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  • Antelope Valley Fair: Short Term Increases & Long Term Results
    The Antelope Valley Fair - technically still known as the Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival, which ran  August 15 -24, saw a modest increase in attendance and revenue for 2014. The Antelope Valley Fair had an attendance of 195,700, an increase of about 3 percent over 2013, with revenue  up 3.4 percent. But the uptick indicates that this rural fair has remained on a steady growth track, despite a soft local economy.

    The fair takes place in Lancaster, located in northern Los Angeles County (about 75 miles north of Los Angeles), an area known as the high desert, which is still suffering from a sluggish business climate. Unemployment is about 17 percent, and especially during the height of the recession, "people were struggling to save money and things were tight," said Debbie Smith, Deputy Manager. 

    The 2013 edition fair saw things turn around for the fair and it was a "banner year, after a few lean years."  She added that attendance and revenue were up in the double digit percentage range over 2012. For 2014, even though the increases are modest "they were headed in the right direction, but it followed a very, very good year," said Smith. 

    Because the high desert economy is still not as healthy as one could hope, there was trepidation that last year may have been more of a fluke fair than a new normal. A small but steady increase indicates that the growing strength of the Antelope Valley Fair is sustainable. "The fair did exceed our expectations," said Smith. "We wanted to meet the same numbers as last year, but given that we went above those numbers, we are very pleased." 

    Given this scenario, it is even more remarkable that the midway ride gross was up 10.4 percent, outpacing increases recorded at both the admission gate and other fair segments. The RCS midway, in their 5th Antelope Valley Fair, featured 55 rides, including  25 kiddie rides,  45 games and 10 food.  It seems the that the main factor in getting this boost in gross sales was the quality of the presentation. "They do a beautiful carnival, the best in the nation," said Smith. "They have an excellent, family run midway, keen on safety and customer service."

    Familiarity also seems a factor fueling RCS ride growth. The Antelope Valley fan base for RCS has expanded year in and year out. "People are use to us," explained Tony Fiori, Vice President of Marketing, RCS. "We have been here for five years and they've adapted to our midway, there's more anticipation every year. We've proven ourselves to them." 

    In addition to building upon their base of support, the advanced sales wristbands were expanded to include additional outlets, "the fair keeps getting better and they do a terrific job with their marketing," said Fiori. 

    Pre-Fair $20 wristband were now valid daily (except for Saturdays),  and the fair added an additional local supermarket chain selling the wristbands to three existing  supermarket chains: Albertsons, Von's  and Vallarta Supermarkets. "This year, for Vallarta, the $6 Pre-Fair Admission tickets and $20 Pre-Fair Rides wristbands were sold via individual cashiers and customer service booths," said Wendy Bozigian, Marketing Manager. "Additionally, we had other smaller local businesses help sell the tickets, George's Cleaners, Edwards Federal Credit Union, etc." 

    According to Fiori, Elegant Splash, a children's water ride, "was very popular, and our Grand Wheel is always a favorite. The G-Force roller coaster was probably the number one." 

    Overall, Fiori describes Antelope Valley as "a strong, medium sized-fair. The fair and the carnival, are hitting on all cylinders and they are getting the promotions right," said Fiori.

    Drought & Marketing
    One worry for all fairs in the Golden State this year was the severe drought and mandated water usage restrictions. That threat proved to be a minimal factor affecting the fair. The drought "has not really impacted the fair, except the cost of water is higher," said Smith. "The drought has been ongoing, and drought is not new to California. People are learning to conserve water. We are using more arid landscaping. We have less lawn, and our water usage has gone 40-45 percent."
    The fair's advertising budget is $240,000, with billboards and bus-sides and other mass transit ads on the rises. Three radio stations had locations at the fair as a trade-out advertising, that included airtime on radio and some live broadcasts for added promotion. The fair expanded its presence on social media, with 4,000 more likes this year than last. "We used Twitter and Facebook in a big way, and we are seeing a big bump in younger people attending the fair. These are people who don't read the newspaper and that's how we reach them.

