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  • Overview of the games seminars from 2013 IAAPA Attractions Expo
    7/23/2014

    Each year, millions of guests play the midway games at parks and attractions worldwide.  Whether it is at an amusement or theme park, on a boardwalk, at a family entertainment center, at a fair or carnival, or at an amusement park or midway area in a casino or hotel, games are an integral part of the total entertainment experience at these facilities and venues.

    From "Winner Every Time" games to games where players have the opportunity to trade up for larger prizes, to redemption and arcade games, attractions offer games of all skill levels for all ages to enjoy.

    Games are part entertainment and part merchandising. Players play for the fun of trying to win a prize- but they also like to win. A testament to this is the countless tons of plush and other merchandise utilized in games operations each year.

    MORE THAN FUN AND GAMES

    Games are big business. However, there is more to the game business than the fun and games. Like any large scale merchandise operation, behind the scenes, the directors and managers who oversee games have a multitude of responsibilities and challenges to deal with within the scope of their day-to-day operations.

    Hiring and staffing,  plush and merchandise selection and purchasing, inventory management and cash controls, to name just a few.

    Another important factor that must be taken into consideration in any successful games operation is Cost of Goods (aka Cost of Sales) or "stock averages".  Also, games managers must keep up with the latest merchandise trends and the latest game concepts to ensure games are kept fresh, inviting and stocked with the latest plush and merchandise to attract players.

    Within the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) - the trade association for the global attractions industry, are sub-committees that help guide the association and assist its members in specific areas of operation.  For example, there is a  committee for Food and Beverage, a committee for Entertainment,  among others   - and games are no exception.

    Formerly known as the IAAPA Games Committee, this year the committee has been re-formalized as the IAAPA Games and Merchandising Committee.  The committee is made up of a group of passionate industry professionals with years of experience in games and merchandising management, who volunteer their time to serve on the committee.

    Greg Morrow has been committee chairman since 2012. This year, the IAAPA Games and Merchandising Committee is co-chaired by Greg Morrow and Andrea Gibbs. Greg Morrow has many years of experience in amusement park operations and management, having formerly been Games Manager at Canobie Lake Park, Salem, NH and currently Games and Merchandise Manager at Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park, Chattanooga, TN.  Andrea Gibbs has years of experience in merchandising and management in the attractions industry, formerly General Manager of Dolphin Quest, Hawaii and currently General Manager of Madame Tussaud's and San Francisco Dungeons, San Francisco , CA.

    Greg Morrow explained, "The Games and Merchandising Committee operates as a sub-set of IAAPA's Education Committee and is responsible for educational content with regards to retail merchandising and games". He further elaborated that this includes organizing "six to eight educational sessions and facility tours during the annual IAAPA Attractions Expo, two to three webinars throughout the year and the annual "Tools of the Trade" tour for games".

    Stating, "We're all in it together", Morrow views his industry colleagues as a community of like-minded professionals working toward common goals. Greg is a firm believer that members can benefit from networking and from the sharing of information and ideas.

    At its core, the Games and Merchandising committee's objective is the betterment of the industry, with the ultimate goal being that of providing a better and more enjoyable experience for guests.

    During the annual IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Florida this past November, the IAAPA Games Committee presented four educational sessions and a round table discussion on games operations and management.

    Even before the trade show officially opened on Tuesday, many game professionals arrived at the North/South Building of the Orange County Convention Center a day early, on Monday, to participate in a day of scheduled seminars.

    The following is a synopsis of the highlights of the educational sessions.

    The first session of the morning was entitled, Midway Games Merchandising: Drive More Players to your Games.

    The presenter of this information-packed session was Greg Morrow, Games and Merchandise Manager, Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park, Chattanooga, TN and IAAPA Games Committee Chairman.

    Morrow stressed the importance of using strong visual appeal in creating prize displays to attract players to games. "Humans are predominately visual creatures". "People window shop. They're going to notice the flash before the game", said Morrow. He urged game professionals to THINK BIG AND BOLD when designing games displays. He presented a Power Point presentation with photos of effective game displays and shared the following tips and ideas for attracting more players to games.

