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Midway Talk – October 29, 2009

The 2009 fair season has been “challenging” according to Frank Zaitshik, owner of Wade Shows.  “We avoided bad weather until the past six weeks,” said Frank.  “Revenue has sometimes been up and sometimes down.”  Frank purchased a Fighter from Flight to Mars, an office trailer from Cole Shows and has ordered a Sizzler from Wisdom.  Frank loves his Wisdom Drag Strip Giant Slide saying that it has been “fantastic, and among his three highest revenue producers.”

The Mississippi State Fair took the unusual step of extending the fair by one day due to bad weather.  Rain came down in buckets for the first nine days reported fair director Billy Orr resulting in reduced attendance of at least 100,000.  The extra day will be on Monday when parking, admission, rides and all corn dogs will be $2 each.

At the Wisconsin State Fair there was a decrease in attendance of 4% according to Patrice Harris, Director of Public Relations.  Total attendance came in at 833,285, a surprising number considering that rain came on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday and off and on during the remaining days of the fair.  Due to the economy, the fair reduced admission prices to attract budget-minded patrons.

Powers Great American Midways provided 110 rides for the N.C. State Fair midway for the Sept 13 through Sept 25 run.  Advance ticket sales were running ahead of last year according to PGAM Public Relations Director Charlie Belknap.  Powers is refurbishing his Wave Swinger and Giant Wheel by installing LED lighting.  The LED lighting package was purchased through Rides 4-U.

Brad Melendez, owner of City of Fun Carnival purchased a new “Fire Ball” from Larsen International and showed it for the first time at the Sierra Vista, Arizona fall celebration near Ft. Huachuca, the sprawling military base.  Next for the City of Fun Carnival schedule was the Navajo Nation Fall Fair where they  provided 20 rides.  According to Pam Zoeller, General Manager of City of Fun Carnival, 2009 has been a very successful season with good weather and increased attendance almost every week.  They have added a new fair, LaPaz County Fair in Parker, Arizona for the 2010 season.  The Lou Melendez family owned carnival is celebrating their 50th year in the business.

The OABA Just Dance Competition on December 1 at the IAFE Convention to support the OABA Duke Smith Memorial Education Fund will feature such well known contestants as Chris Atkins, of Thomas Carnival and Cathy Deggeller of Deggeller Attractions and Eddie Porcelli III and Melody Hodson.  Eddie owns Spaghetti Eddie’s and Melody owns Hodson Concessions with her husband Jim Hodson.  Amber Swedgan and Mike Williams of N.AM.E will make up the another team.  James Stringer of Ray Cammack Shows and Bianca Cano from Hawaii will compose yet another team.

The State Fair of Texas suffered through fourteen days of rain at the September 28 through October 18 event.  As a result, attendance was down by ten percent, a remarkable result considering the weather circumstances.  “It was some of the worst weather in the history of the fair,” reported Errol McKoy, President of the Fair.  Revenue was down by around $3 million according to the Dallas News.

Attendance at the Georgia National Fair was up by around 11,000 at the October 8 through 18 event.  The Reithoffer Blue Unit provided the midway.

Midway Talk – October 20, 2009

The government of Canada is giving $3.75 million over two years to support the Canadian National Exhibition, the 4th largest fair in North America as part of the government’s promotion of tourism in Canada.  The exhibition is Canada’s largest fair and brings in over $50 million Canadian dollars annually.

North American Midway Entertainment set a new ride revenue record at the Kansas State Fair for the September 11 through 20 event.  The top five rides were the White Water Flume, Space Roller, Freak Out, Giant Wheel and Himalaya.

The IALEI, the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry is being dissolved and will be merging with the IAAPA.

Sonja Skerbeck of Skerbeck Brothers Shows of Escanaba, MI reports that the Allegan County Fair experienced a record year for the midway gross.  The event ran from Sept 11 – 19, over two weekends.  Perfect weather was experienced at the fair for the duration of the run, which was a welcome departure from an otherwise chilly and rainy August in Michigan.  POP bracelets were available every day for $20 and a Mega Pass was available for unlimited rides for the entire fair.