    Social Media was emphasized in this year's marketing for the fair's paid concerts. The paid concerts tickets generally ranged from $15 - $ 75; headliners included Kool & the Gang/The Commodores;  Montgomery Gentry/John Michael; O'Jays/Keith Sweat and Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as ain  Hispanic night featuring: Espinoza Paz and El Coyote y su Tierra. To boost its paid concert series, the fair offered a VIP pass for some shows, which included backstage admittance, a chance to meet the artists, a limo ride to and from the fair, and a VIP past on a lanyard. The most VIP passes were sold for Lynard Skynard. 

    "We stepped it up significantly with our Social Media activity on the Fair's Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts," said Bozigian. "We created a Backstage Blowout Sweepstakes where we awarded three pairs of backstage passes to three sets of winners per the six nights of concerts.  In addition to the backstage passes the winners were given Gold Circle seats, including dinners on the Director's Patio and VIP parking.  All the entrant had to do for a chance to win was "like" the Fair on Facebook.  This promotion was hugely successful.  For the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, over 4,000 people entered." 

    The concert series generated about $544,927 in gross sales  (not including pre-fair $6 tix amount). Smith added that building a concert line-up this year, "was a little more difficult. We only have a window of six days to have shows, and routing has to be done very quickly. We can put our tickets on sale as early as April or as late as June."

    She added that this year booking decisions took longer than usual and it was more of a sellers market when it came to entertainment booking. As a result, promoting the concert series began in late instead of early spring. 

    The free music stages featured local bands the Vallarta Supermarkets Variety Stage and local dance companies' performances on the Camacho Auto Sales Community stage. In the fair's Cornoa Cantina venue, tribute bands predominated, including "Metallachi," a heavy metal mariachi band, "Night Moves" - tribute to Bob Seger; Generation Idol - a salute to Billy Idol, and "Garret Wilkins & The Parrotheads  -- a salute to Jimmy Buffet.

    Rural Olympics
    The Antelope Valley Fair heavily promotes opening day, with free admission and parking. "Opening Day is historically our biggest day, and historically it's the end of the summer," said Smith. "People come back to the fair, because they see what we have to offer and we have other events, like our Rural Olympics, that have a following." 

    Rural Olympics is a signature event of the Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival, which feature different competitions using farm machinery, such as a Harobed Race - a tribute to the Alfalfa industry that is still enshrined in the fair's name, as the Antique Car Potato Race. "These events are very popular and keep the roots of the fair," said Smith. 

    The Antelope Valley event featured 32 food vendors, with revenue up 10 percent, generating about $1.2 million, according to Smith. The boost in food sales, Smith attributes to the weather. "People didn't go home as soon as the concerts ended, it was not too hot and they stayed longer at the fair."

    Funnel Cake Outreach
    Asked what fair cuisine was the most popular were Funnel Cakes from Mike Davis's Toucan Enterprises, using as evidence her own informal survey. "At the end of the night, we were at the gates and everyone it seemed was taking home wrapped funnel cakes, I don't know if they were the biggest sellers, but they sold a lot and were the most popular take home food." 

    The reason Smith actually gathered visual evidence of funnel cake to go was that she was part of a new fair promotion that enlisted fair executive staff to more directly engage with fairgoers - "Good Nighters." 

    According to Bozigian, " various departments sent people out to the Main Gate at later evening shifts to say good night to Fair attendees.  The activity was as first resisted until people started participating and enjoyed the interaction.  The exchange of information provided us with insight as to how many plush animals were won in the carnival, what kinds of food were being taken home." Bozigian agreed with Smith that the most popular food was funnel cake.

    Increases in attendance and sales may be the surface achievement of this year's Antelope Valley Fair, but more long lasting results may have been accomplished by the outreach initiated by the "Good Nighters" program. Shortening the distance between executive staff and fairgoers - the end-users of the product fair organizers produce - creates a practical opportunity for useful data collection about what customers thought worked best about the fair. 

    Augmenting this new outreach initiative is the fact that the executive staff were clearly identified. All staff during the fair had to wear buttons and wristbands reading: "You Matter to the Antelope Valley Fair". 
    The Good Nighters program and "You Matter" put us in direct contact with our customers," said Bozigian. "Wearing the wristbands/pins tied the staff together with a common message for our Fair attendees."