    Keep Colors Together (lightest to darkest) Make large blocks of color (or lines of color) with larger prizes on top Keep all like sizes together Keep items tight together as much as possible- No negative space Use patterns and formations Use your best wall to display your best prizes ("Money Wall". This would be the wall that has the highest visibility from a guest's point of view) Keep games stocked and flashed Keep your displays full Keep games stocked so that employees do not remove prizes from completed displays

    COMBATTING ATTENTION SPANS

    As cell phone use continues to rise and people are seemingly constantly preoccupied with checking their cell phones or texting- combined with the other distractions in an amusement park or midway setting- game operators need to fight for attention. Morrow suggested that since people are using their cell phones so frequently and since they are accustomed to scanning "QR Codes" with their phones, to give them an interactive way to use their cell phone to draw attention to your games by using QR Codes (Quick Response Codes).

    PUT QR CODE ON GAME SIGNS

    As an example, a QR Code on a sign can be scanned with a cell phone to display information such as the rules of the game and/or the cost to play. Another possibility is that the code could be scanned to reveal a special offer or perhaps a message such as, "Congratulations. You just won one free play", to attract players to a game.

    UPGRADE YOUR SIGNAGE

    A way to give a game a new or updated look is by upgrading game signage to digital signage. This is something that Greg Morrow is implementing at his games operation at Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park this season.

    With the price of high definition flat-screen TVs dropping, digital signage has become less expensive than it has been in the past. Morrow cited that at the time he was shopping, a 32" screen TV could be purchased for $251.96 at Tiger Direct. Also, there are relatively inexpensive digital video players available to play the digital messages. Morrow located one at a supplier called Fright Props for $139.99. Some digital players have the ability to plug three or four TV's into the same message.

    ENHANCE YOUR DISPLAYS

    Use specialty lights such as LED light tubes and Christmas lights Use any props that relate to the theme of the game

    Morrow said your employees can be an untapped source of talent when it comes to creating attractive game and merchandise displays and keeping games flashed. Some employees actually enjoy being involved in the process, while at the same time giving them another reason to take pride in the game they're working. To that end, he advised, "Teach your staff why you display the way you do. and give them some ownership".

    Following the presentation, the audience was encouraged to participate in a hands-on segment where they were able to put to practice what they had learned in the seminar by creating displays of actual game prizes. Provided with grid wall sections, drapery hooks, LED light tubes and cases of plush (provided by industry vendors), participants worked in two teams to complete the task.

    Ask the Experts: Midway Games Operations

    For this session, IAAPA's Games Committee assembled a panel of games professionals with many years of combined experience in the games business.

    The panel consisted of: Janice Kingsley, Director of Games Operations, Hershey Entertainment Leanna Muscato, Games Manager, Knoebels' Amusement Resort Simon Benichou, Director of Food Beverage and Games, Morey's Piers Larry Steele, Director of Operations, Bob's Space Racers, Inc. The session was moderated by Greg Morrow, Games and Merchandise Manager, Lake Winnpesaukah Amusement Park, Chattanooga, TN and IAAPA Games Committee Chairman.

    During this interactive session, the audience was able to submit questions to the panel using their smart phones, laptops and tablets, by following a link or scanning a QR Code.

    In what was a provocative and informative session, the panel shared their vast knowledge and insight on various aspects of the games business.

    It was mentioned that for safety reasons, some parks have converted their balloon dart games to balloon bust, winner every time games, which use bean bags instead of darts.
     
    Leanna Muscato commented that the balloon inflating system of such games eliminates "sore fingers" from tying balloons and using bean bags instead of darts eliminates the occasional "gouges" to legs from wayward darts. Greg Morrow added that he has been using suction cup darts instead of bean bags. It was noted that some parks utilize both dart and bean bag balloon games.

    During a discussion on stock and cost of goods, Simon Benichou revealed that his operation at Morey's Piers did "phenomenal numbers" with Minions.

    The consensus of the panel was that Despicable Me Minions were the hot licensed game prize this past season.

    Simon Benichou said that when it comes to ordering stock, some manufacturers and suppliers of plush are requiring their customers to commit earlier than in the past, as they are now basing their production and inventory on commitment rather than projection. Benichou said in the case of a popular item such as the Minions, it pays to plan ahead, because "The item is what's driving the game".

    A question submitted from the audience. "If you were opening a midway operation, what are the top midway games you would place on your MUST list?"

    Larry Steele of Bob's Space Racers answered, saying, "Water Race Game, Ring Toss, you can never go wrong with a basketball game".

    Another question from the audience. "On a 3 prize level game, is it best to have several things at each prize level for the guest to choose from or a set item for each level?"

