Midway Talk, September Issue
The 2011 North Dakota State Fair has been cancelled due to severe flooding from the Mouse (Souris) River in Minot, ND. The annual event was slated for July 22 – 30 with an all-star entertainment lineup and midway provided by Murphy Brothers Expositions and Reed Exposition. While floodwaters were no longer rising they had already affected the state fairgrounds and were receding at a slower pace than expected. Murphy Brothers Expositions provided a midway in Fargo, ND at the FargoDome parking lot in place of the State Fair. The carnival will donate a portion of their proceeds from the Fargo event to help with flood relief. Similarly, Reed Exposition will provide a midway in Bismarck, ND and also donate a part of the proceeds to flood relief in Minot. The North Dakota State Fair is already planning for the comeback year in 2012.
More than 147,000 fairgoers attended this year’s Santa Barbara County Fair in Santa Maria, California. The fair ran from July 13 – July 17 at the Santa Maria Fairpark. The exact number of attendees was 147,363, which is 17 percent higher than 2010’s number of 126,173. The previous record was set in 2009 when attendance reached 133,200. Opening day, Wednesday, July 13 was the busiest with 47,000 on hand for Dollar Day (both gate admission and carnival rides were $1.00). This year’s theme was Bright Lights, Magical Nights and featured main stage acts: Clint Black, Boyz II Men, and Rick Springfield. This was the 120th year for the Santa Barbara County Fair. The midway was provided by Helms & Sons of Colton, CA.
Preliminary numbers from the 2011 California State Fair are positive across the board. According to newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, as of Friday, July 22, paid attendance increased by 17 percent compared to last year. The Bee also reported a 33 percent increase in spending on the midway as well as food and drink concessions up by 24 percent. The California State Fair ran from July 14 – 31. Butler Amusements provided the midway, which offered 68 rides.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the Illinois State Fair’s permanent Giant Slide has been sold to an undisclosed buyer. The 40-foot tall, 130-foot long attraction has been on the fairgrounds since 1968. The most recent owner of the slide was Dennis Herrington who purchased it in 1995. The new owner plans to keep the Giant Slide in operation at the Illinois State Fair.
World’s Finest Shows of Ontario will provide the midway for the first Midway Magic event in Ottawa. The event is replacing Ottawa’s SuperEX, which had been held in Lansdowne Park since 1888. SuperEX was cancelled due to funding and redevelopment of the surrounding land. Magic Midway is being organized by Joe Pavia, a former member of SuperEX. World’s Finest Shows had provided the midway for SuperEX for the past 14 years. The new event will feature rides, games, a petting zoo, food concessions, and music entertainment. Admission is free and ride specials are available prior to opening day, August 19. The event will run through August 28. New rides for World’s Finest Shows this season include a Musik Express and Wacky Worm Coaster.
Roger Wadkins of Sherwood Amusements in Upper Falls, Maryland reports they have just finished rebuilding their Paratrooper. The refurbished ride includes all new LED lighting. Roger indicated that their season was beginning to pick up steam after being affected by a wet spring.
Josh Kinley of Strates Shows informed Carnival Magazine that the carnival purchased four passenger cars. They were acquired from the Northeastern New York Railroad Preservation Group this year.
The Oakland County Fair in Davisburg, MI set a new attendance record in 2011 with 95,000 patrons. The fair took place Tuesday, July 12 – Sunday, July 17. Playworld Amusements of Alma, MI provided the midway. “The fair and carnival worked together to provide a greener midway including using a mix of soy bio-diesel in our generators,” says Kyle Brady of Playworld Amusements. Many of the rides along the midway had a fresh paint scheme and new LED lighting, which added a different look from last year’s event. According to Kyle, the most popular rides at this year’s fair were the Mulligan Wheel fitted with MAXTRON color changing LED’s; the Fabbri G-Force, and the KMG Freak Out. It was a pay-one-price midway with POP ranging from $12 to $20 depending on daily promotions. As part of the fair, Playworld Amusements participated in a Special Needs Day. Playworld Amusements reports that the season has been going well and been very encouraging when the weather is good. High fuel prices have been a challenge, but the transition to bio-diesel helped at the Oakland County Fair. The carnival’s newest attraction, “The Rave” is set to debut at this year’s Minnesota State Fair.
