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Midway Talk – August 13, 2009

Richard Hanson of Goldstar Amusements of Minneapolis, MN, owned by Mike and Connie Featherston, reports that the weather has been more of a factor in ride gross than the economy.  The carnival purchased a new Remix for 2008 and this past winter LED lighting was added to the Century Wheel.  The carnival offers a 30-ride midway including a Power Surge, Super Shot and Ring of Fire; the Reverchon Himalaya, three trailer ride, is used at larger dates.  The show travels through MN, SD, LA, TN and TX.

Ed and Betty Burlingame, owners of Pride Amusements of Galena, Kansas told Carnival that their new Dalton Quad Runner kiddie ride is one of the best kiddie rides that they have ever owned.  The carnival travels through Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Ron Burback, owner of Funtastic Shows of Portland, Oregon told Carnival that business has been good so far this season but that he is using three units instead of the usual four or five.  New for 2009 is a Fajume Tornado.  Rain has not been a problem for the northwest since they are used to a lot of wet weather.

In spite of inclement weather and a bad economy,  the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, DE reported a five percent increase in attendance in 2009 with over 282,000 patrons coming through the gates compared with 268,000 in 2008.  Wade Shows posted revenue of over $1.0 million and the grandstand grossed over $1.8 million.

Attendance at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair in Goshen, Indiana was up by more than seven percent, dispelling fears that the recession would bring disastrous results.

Midway Talk – August 20, 2009

Commerford’s Petting Zoo, based in Goshen, CT has added carnival rides.  This addition was necessitated by New York state’s prohibition of elephant rides and the resultant loss of revenue.  Commerford has purchased a Gravitron, Swinger, Scrambler, Fun Slide, Merry-Go-Round, Circus Train and Bounce to go along with the two Hampton Umbrella Rides they already own.  They also plan to play more dates in Massachusetts and Connecticut where elephant rides are still allowed.

Charlie Belknap, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Powers Great American Midways, reported that the carnival had an amazing run at the Cobleskill, NY, Schoharie County Sunshine Fair.  In cooperation with the New York Soybean Farmers Assn., Powers used bio-diesel to run their generators.  Charlie said that online sales of ride wristbands was double what they expected.  The show has taken delivery of a new office trailer with six slide outs, manufactured by Spacecraft of Concordia, MO.

Attendance at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus was 826,037, an increase of 16,715 over the 2008 figures.  Amusements of America provided 70 rides and grossed $1,847,169.  Food sales totaled $4.1 million.

One of the west’s most famous fairs and rodeos, Frontier Days, held in Cheyenne, Wyoming had its highest attendance in years with 191,754 patrons coming through the gates. The Bill Hames Shows had one of its best runs ever on the carnival midway.  The rodeo on July 18th attracted 13,308 fans, a record for opening day.

Despite four days of rain, Mighty Thomas Shows had one of its best runs ever at the 78th Montana State Fair in Great Falls.

The Bangor State Fair in Bangor Maine had one of its best runs ever when 69,750 people attended the ten-day affair from July 30 through August 8.  Dean & Flynn Fiesta Shows provided the midway.  A POP special of $10 for admission and unlimited rides drove the attendance figures, which had been declining in recent years.

The Carousel Organ Association of America (COAA) will present a national band organ rally at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, CT on September 5 & 6.  The organs, that make the “Happiest Music on Earth” will be coming from all parts of the country and will consist of both large trailer-mounted units and smaller hand-racked “street corner” organs.  There are fewer than 1,000 band organs in the U.S.

Midway Talk – September 3, 2009

The 105th, eleven-day Kentucky State Fair in Louisville had the second highest attendance total in five years when 621,795 patrons came through the gates representing a six percent increase over 2008.  Mild temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s contributed to the success of the fair according to CEO Harold Workman.

The IAAPA will open its first office in Latin America on October 1, 2009 in Mexico City.  The main objective will be to represent the interests of the Latin American attractions industry and offer IAAPA products and services.

There is a Carnival and Circus Model Display in the Art & Home Center at the NY State Fair, August 27 – September 7.  Carnival contributor, Bill Pfeifer said that they have models of Strates Shows including the NY State Fair midway plus Strates’ trains and rides from the past.  Also displayed are the Royal American Shows and Reithoffer Shows.

Jimmy Reed Sr., patriarch of Lufkin and Houston, Texas based Reed Expositions Midways passed away the weekend of August 29, 2009.  Dan Zapata, Carnival contributor said that Jimmy began his show with a Zipper, Rampage, Loop-O-Plane, Chair-O-Plane and a Ferris Wheel.  He is survived by two sons and two daughters.

Midway Talk – August 27, 2009

Rich Byrum, Vice President of Butler Amusements told Carnival that the four rides from the Michael Jackson Estate have been big hits at the California State Fair in Sacramento.  The four rides are Balloon Samba, Wave Swinger (owned by Helm & Sons Amusements), Dinosaurs and Bumper Cars.  The Bumper Cars ride still has the “Neverland” sign attached, making a great background for fairgoer’s photos.  Rich said that the first three days of the fair saw nice increases in revenue at Sacramento and that the same was true for the Western Idaho State Fair in Boise.

The Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis had total attendance of 833,285 for the August 6 through 13 event, down 39,173 from 2008.  The decrease was blamed on bad weather.

The California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles had an increase in attendance of 1.7% over 2008.  The Tom Davis Enterprises carnival brought in close to $500,000 from the midway and concessions totaled $849,763.

Frank Zaitshik’s Wade Shows provided the midway for the Wayne County Fair in Honesdale, PA from August 7 through 15.  The attendance was 87,190, down from last year’s 89,664.

The midway at the Montana State Fair in Billings brought in $855,184 for Mighty Thomas Carnival of Austin, Texas.  Total attendance was 233,015 for the August 7 through 15 run, the second best attendance in the fair’s history.

Charles Panacek of Belle City Shows reported that the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines was a very successful run for the show with 1,006,501 fairgoers attending the August 13 through 23 event.  “It was our first year on this midway and I thought we did really well,” said Charles, adding “When we get good weather we do quite well.”

The Orange Unit of Reithoffer Shows provided 47 rides for the 85th State Fair of West Virginia at Fairlea, for the August 14 through 22 run.  Pat Reithoffer III signed a new three-year contract with the fair.

Carowinds, an amusement park near Charlotte, NC has decided to name its new $23 million roller coaster after race-car driver, Dale Earnhardt.  The ten-acre coaster reported to be the highest, fastest and longest in the southeast will be called “The Intimidator.”  The coaster will reach speeds of 75 mph and will have seven steep drops.

Arlene Marcinek, secretary of the Lake County Fair in Crown Point, Indiana told Carnival that the ten day fair, held August 7 through 16, saw an increase of 9,300 over last year’s attendance.  North American Midway Entertainment provided 31 rides for the midway.  “It rained on opening day and closing day, but overall we were very pleased,” said Arlene.  The dates for the 2010 fair will be August 6 through 15.

Midway Talk – September 17, 2009

Powers Great American Midways and beautiful weather brought out record crowds for the 157th Great Allentown, Pennsylvania Fair for the September 1st through 7th run.  Powers, in their second year, is booked at the fair through 2011.  Corky Powers brought his Chopper Hopper, Vertigo Swing Tower and Swing Buggy all three of which were big hits.

New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo announced on August 31, 2009, an agreement with Dreamland Amusements, a New York based traveling carnival to pay workers for unpaid wages and to ensure compliance with labor and civil rights laws.
The agreement covers ride operators who are primarily Mexican workers, who Dreamland recruited through the H2B visa program.  The complaints alleged that the workers were denied minimum and overtime wages and were subjected to substandard living conditions, while other workers who were not Mexican received preferable conditions.

The 91st Steele County Free Fair in Owatonna, Minnesota attracted 282,803 patrons; however, carnival revenue was down 4.9% and mega ride tickets were down 3.2%, mainly because of the 3.2 inches of rain that poured down on Wednesday and Thursday.  Nevertheless, carnival owner, Todd Merriam was very happy with the business.  Beer Garden sales set an all time record of 57,997 cups.  Although sideshows have largely disappeared from many fairs, the Steele County Free Fair had four including: World’s Smallest Horse, Spider Girl, Giant Snake and Tiny Tina the Little Lady.  The most popular rides on the midway were in order of popularity: Himalaya, Expo Wheel, Orbitor, Scooter and Tilt-A-Whirl. Next year’s fair will run from August 17 through August 22.

The Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul set an attendance record of 1,790,497 for its August 27 through September 7 run, eclipsing the 2001 record by 27,521.  Beautiful weather and a great grandstand program contributed to the record turnout.  Next years fair will run from August 26 through September 6th.

Frank Zaitshik, owner of Wade Shows has purchased a Mondial Fighter, that moves on four trailers, from independent ride owner, Flight to Mars.  (See photo and story in Oct 2005 issue of Carnival) The ride will make its debut at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City on September 17 for the eleven-day event.  Frank is not intimidated by the problems associated with moving such a large piece, contending that such spectacular rides are necessary for drawing large crowds to the major fairs.  Zaitshik also purchased a new, 53-foot office trailer with several slide-outs from Henry Dombrowski.

North American Midway Entertainment reported that unusual, rainy weather held down the crowds at the Calgary Stampede in Edmonton, Alberta at the July 3 through 12 run.  On July 18th, at the Capital Ex, (July 17 – 26) a severe storm hit the midway causing officials to close the gates at 10:00 PM.  Attendance at the Capital Ex totaled 717,966 according to Tony Diaz President of the International Unit of N.A.M.E.  At the Queen City Ex in Regina, Saskatchewan, N.A.M.E. provided 48 rides including the new Bonzai.  Other top rides were:  Niagara Falls Flume, Fireball, Crazy Mouse, Spinning Coaster and the Polar Express.

The Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, Tennessee set an attendance record of 505,434 for the seven-day event.

The Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, the second largest fair in the state, had attendance of 876,000, down 21,900 from the previous year.  The James E. Strates Show provided the midway for the twelve-day event.

Robert Blomsness, son of Patty and Jeff Blomsness of North American Midway Entertainment is on military duty in Afghanistan.  Robert is the husband of Melissa Leavitt, the daughter of Charlene and Guy Leavitt.