    "Small- one or two, Medium- one or two. Don't give too many choices. It will slow you down". Simon Benichou said, in a race game, for example, "If you're offering a hot item such as a Minion, Don't offer a smaller Minion". Many times if the player wins the smaller prize it will be, "Win one and done" and they are not likely to continue playing to trade up to the larger item. He advised, "Make your lower end prize nice, but not the same quality as your choice item".

    Someone in the audience asked, "What do you guys like for next year?"

    Janice Kingsley believes, "Minions will again do phenomenal".

    At the time, it was predicted that Duck Dynasty merchandise from the A&E television series could end up being a hot licensed prize item in 2014, as it fits all demographics , from kids to adults. However, early reports indicate that possibly due to heavy retail saturation , Duck Dynasty items weren't doing as strong as anticipated, leaving  some game managers watching and waiting to see how well the items do as the season progresses.

    When it comes to game prize merchandise, "Don't always be stuck on plush - diversify" said Simon Benichou.   For hard goods, electronics are good items. However, he has noticed in the area of electronics, "a little drop off "with Iphones and Ipads. "The market is so saturated, everybody has an Ipad and Iphone", he said.

    Listen to your suppliers. A merchandise supplier that Simon Benichou uses had asked him if Morey's Piers was using Minecraft merchandise in any games (they weren't), so they ordered some Minecraft merchandise and it turned out to be a fairly good item.

    Benichou said you may not think that an item is necessarily a high-end item, but sometimes, it's the perceived value of the item that makes it desirable. If it's a popular item and it's in demand, it could be a good game prize.

    Loom Bands were such an item that were successful on some games last season.

    "Keep your pulse on what kids like, what's hot out there", Benichou recommended. However he cautioned, "Shut off your own interpretation. It's not what you like, It's what the people like". Otherwise, you may not only end up being stuck with the item(s), but also end up with an under-performing game.

    A discussion was started regarding whether anyone was still operating quarter pitch games.

    Benichou stated "In this age, with the economy, quarter stands are very popular", adding that families especially appreciate the quarter games, because on a budget, the whole family can play and have fun. He told the audience that at his operation, at Morey's Piers, they have a quarter plate pitch that is popular with guests that at peak periods does a large volume of business. At this game, $5.00 rolls of quarters are kept on hand to sell to players. "Don't be deceived by the quarter. The quarter means nothing", he said, adding that at a four-sided game, during busy periods, "there could be eighteen dollars (in quarters) being thrown at a time".  And while there will be a higher percentage of stock given out during busy periods, with the salesmanship of a good operator holding up the prize each time someone wins and calling out, "There goes another one", this creates excitement and encourages more play. Greg Morrow agreed, saying, "Cost of the game is irrelevant. At the end of the day, it's cost of sales".

    A question from the audience: "What is the best way to train a midway operator? Do you give them incentive if they make X amount of money they get a reward of a sort?"

    Simon Benichou answered, "Strongest way is by literally, engage and involve the employee. If you treat them like just bodies they feel like they're just bodies. Get them involved". He continued, "If an employee is taking initiative they usually appreciate advice such as, "You're doing good. Wouldn't it be better if you did this, or."

    Midway Games Showcase: The Best of 2013

    Presenters and speakers were: Janice Kingsley, Director of Games Operations, Hershey Entertainment and Jim Johnson, Games Manager, Hershey Entertainment.

    At this session, participants were shown a Power Point presentation which included photos of examples of game prize displays and game developments from 2013.

    A highlight of the Midway Games Showcase was the revealing of the results of the 2013 IAAPA Midway Games Operations Survey. The annual survey is an invaluable resource for game managers, giving them an opportunity to compare notes and get a glimpse of what other facilities are doing and what works and what doesn't . The survey also includes the listing of the top licensed and non licensed games plush items from 2013 (according to the respondents of the survey).

    A slide titled "Minion Mania!!!" showed several game stands flashed with last season's hottest licensed plush item. Despicable Me Minions. Other slides showed examples of effectively flashed games featuring other merchandise including last season's top non-licensed plush item. Donuts from Peek-a Boo-Toys.

    While viewing the displays of prize merchandise, it was pointed out that "NEON" plush is making a comeback, and it makes for very colorful, effective displays, especially when displayed against a black background.

    A trend with Ring toss games is for the player to pay a certain price for a certain number of rings or a bucket of rings and get a free small prize such as a hat or a small piece of plush.
     
    A photo was shown of a Ring Toss game that utilized a plush flower with a long stem which rings were stacked on. The player is allowed to keep the flower.

