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Midway Talk

Thomas Carnival, based in Austin, Texas, is refurbishing its Thunderbolt, with new paint and overall maintenance. Thomas’ John Hanschen reported this information when reached at a Texas festival in March. Thomas had already opened the season in Brownsville (Winterfest) and Laredo (George Washington Birthday Celebration), but Hanschen was still excited to speak about the newest tour stop last August in Idaho. “The Twin Falls County Fair is one week before we play the Utah State Fair, so it worked out very well for us. We were very happy with it and the people were very nice.” Hanschen added that Thomas’ 11-state route in 2014 is identical to last year. Thomas’ newest rides are a Wisdom Monster Trucks and an S & S Frog Hopper.

Blue Sky Amusements and Entertainment (Islandia, NY) is busy preparing for its 40-date 2014 season, which opened Easter weekend in Kearney, N.J. Blue Sky's Bill Reiss said that the show's RipTide is being completely refurbished. "We've got it down to the chassis right now, re-doing the bearings, valves, some steel work and on up." Reiss added that LEDs had already been added to their RipTide, Zipper, Gondola Wheel and Merry-Go-Round. New for Blue Sky's 2014 tour is another kiddie ride -- Motorcycle Jump. A Quad Runner had been added last year as Reiss says, "We needed to upgrade our umbrella rides a little." Reiss runs the business with his wife, Susan, and children, Michael, Katie and Billy.

A Goldstar Puppy Roll and Wisdom Monster Trucks are new rides this year for Rainbow Valley Rides (Custer, Wis.), but co-owner Chip Kedrowicz is already looking toward making an even larger impact in 2015. Kedrowicz says that a KMG Freak Out, bought 10 years ago, has paid dividends and Rainbow Valley hopes to duplicate that success. "We're looking for that next big thing -- like a 'Freak Out,' something with 'wow' factor and heavy return ridership."

Rainbow Valley began its 25-ride, 20-week tour on May 1, at Regency Mall in Racine, Wisc. The show has added one new stop, a church festival near Milwaukee in June.

Brady’s Amusements (Valdosta, Ga.) featured two new rides when the show opened in Princeton, Ind., on April 5. Owner Martin Brady also reported that his company has purchased a Dizzy Dragon and Eli High Five for the 2014 tour. Brady’s Amusements has also added two new dates to its season – a spring festival in Denton, Ill., and a June fair in Kentucky. Brady, in business with his wife, Elizabeth, look forward to their eighth full season, a 30-event, 25-ride tour. Brady also acknowledged the work of sister-in-law Yvette Marconi, who heads game operations and logistics for the company.

Rosedale Attractions & Shows (Baltimore, Md.) had a very active off-season, according to owner Thomas Gaylin III. At the IISF Trade Show in Florida, Gaylin was busy, “dropping $100,000 on aesthetics. We bought new uniforms for the staff (50 full-time, 75-part-time), flags, entrance/exit signs, vinyl wraps for the Skeeball trailer and ticket boxes, 10,000 LED bulbs and 250 LED light bars,” said Gaylin. More big news was the fact that Rosedale bought four new rides – a Battech Cliff Hanger, a Goldstar Puppy Roll and two inflatables from Wapello. Gaylin added that refurbishments were made to a Chance Trabant, an Owen Mardi Gras Glass House and a Rock-n-Roll and the LED purchase and work was “the final step in a five-year process.” Rosedale, a 32-ride show, opened the second week of April, right at home at the Baltimore County Colgate Park Festival. Gaylin said that Rosedale has added a new date for 2014, the Chesterfield County Fair, near Richmond, Va., beginning Aug. 22.

T.J. Schmidt & Company (Standish, Mich.) has added four new rides for its 2014 tour – a Cliffhanger, a Zipper, an Eagle 16 Ferris Wheel and a Mulligan Swing. Business manager Doug Burtch also reported that T.J. Schmidt refurbished its Eli Scrambler and Sellner Wind Jammer during the winter. Burtch added that the show also purchased two 28-foot refrigerated trailers for concessions operations and a 500-kw generator from Showman Supply.   T.J. Schmidt, a 25-ride carnival, was scheduled to open on April 11 in Grand Rapids. The company has added two new dates for 2014 – the Western Michigan Fair in Ludington and the 76th Annual Pickeral Festival on July 4, in Algonac, Mich.