Cody Casper of PBJ Happee Day Shows updated Carnival Magazine on the carnival’s season. Cody reports that the season has been positive, particularly after a rainy spring. PBJ had a huge scare earlier this year when the Mississippi River crested higher than it had in nearly 100 years due to flooding. “With our winter quarters only a few miles into Arkansas it was a little exciting keeping an eye on the levee system,” says Cody. “Word was if the levee broke there would be five-feet of water covering the town. We stuck it out and all prevailed thanks to the core of engineers.” Cody also reports that two purchases in recent years—the KMG Nemesis and Owen Monkey Maze—are doing great on the midway. They are currently in the market for a new attraction, but are unsure what the ride will be. They plan on deciding before next spring.
N.A.M.E. reported a 25 percent increase in attendance compared to 2010 at the 2011 Red River Ex in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The number broke the existing record set in 1997. N.A.M.E. also broke a record at this year’s Manitoba Summer Fair in Brandon, MB and was up in attendance at the Calgary Stampede by over 29,000 fairgoers. Stateside, N.A.M.E. faced bad weather at the 40th annual St. Mary Polish Country Fair in Orchard Lake, MI. Severe weather led to the issuing of a tornado warning during the fair. “Approximately 10,000 fairgoers and employees were evacuated, most of those going to the ice arena on the campus,” according to N.A.M.E. “All of the rides re-opened safely one hour after the storm passed.”
Also from N.A.M.E., “The Tennessee State Fair has been revived by the newly formed Tennessee State Fair Association (TSFA).” N.A.M.E. and Rockhouse Partners produced the event in 2010. Davidson County’s local government produced the event prior to 2010. The TSFA is composed of State agricultural leaders and prominent business people from around the State. According to N.A.M.E., “the fair will remain at the traditional Tennessee State Fairgrounds through 2012, while the TSFA searches for a site in the Nashville area for fairs beginning in 2013.” This year’s theme is “Long Live the Fair.” Dates in 2011 are September 9 – 19.
Lowery Carnival Co. of Gulf Shores, Alabama and the Boone County Fair in Columbia, Missouri offered a pay-one-price option at this year’s event, July 22 – 30. This was the first time POP was offered at the event. Daily passes that included gate admission, access to grandstand acts, and unlimited rides were available for $20. A week-long super-saver pass was $50. The carnival told Jodie Jackson Jr. of the Columbia Daily Tribune that “more fairs and carnivals are moving to the one-price approach. ‘People like it. We like it.’”
Dates for the IISF Trade Show and Extravaganza have been set for 2012. The Gibtown event will run from Tuesday, February 7 through Saturday, February 11. The Trade Show Kick-Off Party is slated for Sunday, February 5 followed by the 4th Annual Big Hearted Jerry Memorial Golf Tournament on Monday, February 6. The installation of next year’s IISA Officers will follow the trade show on Tuesday, February 14. You may contact Trade Show Secretary, Teresa L. Rimes for more information on the event and advertising opportunities in the Trade Show Directory.
Carnival Magazine learned sadly that Otto L. Pfeffer passed away on July 8. Otto was owner and operator of Otto's Amusements since 1956. As described in his obituary, "He was an industry icon and devoted his entire lifetime to his business." Otto was a charter member of the PA State Showman's Association as well as a past director and past president. He was also a member of the Greater Tampa Showman's Association, the Miami Showman's Club, and the Outdoor Amusement Business Association. We express our deepest condolences to Otto's family and all at Otto's Amusements. ■