Frank Zaitshik owner of Wade Shows reported that the Oklahoma State Fair was a great success and the best year ever for Wade Shows at that fair, in spite of rain over the first few days.  The midway gross and the food gross were both up as compared to last year.  Frank is looking forward to the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh where he books on with Powers Great American Midways.

The Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa reported a record attendance of 326,781 for the Sept 12 – 20 run, where the weather was perfect for the whole nine days.  Merriam’s Midway Shows provided the midway.

The Orange County Fairgrounds was placed on the auction block this past Thursday in an attempt to cut into the California state deficit.  The state department of General Services issued a request for proposals for the 150-acre property in Costa Mesa, giving bidders until Jan 8 to make offers.  Governor Schwarzenegger proposed selling three fair grounds, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and San Quentin State Prison.  The governor’s office has estimated that the Costa Mesa site could sell for $96 million to $180 million.

Raul Hoffman of Strates Shows told Carnival that this year’s fair season has been good, especially at the big fairs, in spite of lots of rain.  Strates provided 63 rides at the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem, NC, after which the train will travel to Augusta, GA and then on to Albany, GA.  Raul regrets the demise of the backend shows saying that, “all the glitter is gone.”

Midway Talk – May 19, 2009

Century 21 Shows owned by Kevin Exum of Cedar Park, Texas had a major wind, rain and hail storm while playing the Live Oak County Fair in Texas.  The show suffered over $150,000 in damages, including $30,000 worth of light bulbs and one of their fun houses blew over onto its side.  Kevin said that this season has been hit hard with heavy rain, the bad economy and the swine flu.  Local media have been encouraging people to stay at home in order to avoid the flu, causing the cancellation of several events.  The winter quarters was a busy scene with the refurbishing of the Wipe Out, Scrambler, Star Trooper, etc.  Century 21 is carrying 50 rides for the 2009 season.

Russ Kissel of Kissel Entertainment of Clayton, Alabama reported to Carnival that he was looking for good weather for a change since the past few weeks have been very rainy.  The show has signed the Trimbe County Fair in Kentucky for the 2009 season.  The Astro Wheel was refurbished at the winter quarters and is Kissel’s signature piece.  The show currently has 30 rides and sometimes works in two units

Lowery Amusements managed by Tony Lowery of Gulf Shores, Alabama said that they were looking forward to playing the Louisiana State Fair for the fourth year, Oct 22 through Nov 8.  The midway consists of 60 rides and will be supplemented by Pat Crabtree of Crabtree Amusements.  Refurbished at the winter quarters were the Tea Cups and Top Kick (built by KT Enterprises).  The show normally carries 40 rides.

The state of Massachusetts is proposing to require a permit for all carnivals and circuses that house workers in trailers.  Trailer units must have exits on both sides of the trailer, a small fire extinguisher and hand rails along the steps.

The State Fair of Virginia has settled a lawsuit filed against for-profit carnival event producer Universal Fairs, Inc., and its related companies Fair Nation, Inc. and Expo South over unfair competition through misleading statements to Fair vendors as well as infringement on the State Fair of Virginia’s trademark.  In the settlement, Tennessee-based Universal Fairs must drop the term ‘State’ from the name for their event.  In addition, Universal Fairs must change the font of their event and not use a Ferris Wheel in direct connection with the event name.  Universal Fairs must place the statement “Not affiliated with the State Fair of Virginia, Inc.” in a font or typeface size reasonably legible to the unaided eye on any promotion, advertisement, poster, guide for the event or any other written or printed materials promoting the event and the internet websites promoting the event.

Midway Talk – October 6, 2009

Vernon A. Reiter, 82, of Waterloo, Iowa, died Monday September 28, 2009 at Allen Memorial Hospital.  Vernon was the owner of Reiter Enterprises, Inc.  Survivors included his wife, four daughters, two sons, fifteen grandchildren and twelve great grand children.  Memorials may be sent to St. Edwards Catholic Church in Waterloo.

The North Carolina Department of Labor is now requiring that the center spindle of any type of Round-Up, no matter the age, model or manufacturer be tested by a certified N.D.T. technician.  Test results must be provided to the Department before the ride will be allowed to operate in N.C.  Questions may be directed to Tom Chambers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone him at 919-868-1116.