Frazier Shows (Scottsdale, Ariz.) added a brand new KMG Freak Out ($875,000) late in the 2013 campaign, so the ride will still be a new attraction to the first half of the 2014 tour. Frazier owner Steve Broetsky also is pleased with the show’s KMG Experience, one of two in the United States (the other belongs to Ray Cammack Shows). Broetsky also reported that Frazier has been gradually converting its 30 trucks over to Peterbilt brand. Frazier began its long, 44-week season on Feb. 15-March 1 at the Casa Grande Cowboy and Indian Rodeo. Broetsky added that he missed the IISF Trade Show for the first time in 35 years but for a very good reason: Daughter Ashley Frazier Scales gave birth to Steve and Julie Broetsky’s fifth grandson, Jaxson, on Feb. 16. In fact, another daughter, Andrea Frazier Tobias, was due to deliver the family’s first granddaughter on April 22. Still another family note: Steve and Julie, who met while working on the Dell and Travers Carnival, celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary on March 24. The couple’s son, Stephen Thomas, is the show’s general manager and another son, Bryan, may also return to Frazier after college at Arizona State. “We have been truly blessed as a family and with this business,” said Broetsky. “I was just a kid from New York City who had never seen a carnival until I worked in one.” Broetsky was concession manager for Deggeller Attractions before purchasing Frazier Shows in 2002.

Bates Bros. Amusement Company (Wintersville, Ohio) has purchased six new Otterbacher bunk houses, 45-foot units that sleep 21 people in each, according to owner Eric Bates. In a very busy winter, Bates said that the company also has added new Frenzy and Frog Hopper rides, along with refurbishing its Ring of Fire and Rock-O-Plane. Bates was excited to report that all of the changes were in time for the I-X Indoor Amusement Park in Cleveland (March 21-April 20), which his show has played for 25 years. Bates’ 50-ride show plays 45 locations, covering 1,800 miles, with a staff of 140 during peak times. Bates Bros has added three new stops for 2014: The Eden (N.Y.) Corn Festival, the McKean County Fair in Smethport, Pa., and the North East Festival in North East, Pa. “All of the new locations will work well to streamline our regular route,” said Bates.

Family Fun Shows (Mankato, Minn.), did some “old fashioned horse trading” during the winter, according to owner Greg Hughes. The show purchased a Tornado and popcorn and cotton candy wagon from Myers International and sold its Chance Trabant to a park in Panama City, Fla. Family Fun Shows, incorporated in 1996, also bought a used Fun House. The company, operated by Greg and his wife, Gail, begins its 20-week run in May, with 18-20 rides. Three of the couple’s children, Bob, Jason, and Angela are also involved with the business. Another son, Justin, is studying meteorology at St. Cloud State University.

Kevin Tate of Capitol City Amusements reports a very busy off season for his Sacramento, Calif.-based business. Among the purchases was a new Tractor Ride from Dalton Kid Rides in Gibtown. Capitol City also bought a Chance Carousel (3 abreast), a Super Slide (its second one) and a funnel cake/ice cream concession stand, in addition to two new tractor trailers. Kevin, who owns Capitol City with his wife, Jane, also said that LEDs from Denny’s Electronics were added to a vintage Miller Roller Coaster, a Century Wheel, a Zipper, a fun house and a one-of-a-kind Wisdom Himalaya, which was since renamed Typhoon. “We’re really pleased with the LED work from Denny’s,” said Kevin, who added that the Spring dates so far have been “pretty spectacular.” Capitol City had rain-outs in both Sacramento and Stockton, but the rescheduled weeks went better than expected. Assisting the Tates with the carnival are their children, Micheal, assistant manager, and Nicole, candy wagon manager. Two other children are serving their country in the military – Sharon (U.S. Navy) and Frank (U.S. Marine Corps). The Tates are expecting two new grandchildren in May and June, “just in time for fair season,” chuckled Kevin.

Dennis and Joanne Lynch of D.C. Lynch Shows (Chapman, Neb.) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on March 21. A day later, the couple enjoyed an anniversary party given by their sons, Dennis Jr. and Mike, and their five grandchildren. The couple, after running their carnival for 39 years, recently sold the business to son Mike. According to Dennis Sr., he has not retired. “I’ll still be doing the same thing, just not getting paid,” he quipped. Dennis Sr.’s stepfather, Roy Harvey, started the business in 1957 and ran it for 17 years. Dennis Sr. reported that the show sold its Skymaster during the offseason and “rebuilt our Tilt-a-Whirl from scratch, as our shop is open all winter.” Lynch Shows opens its 31-date tour on May 2 in Grand Island, Neb.

A&A Attractions (Fairbury, Ill.) changed its name during the offseason, from Big H Amusements, which it had been since 1998, according to owner Sue Headley. The 25-ride A&A Attractions carnival is owned and operated by Sue and husband, Kevin Headley. Sue reported that A&A is in the process of refurbishing a popcorn wagon from the chassis up and also recently added a Hampton Combo kiddie ride. A&A will keep its route, which begins in early May, the same as in 2013. ■