    An interesting Ring Toss at Pacific Park was shown which uses clear bottles with colored LED lights underneath the bottles, with the bottles reflecting the colored lights.

    While on the subject of Ring Toss games, it was mentioned to be sure to check rings often for cracks.

    Several parks have added giant "Plinko" games, similar to the game on the television game show Price is Right. Some are elaborate permanent set-ups while some parks have portable versions that can be moved around the park to different locations, such as at the entrance to popular rides.  As a possible prize, some parks offer players a chance to win front of the line passes for rides.

    At one park, the way the game is played is it costs $3.00 to play. The player gets 2 Plinko discs. The score of both discs is added to determine the prize level. winner every time.

    At Hershey Park, the player pays $5.00 for up to 3 discs. If the player likes the first two, they can stop at that, or drop a third and final disc, with no options.

    A "Pong" game was shown at King's Island Amusement Park which featured locally popular sports team and college team plush and merchandise such as Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Ohio State. The game was 3 balls for $1.00, with 2 out of 3 balls in winning a small prize and 3 out of 3 balls in winning choice.

    Several uniquely themed games were shown from the games area at Universal Orlando Jurassic Park at Island Of Adventure.

    The final photo slide of the presentation was titled, "The Joys of Our Efforts!"  It showed several photographs of smiling winners proudly posing with their prizes . a little girl hugging a Minion, a little boy hugging a Smurf, a girl hugging a big round pig from Peek-a-Boo Toys, two girls sitting on a bench proudly showing off a group of plush they had won, and finally a child and mother with a huge spaghetti-like pile of redemption ticket strips as they are feeding them into a "Ticket Eater" machine. What a more fitting and touching way to close out the presentation than with a reminder of what the games business is all about- happy, satisfied customers- The pay-off of all the hard work put forth by games managers and employees.

    The session included a vendor showcase in which several plush suppliers provided samples of their popular plush items for attendees to look over. Attendees were welcome to take the samples with them at end of the session. Classic, Fiesta, Goffa, Kelly Toy, Peek-a-Boo, Rhode Island Novelty and Toy Factory were thanked for their participation.

    Monday's games educational sessions concluded with an evening roundtable discussion on games and merchandising.

    On Tuesday afternoon another games educational session was held entitled, Advanced Midway Games Employee Training.

    This session was held on the trade show floor at the booths of Redbone Products and Bob's Space Racers.

    Participants gathered in a meeting room and were escorted by members of the IAAPA Games committee to the trade show floor. Speakers were Simon Benichou, Director of Food, beverage and Games, Morey's piers; Mike Weimar, Games Operations Manager, Morey's Piers and Dave Sandstrom, Vice President, International sales, Bob's Space Racers, Inc.

    Speakers Benichou and Weimar demonstrated techniques for training employees how to attract players to games and how to interact with players in skill and group games during both slow and busy periods, as well as how to encourage re-play.

    The first stop on the trade show floor was at the booth of Redbone Products, where attendees were shown techniques on how to work with individual players at skill games.

    The group then proceeded to the booth of Bob's Space Racers, Inc., where a "Whopper Water" water race trailer game that was on display was used to demonstrate how to work with players of group games. Actual races were conducted, with seminar attendees and trade show attendees sitting in as players.

    Tools of the Trade Tour for Midway Games

    The IAAPA Games and Merchandising Committee is hosting a two-day "Tools of The Trade" study tour, which will be visiting piers and parks along the New Jersey Shore.

    This year's event is the third of what has become an annual event. Previously, in 2012, a tour was conducted of parks in Pennsylvania which included stops at Knoebels' Amusement Resort, Hershey Park, Dorney Park and Skee Ball, Inc. In 2013, the tour visited parks in Southern California, with stops at Knott's Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studio, Hollywood and Disney's California Adventure.

    The tour is an educational and networking event that allows game directors, managers and supervisors to get a close-up look at other game operations under actual operating conditions. Participants learn from experienced games managers and get ideas in game layout, merchandise displays, pricing, and get and learn techniques and tips on employee training and learn about emerging trends for the season.

    The dates of this year's "Tools of the Trade" for Midway games Tour are, Tuesday, June 24 and Wednesday, June 25. The tour will include stops at Casino Pier and the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, Jenkinson's Point Pleasant Beach Boardwalk, Keansburg Amusement Park, Morey's Piers and the Wildwood Boardwalk and Steel Pier and the World Famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.

