player whose lane number comes up gets to move forward one space. You can also use a pair of dice, one to determine the lane that moves and the other how many spaces to move. The first player to the finish line gets a prize.
sunday bath / dunk tank
Dunk tanks are always fun and fit well with this theme. "Reverse" dunk tanks are also available where the water pours down from above rather than the person dropping into the water.