Giant man eating chicken??............Its the old play on words. You have a sign with a huge menacing chicken with words "Giant Man Eating Chicken". When they enter.........they see a giant man...............eating chicken............first thing that came to my mind...
I'm planning to have a ringmaster, a lion tamer gone wrong (no head), a bearded lady, a half-wolf half-boy.....I may or may not have all of these but it's a start. Other options are a sword swallower (again, brutal accident), fire eater....if you do some research on the web you'll find lots of ideas. Good luck!
What we have is a trail that we create around our house. They first walk throught the cemetary and then they will walk into the new section, the "Carnievil". Here we have a pop up clown that my husband built and will pop up over the fence, then they will walk past two windows. In these windows I want to create a scene "side show". This will divert their attention and then I will be in my clown suit just past the windows to scare them. So that is where I needed the ideas. Past this section, we have another pop up that sits ups from a coffin and then trash can trauma. The last place they go is to the magic mirror to keep their candy. We always have a big crowd and the kids love it.
I always enjoyed seeing the big clown tucked into a little car. Easy prop to make by recycling a kids pedal car or tricycle or something similar. You could even paint the vehicle up to resemble some creature. How about those acrobats? Spirit has a swinging zombie girl that could probably be re-outfitted in tights and a tutu to become a trapeze artist. Or if that's too pricey, make your own. It doesn't have to swing - it could simply hang upside down from a bar instead.
My carnival theme (not doing this year) has a number of side shows acts already mentioned above. Another one I have in the works is a Snake Lady. Her head is human (using the Emo mask with wig, filled in with snake eyes) but her body (maybe made out of ducting not sure yet) will be snake and she'll be sort of wrapped around a tree trunk on display in a glass box (framed by wood and glass of window film shrunk to fit). She'll be somewhat noctural and displayed in dim light with leaves and vines helping obscure parts of her. I'm hoping to have a vibrating snake tongue sticking out of her mouth to make her look alive.
If you are looking for some masks to convert to props, there's the Elephant Man who actually I believe was at one time in the circus, and I'm using the Enigma mask (based on likeness of a real man tatooed with blue puzzle pieces and bone implants, etc.). I'm not seeing it on Haloween Asylum's site any longer, where I bought it, but see that Oriental Trading of all places is selling it.
Two-headed animals like a lamb for example could be part of a side show.
I bought the two-foot butler from Walgreens last year and will make him up as one of the side show barkers and add an audio track for him calling in carnival goers and promoting some of the acts.