    -END-

    Highlights of the 2013 IAAPA Midway Games Operations Survey.

    (There were 45 respondents to the survey)

    Please check the category that best describes your facility:

    Theme Park/ Amusement Park - 86.7 % (39)
    Family Entertainment Center Indoor - 4.4 % (2)
    Family entertainment Center, Indoor and outdoor operations  -  2.2 % (1)
    Other -  6.7 % (3)

    Please check the attendance category that best describes your park:

    500,000 and under - 26.7 % (12)
    500,001 to 1,000,000 - 22.2 % (10)
    1,000,001 to 2,000,000 - 26.7 % (12)
    2,000,001 to 3,000,000 - 8.9 % (4)
    3,000,001 and up - 15.6 % (7)

    Please check the games and arcade per capita range that best describes your facility:

    We do not use per caps - 27.3 % (12)
    $2.00 and under - 34.1 % (15)
    $2.01 to $3.00 - 22.7 % (10)
    $3.01 to $4.00 - 11.4 % (5)
    $4.01 and up - 4.5 % (2)

    What was the change in your per capita spending in 2013?

    We do not use per caps- 31.1 % (14)
    Decreased by more than- 10 % 2.2 % (1)
    Decreased by less than 10 %- 13.3 % (6)

    To what do you attribute to your per capita spending change in 2013?

    Increase:                                               Decrease:
    - Strong Plush (License and non)                        - Rainy Weather                 
    - New Games                                             - Higher Season Pass attendance
    - Perfect weather (cooler)                                               
    - Increase focus on salesmanship                        - Economy
    - Changed games (lower per cap games removed)           - New Waterpark
    - New ride near games area                              - Gate Price and Food Price Increases
    - Lower price points ($1 games or Winner every time)    - Change in hiring process (reduced staffing levels)
    - Trade Up availability                                 - Lower Park Attendance
    - Increase in sales of Game Cash/Value Books
    - Good Marketing
    - Cashless Midway


    What range of Cost of Sales percentage do you run?

    25 % and under -  28.6 % (12)
    26 % to 29 % - 59.5 % (25)
    30 % and up - 11.9 % (5)

    What best describes your 2013 Cost of Sales Plan?

    Lowered Cost of sales % - 19.0 % (8)
    Maintained Cost of sales % - 73.8 % (31)
    Increased Cost of Sales % - 7.1 % (3)

    For this season, did you:

    Reduce the number of games from last season - 32.5 % (13)
    Kept the number of games the same - 50.0 % (20)
    Increased the number of games from last season - 17.5 % (7)

    How many skill games do you operate?

    Center Joints - 24 %
    Line Ups - 57 %
    Race Games - 19 %
    Crane/ Instant Win - 19 %
    Arcade Games - 37 %
    Redemption - 44 %

    What were your top five grossing skill games in 2013?

    2013                                                                   2012

    - Water Race Game - 60 %                                               - Basketball (Long/Short Range & 3 Point Challenge) - 56 %
    - Basketball (Long/Short Range) - 47 %                                  
    - Basketball (3 Point Challenge) - 42 %                                - Water Race Games - 50 %
    - Ring Toss - 36 %                                                     - Balloon Dart - 44 %
    - Balloon Bust - 22 %                                                  - Goblet Toss - 39 %
    - Goblet Toss - 18 %                                                   - Ring Toss - 39 %
    - Fried Frogs - 13 %                                                   - Derby - 28 %
    - Wac A mole - 11                                                      - Wac A Mole - 17 %
    - Basketball (Free throw Challenge) - 11 %                             - Blockbuster - 11 %
    - Bank A Ball - 8 %                                                    - Frog Launcher - 11 %
    - Milk Can - 8 %

    What new game(s) did you add for the 2013 operating season?

    - Plinko - 10
    - Prize Wheel - 4
    - Basketball (short or long range) - 4
    - 3 Point Challenge - 3
    - Football Toss - 3
    - Balloon Bust - 3
    - Break a Plate - 2
    - Fishing Hole - 2

    What game(s) did you remove for the 2013 operating season and why was game(s) removed?