  • Spending Jumps at Oklahoma State Fair
    In spite of some rainy weekend times,  the 11-day Oklahoma State Fair - September 11-21 -recorded attendance of about 900,000, about the same as last year, but had significant increases in revenue, especially for midway and food sales. 

    Certainly one conclusion is this fair is doing something right, but another implicit judgment is at the Oklahoma State Fair, people are spending more and perhaps more people paying the fair more than one visit to fully partake of this end of summer celebration of everything Sooner State.

    Economy & Weather
    The economy is also one, although very qualified, factor. "We feel the economy is as strong as it ever was but we were not hit as hard by the recession as other parts of the country," said J. Scott Munz, Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations. "We had a downturn, but it never really hit attendance. If people are spending more than the previous year, the economy must be healthier."

    The weather was cooperative, sort of.  "The weather was mostly good, we had a few bumps," he said. "The Fair opened to good weather that lasted only one day.  The second day of the Fair, a Friday, saw rain and unseasonably cold temperatures. The weather rebounded for the weekend.  Due to the hurricane coming out of Mexico, the weather for the second weekend was predicted to be bad but fortunately the weather pattern stayed way south of us and the final weekend was held under sunshine and blue skies."

    Because the weekend weather predictions were dire, Munz feels this may have pushed attendance up on that Friday because people felt this may have been their last chance to be part of the annual event. "The second Friday (September 19) was a record Friday day for the carnival. More people came out on that Friday because they wanted to makes sure they got to the fair because of the forecast for the rest of the weekend," said Munz. 

    Midway Revenue Up
    That day was also a record Friday for rides. The Oklahoma State Fair Midway, by Wade Shows, had what said Frank Zaitshik, President/CEO, Wade Shows Inc., said  "... was our highest Friday at the fair." 

    He added that overall, the Oklahoma State Fair midway had a "record breaking year."

    In addition, the fair reported that on-site sales for the carnival increased by 17 percent, and the advance sale unlimited carnival ride armbands, distributed exclusively through Walgreens, grew by 35 percent. "Our Gold Access program tripled in sales, it was our third year in that program and the enlightened management understands the value of putting the customer first," said Zaitshik. "We are constantly improving our advanced ticket sales."

    Zaitshik pointed out that the Oklahoma State Fair shaved off a few days of their event, which has eventually  increased revenue for the midway. "The fair has grown by leaps and bound, since the change in the format," said Zaitshik. "Many fairs are going from three weekends to four weeks,  but they went from three weekends to two, and that was the right decision, our revenue has gone up well into the seven figures."

    The extra weekend can act as "weather insurance," said Zaitshik, who admitted he wasn't crazy about the idea when it was first implemented. "But in hindsight, it is a better fair than it ever was. Every day is a special day." 

    The Oklahoma Midway featured three Wade Roller Coasters - the Comet II, the Spinning Mouse, and the Crazy Cat as well as the Delusion and the Huss Rainbow. In addition, Wade Shows showcased their coalition partner, Michael Woods, with the Magnum, Remix and Magic Maze, "we had a powerful team. This year was possibly our finest presentation."
    Bacon Bonanza
    The Oklahoma State Fair featured 125 food booths, not including the midway food booths on the carnival.  Food sales increased 7 percent, again outpacing an essentially flat attendance, indicating that people were spending more in this fair. "Contributing to the food gross was the return of the discount coupon book, sold through local non-profit groups and also on-site," he said.

    A dizzying array of Bacon concoctions dominated this year's  new food offerings, including: Bacon Explosion Sundae -  Vanilla ice cream smothered in bacon bits and caramel sauce, topped with a mound of whip cream, sprinkled with more bacon and a cherry - Honey Bun Bacon; Bacon Bloomin' Onion; Deep-Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll; Caveman Turkey Leg - Giant Turkey Leg Wrapped with 1 lb. of Bacon and Bacon Wrapped Jack Daniels Churro. "Bacon is always popular at the fair, but in the last two or three years, we've had a lot more bacon products," said Munz. He added that the three most talked about food items were the Bacon Cheese Curds, the Caveman Turkey Leg and "the Deep-Fried Giant Gummy Bear on a Stick."

