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Midway Talk

After a cancelled fair in 2011, the North Dakota State Fair has returned with surge in 2012. In fact, the fair is on track to break their overall attendance number set in 2010. According to the Associated Press, “…almost 120,000 people attended the first three days [this year]. That’s more than the 2010 pace, a year when a record 308,641 people went through the gates.” The 2012 fair ran from July 20 – 28 in Minot, ND. A flooded river caused the cancellation of the fair in 2011. The midway is provided by Murphy Bros. Expositions.

Mighty Thomas Carnival of Austin, Texas took delivery of a Zamperla Surf’s Up in July. It is one of only two such rides in the United States, and the only one on a traveling show. Surf’s Up debuted at the West Otter Tail County Fair in Fergus Falls, Minnesota July 18 – 21.

Corky Powers of Powers Great American Midways told Carnival Magazine that the show took delivery of a new Wisdom Genesis in July. Also arriving in time for the Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg, Maryland August 10 – 18 is a new information booth provided by Denny’s Electronics. The show will take delivery of a new ARM Rock Star as well as 10 new ticket booths from Midway Stainless Fabricators at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh, October 11 – 21. PGAM will also take delivery on 4 new Gull Wing Generators.  

As the Calgary Stampede celebrated its 100th anniversary it also recorded its highest attendance record in history with 1.4 million fairgoers attending the July 6 – 15 event. The previous record was set in 2006 with about 147,000 less in attendance than in 2012. North American Midway Entertainment provides the midway at the Calgary Stampede. See last month’s issue for a full story on N.A.M.E. at the Stampede.

Butler Amusements provided the midway for the 100th edition of the Alameda County Fair. A record 534,557 people attended the event, which broke the previous record attendance mark by 18 percent. The previous record was just set last year with 452,747 in attendance. The event ran from June 20 – July 8 (closed Mondays). New rides this year included Butler’s White Water Flume Ride. The five-trailer spectacular piece made its debut on the Butler midway earlier this year at the Merced County Spring Fair in Los Banos, CA. The ride was acquired from an amusement park and completely refurbished by Butler Amusements prior to the 2012 season.

Christina Lochmiller, a 32-year-old woman from Roseville, California broke the record for longest ride on Butler Amusement’s Eli Bridge Eagle 16 Ferris Wheel at the California State Fair. She began her attempt on Monday morning, July 26 and concluded 26 hours, 43 minutes, and 46 seconds later without sleep. The record was short lived as radio disc jockey, Robbie Gibson, followed up with a 30 hour, 35 second stint on the same ride. Both feats were recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records. The California State Fair ran from July 12 – 29 in Sacramento. Butler Amusements provided 68 rides at the event.

Also making news at the California State Fair was the world’s largest cocktail. The 10,500 gallon margarita included 2,100 gallons of Jose Cuervo tequila as well as copious amounts of margarita mix, ice, water, and lime juice. A total of four gallons of Cointreau was also used. The drink, called Calarita, was provided by Nick Nicora of Ovations Food Servcies. After the drink was recorded by the Guinness Book of World Record, the concessionaire began selling portions of the cocktail on the fairgrounds. Samples of the Calarita could be purchased along with a souvenir cup.

Helms & Son’s Carnival saw record attendance at the Santa Barbara County Fair in Santa Maria, California when 161,000 fairgoers attended the July 11 – 15 event. This was the second consecutive year of record attendance for the Santa Barbara County Fair. This was the 121st edition of the fair.

Skinner’s Amusements of Crystal Lake, Illinois provided the midway for the 84th time at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake, IL, July 25 – 29. The show offered new rides this year including a Slide and Baja Buggy. They also provided their Eli 16 Ferris Wheel with new Maxtron LEDs.

Playworld Amusements of Alma, Michigan returned to the Ionia Free Fair in Ionia, MI, July 19 – 28. The event was cancelled in 2011 due to heavy rains and nearby flooding. This year Playworld provided 36 rides at the fair including new pieces such as a Remix, Rave, funhouse, the new Dalton Tractor ride (Down on the Farm), and another Dalton piece.  

The Nebraska State Fair is beefing up their marketing campaign and budget in the month leading up the event. According to the Lexington Clipper-Herald, the fair board agreed to allocate an additional $30,000 into their marketing budget. The funds will promote a State Fair Fan Club and phone app. The 2012 Nebraska State Fair runs from August 24 – September 3 in Grand Island, Nebraska. Belle City Amusements will provide the midway this year. Wade Shows has been announced as the midway provider beginning in 2013; they are also installing a Sky Ride on the State Fairgrounds that will be open this year.

The Big Kahuna Donut Dog is coming to the New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY August 23 – September 3. The midway food item consists of a bacon-wrapped hot dog sandwiched inside of a maple glazed long john donut. The New York State Fair midway is provided by James E. Strates Shows.

The Wisconsin State Fair introduced their new independent midway themed, Spin City. This is the first year the state fair has hosted an independent midway. About 24 providers offered over 50 rides at the August 2 – 12 event in West Allis, WI. Premiering at the event will be Sky Attractions new KMG pieces, the Fun Factory and Stratosphere. The Stratosphere is the tallest portable chain swing ever made, reaching 214-feet in the air. It is the only one of its kind in the United States. Look for a full report from the Wisconsin State Fair in next month’s magazine.