    - Block Buster (4) - "Already had several others" & "lazer maze in 2013"
    - Scatterball (3) - "lack of interest" & "corporate directive to cut down on games"
    - Quarter Toss (2) - "low grossing due to location"
    - Short Range basketball (2) - "Under performing" & "duplication"
    - Gunball (2) - duplication in park
    - Mini Striker (2) - "low sales" & "not popular - replaced with prize wheel & plinko"
    - Skeeball (2) - "under performing" & "location trending downward for years"
    - Darts - "removed darts out of balloon games (added bean bags)"
    - Soccer - "food location in 2013"
    - Killer Beez race Game - "Maintenance issues"
    - Wacky Wire - "food location in 2013"
    - Plinko - "low revenue - converted space to retail location"
    - Ring Toss - "low per cap and corporate directive to cut down on games"
    - Duck Pond - "Food location in 2013"
    - Hi Striker - "Low sales, Maintenance issues"
    - Rail Runner - "lowest per cap game"

    What change(s) did you make to your operation for 2013 that you would suggest to others?

    - Change game locations to keep a fresh look
    - Hourly rotation of staff
    - Added more electronics as merchandise
    - Paid close attention to merchandising
    - Major review of vendor prices and search for new products at lower costs
    - % of stock given out at least 25%
    - Use popular plush for large prize not choice - play up one more time
    - More flash on displays
    - VIP Games Pass - 8 game pack & cap for $29.95
    - Created a Games Voucher Booklet - Buy a book get one free game
    - Prize selection - offer a mix of gender and age suitable prizes
    - On high attendance days we gave a pair of Jordan's Shoes for the highest score of the day  at 3 point Challenge
    - Supervisors do breaks to work with the team and show them different barking techniques
    - More formal microphone training, staying on top of staff training, hanging up encouraging  quotes in games to keep staff motivated
    - Incentive plans for employees to upsale
    - Match labor to business - cut back staffing during slower times
    - Increased the number of winner every time games
    - Increased pricing structure along with the prize - tripled the per cap
    - Change in prices - offer more $1 games

    What was your top 3 licensed games plush items for this (2013) season

    - Despicable Me Minions/unicorn - Toy Factory (89%)
    - Hello Kitty - Fiesta (40%)
    - Pokemon - Toy Factory (37%)
    - Smurfs - Kelly toy (23%)
    - Scooby - Toy Factory (9%)
    - Angry Bird - Good stuff (6%)
    - Spongebob - RINCO (6%)
    - Simpsons - Toy Factory (3%)
    - Skelanimal - Fiesta (3%)
    - 1 Direction - Goffa (3%)

    What was your top 3 licensed games plush items for this (2013) season

         2013                        2012                            2011

    1. Minions                     1. Minions                     1. Smurfs
    2. Hello Kitty                 2. Smurfs                      2. Angry Birds
    3. Pokemon                     3. Angry Birds                 3. Minions
    4. Smurfs                      4. Hello Kitty                 4. Hello Kitty
    5. Scooby                      5. Pokemon                     5. Pokemon

    What was your top 3 non-licensed games plush items for this (2013) season

    - Donuts (Peek-a-Boo)
    - Gerald Giraffe (Classic)
    - Neon Lemur (Ideal)
    - Chester Gorilla (Toy Factory)
    - Round Body Plush (Kelly Toy)
    - Griffon Dragon (Classic)
    - Neon Squid (Goffa)
    - Changa Monkey (Toy Factory)
    - Super Nana (Peek-a-Boo)
    - Giraffe & Elephant (Goffa)
    - Cyclops (Goffa)
    - Penguin Ninja (Classic)
    - Round Animals (Peek-a-Boo)
    - Rainbow Gorilla (Toy Factory)
    - Noggins (Classic)
    - Pillow Pets (Kelly Toy)
    - Lemur tails (Ideal)
    - Squid Hats (Goffa)
    - Zoobies (Peek-a-Boo)
    - Rasta Banana (Ideal)
    - Brighton Bear (Fiesta)

    What was your biggest challenge for this (2013) operating season?

    - Weather (rain in May/June)
    - Employee Retention from year to year
    - Overcoming frugality of season pass holders
    - Maintaining per caps while reducing labor
    - On time delivery of stock - keeping Despicable Me product in stock
    - Increasing revenue with less games
    - Keeping labor till end of season
    - With loss of NANCO, getting licensed plush turned into a challenge
    - Fan base lost due to Hurricane Sandy
    - Getting staff to work weekends and Holidays
    - Large portion of our games business comes from group sales and these numbers
      Are still down due to economy
    - Parts for equipment and machines constantly on back-order

    What is your best method for hiring and keeping good employees? Hiring:

    - Have applicant "sell" something during their job interview
    - Applicants perform a microphone sales demonstration (Kings Dominion)
    - "When we find a team member who is solid and reliable, we look for references from them.
      Applicants must have a positive attitude and up-beat personality and they must remain calm under pressure"
    - Screen applicants for guest service skills, then have applicant mock advertise on the spot
    - Only hire the most outgoing & energetic applicants after interviewing in person

    Retention:
    - Park wide and Department recognition program.
    - Scholarship program, free employee busing and school credit program
    - Flexible scheduling
    - Employee of the month gift cards
    - Pay $25 per hour
    - Offer opportunities for advancement
    - Recognize good employees when they get positive feedback from our guests
    - Offer incentives to employees- movie tickets, employee parties, pizza tickets, free lunch
    - HAVE FUN

    What type of incentives do you offer your employees?

    - Employee of the week
    - Employee of the month
    - Movie tickets, Employee parties, gift certificates, meal vouchers
    - Recognition pins and certificates
    - Scratch off cards for prizes
    - Cash bonus awarded at end of season to select employees
    - Quarterly bonus
    - Various contests throughout the year tied to holidays
    - "CSI (Customer Service Incentive) Chips" used for excellent customer service to be redeemed for gift certificates

    Of the respondents, 72.7% (8) indicated they awarded bonuses each pay period, 18.2% (2) awarded bonuses each week, and 9.1% (1) awarded bonuses each day.

    Has your arcade revenue increased, decreased, or remain flat from 2012 to 2013?

    Increased - 36.4 % (12)
    Remain Flat - 30.3 % (10)
    Decreased - 21.2 % (7)
    We do not have an arcade - 12.1 % (4)

    Special thanks to: Greg Morrow, Janice Kingsley and Jim "JJ" Johnson for their assistance with this article.


  • 2014 Fair Trends: Northeast Fairs Show Increase in Price Promotions and Social Media Marketing
    7/21/2014

    After two early, New York-state fairs of the season under his belt - the 9-day Hudson Valley Fair in Fishkill and the 12-day Brookhaven Fair in Farmingville - Brian Schuman president of Fair Productions, was guardedly optimistic.

    "I think people are spending a little more this year," Schuman said, but that doesn't mean value isn't critical in the current market. In fact, price promotions are more appealing than ever.

    Happy Medium
    What 2014 seems to be about for Schuman is finding a happy medium between the noticeable if modest increase in consumer confidence and determining the optimum price to charge consumers for attending a fair. Fairgoers seem more willing to spend, but "value is still important," said Schuman. "We instituted dollar nights on Fridays, which was new to the fair. People turn out for the lower prices. The discount promotions are the most effective."

    Fair Productions is an event management and production company. Unlike most state or county fairs, Schuman is  a private entrepreneur, handling all aspects of the fair, including contracting with the midway and other vendors as well as all marketing and promotions. While he is tightlipped in offering figures to explain how successful this year's fairs have been, the insights he did offer to Carnivalwarehouse illuminate new and growing trends within the industry.

    "I am not a public company," said Schuman. "Many fairs are public, organized a government agency or a nonprofit entity. Fairs entertain a lot of people, but I don't necessarily want to say everything that I am doing that has been successful because I'm a private company. Why should I give away my ideas to my competition?"

    Good Value
    Regarding the general attitude among fairgoers, he has noticed a qualified but upbeat attitude this year. "I think people are always looking for a deal," said Schuman. "Even with the economy getting better, people are still looking for a deal, maybe even more so. As a producer of fairs, they are our customers and you have to give them what they want. They want a deal, so price promotions are working the best right now. The fair is always a good value, it is family friendly, affordable entertainment."

    For Jimmy Strates, Director of Operations, James E. Strates Shows, this was the third year at both fairs, providing a mid-size midway - 32 rides at Brookhaven Fair  and 24 rides at the Hudson Valley Fair. "These are good events, although they were pushed up a little earlier this year, and we had a wet spring so that was a factor,"  he said.
    Because of the Easter Holiday, the Hudson Valley was extended over, and the added days coincided with warmer and more spring-like weather. "The extra weekend made a difference, there was more demand. But our costs were higher, adding that time. The grosses were higher, but our expenses were higher too. But we came out ahead."

    Incrementally Better
    Strates is cautious in how much how reads into the positive results of two early fairs. "There is nothing to indicate this year is any better than last year, and you cannot really predict an entire season from any one or two fairs. We are not setting any records, but things are better, they are incrementally better."