    Perennial favorites were cream puffs and a local favorite, the Indian Taco.

    In addition, the fair modified its layout of the food vendors, adding more open space and seating. "There were continuous food vendors, but each one was serviced by a table and picnic places," he said. 

    The new design encouraged lingering. "People didn't feel they had to keep moving, if they wanted to stop and enjoy their corn dog, there were more opportunities for that."  

    Social Media Matures 
    While weather is always key, Munz emphasized that a dominant factor increasing revenue for the fair was taking social media marketing more seriously. "We are moving away from the traditional media, and social media is reaching younger people," said Munz. "We've been involved with social media for three to four years, but this year we hired employees who's primary responsibility is social media. We realized you cannot use social media to its fullest with just a part-time employee or a volunteer. You need a trained professional now." 

    The Oklahoma State Fair Facebook page has 55,000 "likes" and 15,000 twitter followers. YouTube and Instagram are also crucial components to their social media presence.  While this new platform is expanding for the fair - and is usage is evolving - Munz is aware of the social media's unique aspects.  "The key is the suddenness, you want to post with frequency and relevancy, but you don't want to inundate," he said. "If you can engage fairgoers in relevant comments, you can have a valuable exchange."

    One of the contests conducted via social media was voting on favorite fair foods - it was formatted as a "favorite four competition." It began in back in March (which dovetailed with March Madness, a similar competitive format). "We got people thinking about fair foods, which are foods they can only get at other times of the year, like funnel cakes and corndogs," said Munz. 

    For those scoring on their laptops or smart phone, the record showed corn dogs winning. 
    Anniversary Concert
    The highlight of the music series was the Charlie Daniels Band, performed at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Xtreme Bulls Tour at the Jim Norick State Fair  Arena. For Daniels - "The Devil Went to Georgia" may have made him a star, but his heart belongs in Oklahoma. He and his wife Hazel marked their 50th wedding anniversary on the stage - turns out they married in Oklahoma and Hazel was born and raised in Tulsa. 

    Jerrod Niemann also perfumed with Xtreme Bulls. 

    "Charlie has been here before, his anniversary brought us extra publicity, "said Munz.

    The fair's free concerts, featured on the Chickasaw Entertainment Stage, include Colt Ford, Kansas, Easton Corbin, La Authentica Banda Jerez, Elvis Extravaganza, S.O.S. Band, Grand Funk Railroad and Beatlemania LIVE!

    According to the Munz, the free shows brought out some diehard classic rock fans. "With Kansas, the night was cold, but the crowd was fantastic, people came out wearing gloves and ski coats. Beatlemania LIVE! also drew a lot of people. It was the 50th anniversary of their  (the Beatles's)  Ed Sullivan show appearance. The Beatles are always popular, but the interest in the Fab Four was top of mind this summer."

    He added, "the S.O.S. Band, was our Urban night, and the crowd was huge. It was our largest crowd for the Summer" 

    While Munz credits Dave Snowden of Triangle Talent for booking a successful line up, this year was challenging. "It  constantly is a sellers market, some acts are ridiculously raising prices, and you have to fight with other venues," said Munz. "I started in Vegas (at the annual IAFE Convention & Trade Show) last year for this year. In the last couple of years, it has gotten harder, and you get in bidding war. It used to be more of a buyers market."

    One of the main challenges is gauging popularity in the post-record label collapse world of streaming music and iTunes downloads. "Popularity is hard to gauge, it is not as tangible as it was in the days of traditional radio, where you knew who had a hit and could put butts in the seats."

    Selecting the optimum headliners in the ever changing music industry landscapes exemplifies the challenges a fair manager faces - how to retain the traditional feel of the fair which draws people in every year, while also keeping it new and exciting so new fairgoers are recruited. "We've been here since 1907, and as much as you want to keep it fresh and keep from getting stale, you want to build on traditions," he said.