The Big E Fair in West Springfield, MA had total attendance of 1,260,487, an all time record, for the Sept 18 through Oct 4 run.  The weather, which was perfect, was given credit for the record breaking crowds.

In spite of a severe recession and an unemployment rate of 18.8%, the Puyallup, Washington fair had an all time attendance record of 1,183,035.  Fantastic weather contributed to the success of the fair, which is the largest gathering in the state each year.  Games were down but the rides and the food held their own.

The North Carolina Mountain State Fair in Asheville drew total attendance of 160,242 for the ten-day run. The largest attendance was 187,819 in 2007.  Rain plagued the midway for seven of the ten days.  Drew Expositions provided the midway.  Top grossing rides were the Chairlift, Pirate Ship, Himalaya, Enterprise and Cyclops.

Dreamland Amusements provided the midway for the third annual Tri-State Fair in Pownal, Vermont.  The weather, which has been a major problem in the northeast, held down attendance and forced some events to be cancelled.  Dreamland has added the Columbus County Fair in Whiteville, N.C. to their schedule for 2009.

Midway Talk May 28, 2009

Interstate Amusements of New Smyrna Beach, Florida has been leased to Wayne James and Kelly Weaver.  The new corporation will be operating under the name WK Events.  The show has been playing many church dates in the Florida area this spring, carrying 16 rides.  Wayne told Carnival that the gross has been off by ten to fifteen percent. The Majestic Bumper Cars was refurbished at the winter quarters.  The Chance Phaeroe’s Fury and the Slide are their steady money-makers.  The show carries 24 rides for the fair season.

Art Gillette, owner of Castlerock Shows of Pittsfield, MA will provide the midway at the Vermont State Fair, September 4 – 13, 2009.

Larson International, Inc. recently built a portable Fire Ball for Cliff’s Amusement Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  They are going to operate the ride for one season and trade it in for a large 22M Giant Loop.  The Giant Loop stands 72 feet tall, has no guy cables and will carry 28 passengers in stainless steel trains.

Another Fire Ball was recently delivered to Powers Great American Midways.  This was the 106th “Loop” produced but the first one with all LED lights.  PGAM requested the lights that will reduce the electrical draw on the ride by 100 amps.  LED lighting saves fuel for the generators, has smaller lead wires and smaller disconnects.

Barry Jamieson of World’s Finest Shows in Canada took delivery of a new Fire Ball last July.

Memphis entertainment mogul, Fred Jones, working with Ridgeland, Mississippi based North American Midway Entertainment (NAME), has approached the city of Memphis about holding a 10-day fair at the fairgrounds that would focus on an urban market.  No date for the fair has been set, Jones said, but they are looking at a date in September.  The new fair would focus on rides and entertainment and less on agriculture and crafts said Mike Williams, CEO with NAME.  Organizers of the Delta Fair (Sept 4 – 13) see nothing wrong with another fair in Memphis since the area has over a million people.

Drew Expositions of Augusta, GA provided the midway for the Teenage Carnival May 5 – 10 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC.   Jimmy Drew has been providing this midway for almost 40 years.  The midway had a lot of horsepower, offering more ride capacity than most major events, including the Huss Pirate Ship, the Super Himalaya, the Alpine Bobs, the Mega Drop and Cyclops. (the big version of the Freakout)  The 2010 dates for the Teenage Carnival will be May 11 – 16.  Drew will be returning to North Carolina for the N.C. Mountain State Fair in Asheville Sept 11 – 20 after a three year absence.  In 1950 Mack McGough, Joe McKennon and James Drew, Jr. started a fair in Asheville, N.C. called the Asheville Inter-Mountain Fair that lasted only two years.  Jimmy indicated that he and his staff will miss working with Frank Zaitshik of Wade Shows this season. “Zaitshik is known for his great management team,” says Jimmy.

Smokey Mountain Amusements of Robbinsville, N.C., owned by Billy and Sue Clark, has purchased two new kiddie rides:  a Dalton Quad Runner and a Majestic Wiggle Worm.  Billy indicated that he and Kevin Dalton have found the Quad Runner is usually the top grossing in kiddieland.  The show has also added a used Popcorn trailer.   Billy hopes that by the beginning of fair season,  the monsoon will go away.