    Exemplifying how he finds this balance, Munz cited two exhibits that delighted Oklahoma State Fair attendees in 2014. A first for this fair, the Extreme Raptors Show - a bird exhibit, and the Zoppe Italian Family Circus, which is a traditional single ring circuses. "You want those traditional elements, and you want new offerings that are variations on the theme," he said. "You want to come up with a that mix that satisfies the old customers and intrigues the new." 

  • Fearing Carnival Consolidation, Canada's Western Fair Inks 10-Year Deal with NAME
    Another midway has lost its independence. 

    Western Fair in London, Ontario announced last week they signed a 10-year contract with North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) to be the sole Midway provider. The Western Fair was first held in 1867, and the independent midway is at least four decades old.

    In 2104, the Western Fair midway featured 50 rides and 35 games, contracting with about six ride operators, including NAME.

    "We are very excited to bring our presentation to London and the Western Fair" said Tony Diaz, President of North American Midway Entertainment upon the signing of the new agreement. "We have been involved with the Western Fair for years, and we've built a relationship with them. In 2015 we are bringing many new rides that have never appeared at the Western Fair before."  
    Consolidation Concern
    According to Hugh Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer, Western Fair District, the decision to relinquish independence had less to do with the present, but the future. Current industry trends indicate that the carnival segment of the fair industry becoming populated by fewer and fewer players. "The independent midway has worked quite well and we have a great relationship with the carnival operators, but we saw growing consolidation in the industry," said Mitchell. "We are looking at stability and consistency in the future," 

    Consolidation is not unique to the amusement ride industry - many economists and business observers theorize that gravitating towards fewer players is the natural evolution of most industries - but from Mitchell's perspective, committing to one midway provider for an entire decade, protects the Western Fair from possible disruptions due to shrinking pool of carnival operators. "A long term contract give us economies of scale," said Mitchell. "We can work with the operator, give them the assuredness of our site for ten years, they have the security to reinvest in their equipment. Ultimately, that will maximize and optimize our midway and give a quality experience to our customers."

    He added, "it was a difficult decision, but it is a business decision. There are fewer and fewer operators able to reinvest in their equipment and buy million dollar rides." 

    In recent years, consolidation trends had already affected the Western Fair midway. Ten years ago, the fair was contracting with 12-14 operators, more than twice the number of contracts in 2014. "Canada is a smaller market and we looked at the number of our major fairs," said Mitchell. "Our concern is not 2014, but will we be able to have enough choice of rides in 2024?"

    While the issue of accelerating consolidation has been discussed internally by the Western Fair District organizers for a few years, one incident this year crystalized the potential dilemma of multiple ride operators. Three weeks before the fair, a provider had to cancel and the fair had to scramble to fill in the gap. "We have a 10 day event, and the smaller operators are finding it harder to come to some fairs," said Mitchell. "The smaller fairs are also finding it difficult to find ride operators to do their dates, and operators are being squeezed by costs. Labor costs, cost of transportation, safety issues, costs are going up. It is harder to continue without some guarantees."

    Smaller ride operators are finding it challenging to cope with theses costs. For the fair, especially with labor costs, some savings from going to a solo-operator midway are expected. "There will be a reallocation of labor," he said. "We will no longer need a Western Fair Midway manager to coordinate the midway. Savings was an element of the decision, but they are small savings and the primary decision was looking ahead, how can we can make sure the midway operations is provides consistency and quality, and adding new rides to the mix." 

    Improved Service
    In addition, going with one ride vendor potentially provides an enhanced customer experience. "With one supplier, it is a single look, everything is colored coordinated, and there's consistency from one ride to the next," he said. 

    Diaz speculated that while there may have been some advantages to an independent midway,  "what finally enticed them to one operator midway was the customer service, the safety department, the guest services, and the uniformity of all the staff you can get with the company," said Diaz. "They did their due diligence, and they were happy with they saw."

    Now that the deal is completed, Diaz said both parties are "taking a look at a fresh layout and we are working other on a master plan of future development and a newer look." 

    The Western Fair also fits into NAME's existing Canadian touring schedule, which includes: The Calgary Stampede; Edmonton K-Days; Saskatoon Prairieland Exhibition and the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. North American Midway owns 200+ amusement rides and operates five Midway units, covering five Canadian Provinces and 20 U.S. states, providing Rides, Games and Food to approximately 15 Million fairgoers every year. 

    New Rides
    "We are committed to the Western Fair and are comfortable with the length of the contract," said Diaz. "We have been producing family friendly events in Canada for the past decade and our clients are very happy."

    Diaz said that new for 2015 Western Fair will be the a Blitzer Roller Coaster; Niagara Falls Water Flume Ride;  a 110-Foot Giant Ferris Wheel;  Mega Drop Tower and Mach 3 ride. "We are looking to bring new and exciting rides to the fair," said Diaz. 

    He expects the midway size and number of rides will be the same. NAME's arsenal of midway rides can fill the amount of rides necessary for this large fair, but Diaz doesn't rule out partnerships with some of the operators who have previously been at the fair. "That's yet to be determined," said Diaz. "We have a high percentage of  what they need,  it is not something that we expect to subcontract out, but we it is too early to tell what the final midway will be." 

    The Western Fair attracted 194,000 in 2013, an increase in previous years. This year, attendance declined about 11 percent, blamed on severe weather patterns including a storm that forced  an early closure. The 2015 Western Fair will be held Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 20. 
  • Winning Copyright Lawsuit, KMG Going After Freak Out Knockoffs
    A ruling by a Holland court may mean new legal actions against some midway providers. 

    The Freak Out is a popular swing ride made by KMG, a manufacturer of fair rides headquartered in the Netherlands. The Freak Out, a smaller version of the company's Afterburner, swings back and forth up to a 120 degree angle and accommodates 16 riders. The ride is self-contained on one truck, requires only two people and four hours for set up. One of the most popular KMG rides, there are 50 Freak Outs operational worldwide, of which 19 are in the U.S. 

    The Freak Out is so popular, it's being knocked off.  Peter Theunisz, Sales Manager, KMG, says there are 20-25 copies of the Freak Out in circulation throughout the world, being manufactured by factories in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Asia.  

    According to Theunisz, on Thursday October 2nd the Dutch Court decided to conclude that the 'Freak Out' is protected by copyright law and that the Czech copy (named Hang Over) is infringing on that copyright. KMG holds a patent on the Freak Out in several countries, including the U.S. Manufacturers of the copies were attempting to bypass the patent by "reverse engineering" the ride, but now they are reproducing the identical presentation - a compellingly trippy combination of lights and day-glow colors. The Dutch ruling validates that the look of the Freak Out is intellectual property, and that the presentation is integral to the value and uniqueness of the ride.

    Six months ago, KMG began legal action in the Netherlands when a midway provider brought a Freak Out knockoff, manufactured by the company in the Czech Republic, into the country. The judged ruled that "style effects, model, used techniques, colors and decorations are copied 1-on-1," said Theunisz. "According to the judge the manufacturer and owner [of the  ride]  have not investigated possible solutions to building a similar ride, nor have they attempted to make this ride look distinctively different than the KMG 'Freak Out'."

    In addition, the verdict stated that the defendant pay all trial expenses, and any future operation of the Freak Out copy in the Netherlands will result in a 20,000 Euro fine "every day the ride is open to the public," he said. 

    The favorable ruling means KMG will pursue manufacturers and purchasers of copy cat Freak Outs throughout Europe and elsewhere. Theunisz insists KMG is not after remuneration so much as the need to preserve his company's hard-earned integrity. "We are protecting the machines we invent and design and create. What we develop meets all KMG standards, which are the highest in the industry. What copycat manufactures are doing is trying to take advantage of the good image of the Freak Out, where riders get the same feeling that is similar to the KMG ride, but not up to our high standards." 

    From watches to DVDs, knockoff manufacturing takes place in many industries. When it comes to outdoor rides, reverse engineering a ride to create a bootleg version can sometimes mean bypassing safety features inherent in the original design.  The differences between a fake and authentic product may sometimes only be minor in details, when safety precautions are overlooked in manufacturing large machines like outdoor amusement rides, lives are at risk, as well as the public confidence in the safety of all midway rides.

    Theunisz relates a story about a fatal incident caused by a Freak Out knockoff on a fair in Spain. "A seat snapped off, from bad welding and inferior quality materials and three people were instantly killed, and a fourth died after five weeks," he said.  "For an entire day, all KMG Freak Outs over the world did not run and were inspected.  But it wasn't a KMG ride that caused the accident."

    According  to Theunisz, the Freak Out copy involved with the Spain accident was also made by an Eastern Europe copycat the Dutch court ruled against.
    For more than 18 months - prior to even the beginning of the Netherlands proceedings - KMG has been attempting to have the companies that have purchased the copies "cease and desist" using the rides, or to sign a licensing agreement, which according to Theunisz, "would require a safety inspection of the unit to ensure it is up to our standard of safety, but ...they don't even want to do that." 

    KMG has hired the law firm, The Sheehan Firm PC, based in Carry, Ill., to pursue purchasers of Freak Out copies in the U.S.  While there has been no U.S. court action yet by KMG against U.S. owners, Tom Sheehan, president of the law firm, said the amusement companies in the  US operating the knockoffs have  "been long aware of KMG's concerns."

    Legal action against these companies now seems imminent. According to Sheehan, he and his client, "are weighing the options " regarding what state to file a lawsuit in as well as whether state or federal action will be more effective.  Sheehan emphasized that KMG is adamant about ceasing the purchase of illegally reproduce copies of their amusement rides in the U.S., a stance only strengthened by the recent Dutch court ruling.
    "KMG is going  to aggressively defend their intellectual property rights, anywhere in the world, in the Netherlands or here in the United States," said Sheehan. He added that the Dutch court ruling "proves that the intellectual property claim by a ride manufacture is very defensible."

    While courts in other European member nations are bound to honor the Dutch Court ruling, U.S. courts are under no such obligation.  "How persuasive that specific ruling will be is up to the judge," admitted Sheehan.

    However, Sheehan points out that he brought similar cases against other ride manufacturers. "I've prevailed over a number of Chinese Manufactures in Florida who were attempting to sell copyright infringement devices at the International Amusement Park Association (IAAPA) trade show in Florida." 

    He added, "people have to be cautious regarding purchasing rides that may be violating property infringement laws. Manufactures are compelled to protect their work. Just because something looks identical, doesn't mean that the safety mechanisms are identical. That is absolutely the concern and it's bad for the entire industry. It not only hurts the image of the manufacturer, but can be damaging to anyone else who owns a genuine article. The potential ramifications are enormous." 

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HEADLINES from the web
Houghton Enterprises
Middletown, DE
10/10/2014 - 11/1/2014
Amusements of America
Coastal Carolina Fair
Ladson, SC
10/30/2014 - 11/9/2014
Wade Shows
Swamp Fest
Land O Lakes, FL
10/31/2014 - 11/2/2014
Wade Shows
St. Jude Fall Fest
St. Petersburg, FL
11/6/2014 - 11/9/2014
Volusia County Fair
Deland, FL
11/6/2014 - 11/16/2014
Miller Spectacular
Colfax, LA
Colfax, LA
11/7/2014 - 11/9/2014

IAAPA Attractions Expo - Orlando, FL
[more info..]

Annual IAFE Convention and Trade Show - Paris Hotel - Las Vegas, NV
[more info..]

I.I.S.F. Gibtown Extravaganza - Gibsonton, FL
[more info..]

2013 TOP 50 FAIRS
1. Texas State Fair - Dallas, TX
2. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
3. Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
4. San Antonio Livestock Show & Ex. - San Antonio, TX
5. Eastern State Exhibition

View Top 50 Fairs

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The Industry Buzz
Rides 4-U to have largest IAAPA booth to date
Len Soled's Rides 4-U, representing KMG, SBF/Visa and S&S, will have their largest booth to date at this years IAAPA Expo in Orlando.  Soled was proud to announce that they will debut the first trailer mounted version of the popular Compact Spinning Coaster and also a trailer mounted version of their pneumatic drop tower, the Drop N Twist, both built by SBF/Visa.  "Both pieces have had tremendous success with Amusement parks" said Soled.  Rides 4-U will also have a new ride on display from SBF/Visa called the Skate 360, which can best be described as a miniature Kamikaze ride.  Outside, the company will have a Frog Hopper from S&S which has been purchased by Campy's Amusements.  The IAAPA Expo runs November 18-21, 2014 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.  Posted by Matt Cook on 10/31/2014
CNE General Manager David Bednar Announces His Retirement

CNE General Manager David Bednar announced today that he will be retiring after 16 years as CNE General Manager on the spring of 2015.  "I have enjoyed every minute of my time here. My love for the CNE will continue now as a fan of the fair rather than as General Manager," stated Bednar.

David Bednar has more than 35 years of management experience in the arts and entertainment industry, including 16 years as General Manager of the Canadian National Exhibition. Before joining the CNE in 1998, Mr. Bednar worked with Live Entertainment Corporation (Livent) where he was involved in the development and operation of theatre projects such as “Phantom of the Opera” and “Ragtime” in Toronto and New York. Prior to Livent, he had a ten-year tenure with the prestigious Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake as Director of Operations.

The Canadian National Exhibition is Canada’s largest fair and one of the top 10 exhibitions in North America. Founded in 1879, the CNE generates an economic impact of approximately $58.6 million for the Greater Toronto Area and $80 million for the province of Ontario each year. Over the past decade, the CNE has earned a reputation as the “greenest” fair in North America. Last year alone, it diverted 86.36% (1.856 million kg) of its total waste from landfill.
  Posted by Karen Lynch on 10/23/2014
Indiana's Elkhart County 4H Fair names Bryan Blair as new general manager

The Elkhart County 4H Fair in Goshen, Indiana named long time MCW visitor Bryan Blair as their new General Manager on October 10.  Blair's job as general manager will be to provide leadership and vision for growing the fair, as well as overseeing the fair's staff and grounds for the fair board.  Blair previously worked for the Kentucky State Fair board serving as expositions administrator and also helped re-organize the Taylor County Fair in Campbellsville, KY in 1997 and is an active fair board member.  For more information, click here.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 10/13/2014
Western Fair District And North American Midway Entertainment Sign 10-Year Contract
London, Ontario, October 6, 2014:  Hugh Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer, Western Fair District (WFD) is pleased to announce the recent signing of a 10-year contract with North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) as their signature event's sole Midway provider.  This new partnership will add a fresh dimension to the District's fall classic.  

NAME will continue to honor Western Fair's tradition, since 1867, of providing the community with a superior entertainment product, great energy, fun, and community celebration and has committed to present at the 2015 Western Fair:  a Blitzer Roller Coaster;  Niagara Falls Water Flume Ride;  a 110-Foot Giant Ferris Wheel;  Mega Drop Tower and Mach 3 ride, which is a 37 meter arm that with two seats mounted at each end, produces a 3.5g on riders, to name a few of the new rides.   Diaz also noted that due to the size of the ride inventory, new and exciting rides will be provided year-after-year to keep the midway presentation fresh and exciting.

The 2015 Western Fair will be held Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 20.   

  Posted by Amy Girton / NAME on 10/6/2014
2015 Carnival Photo Calendar Contest
Want to win a free 2015 MCW Carnival Photo Calendar?  We are seeking your best fair, midway, or carnival photos to be included in our 2015 Carnival Calendar Photo Contest!  For more information visit:

  Posted by Matt Cook on 10/6/2014
In our efforts to chronicle the history of our industry, we could think of no better way to further this endeavor than to interview industry pioneers and preserve their videos for posterity.

Victor Products -Concession Supplies & Equipment Sales

TYAUT Designs - Lap Bar Refurbishment & Grip Bars is now open for business!  Visit to purchase Wisdom Ride Parts and LED lighting!

Deggeller Attractions is now hiring ride, game, food, cdl drivers, and more.  Visit to apply.

American Changer’s NEW Ticket Center Kiosk is designed to sell tickets to your customers.  It features a touch screen display and accepts cash, coins, and credit cards.  It dispenses tickets and provides change back to your customer in “bills & coins”.  You can offer a “POP” package with a receipt taken to guest services to be redeemed for a wristband.  The kiosk features cellular communications and offers real-time data monitoring connected to our network server.  Visit or call 800-741-9840.

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