    Whether it's merely an observation about the current state of business or an indulgence in soothsaying, Strates insists that the determining factor for any fair or fair season is the weather. "Bad weather on a fair weekend even in a good economy will not be good for the fair," he said. "There are a lot of other factors, such as fuel prices or instability in Iraq that can affect how much people feel like spending on the fair. Overall, things are better than five or six years ago and maybe the same or a little better than last year."

    According to Strates, Fair Productions is a company that " understand the brand, they know how to build value and what special promotions to have," he said. "They build on their success. We've been providing their rides and our customers know what to expect. Together we deliver value-added entertainment."

    New Marketing
    The most undeniable trend affecting all fair promotions in 2014 has been shifting mix of media on which advertising dollars are spent as well as the ongoing explosive growth of social media.
     
    "TV doesn't do a lot anymore," Schuman said. "We still do a lot of radio. Social Media is obviously more important. We run contests on Facebook, promote the fact of the fair and the contests on Facebook we are running and draw people to our website."

    Print - both newspapers and direct mail - are used sporadically, but still serve a purpose. "Print reaches an older demographic, which you want at a fair," said Schuman. "We still use print, not as much, and it's very targeted."

    While Schuman declined to discuss the specifics of trends in this social media fair promotions, "I'm not sure it is any one specific thing, but the presence has to be constant, to get the buzz out there."

    Why Facebook contests accomplish their goals is that the format panders to one of the strengths - and appeals - of social media, especially Facebook -interactivity. "Contests gets the buzz out of there on Facebook," said Schuman. "In today's world, marketing is much faster. Now there's only nanoseconds between sending out a promotion and getting a response. It may be easier to create a buzz, but that buzz disappears faster. With social media, you can keep the conversations going, you are communicating with one person at a time, but it grows exponentially."

    Fair Foodie
    One trend that is new for 2014 that Schuman does reveal appears to the culinary influence from the Food Truck. Popular in more urbanized areas, the foodie lunch rage is a vendor truck that serves fresh, gourmet food - comparable to a fancy restaurant, Food Trucks serve up high-quality food, but only offer a very limited menu, making the business model practical as well as profitable.

    Going against the traditional cuisine custom at fairs of meat that is deep fried and/or on a stick, Schuman featured at his fairs a gourmet styled, limited menu vendor.  A student from the Culinary Institute of America approached him with the concept. "He is an awesome young entrepreneur. He made delicious hamburgers and steak and chicken tacos, but the twist was the quality of the food used and the extensive preparation, which used more spices and ingredients. It was high-quality, only a little more expensive, but affordable and extremely reasonable. It was a really good product."

    He added, "there were lines at his stand. It was extremely popular. I haven't seen this sort of food at a fair before and the response was tremendous. I think he is on to something."

    Midway Trends
    The midway by Strates featured two rides at the fair, a "bigger than most" Giant Wheel and a new Carousel. "We have expanded our Kiddie Rides, so the new carousel was probably more popular than the wheel," said Strates. "There seems to be an increase in new families with young kids, especially at these two New York fairs and we are catering to them."

    But the bigger Giant Wheel also enhanced the 2014 Strates Marketing program. "A bigger giant wheel is a great big bill board that you can see from the Interstate," said Strates. "anytime you do exit surveys, the number one source of attracting fairgoers is visibility. People will come if they can see there is a midway."

    Strates also added that the smaller private events like those organized by Fair Productions have their own set of obstacles with which to contend. "The smaller fairs can be a challenge, especially with higher fuel costs, the government increasing regulations and paper work and DOT (Department of Transportation) check points," said Strates.

     The issue is that the smaller fairs mean reduced revenue, but the costs for the carnival can be as high as higher revenue events. "It is getting harder to put them on your route, especially in the Midwest where the distances can be fairly long," said Strates. "But in the northeast, the they are easier to manage and these two fairs are profitable for us."

    Mini-Vacations
    For Schuman though, whose Fair Productions have been organizing fairs for two decades, business is most dependent on mother nature. "When it is sunny, it is great," said Schuman. "We promote our events well, and things seem a little bit up, but when it rains on a Friday, it's down."

    The smaller fairs may not have the wide support of the agriculture industry, the simple fun of outdoor amusements seems to increase in importance in today's culture.  "People seem to be enjoying themselves, and fairs seem to be getting more popular because there is a sincerity to the enjoyment of the fair," he said.

    In fact, this simplicity was the most reassuring aspect of the start of Schuman's season. "Everywhere you go now, you see people with their faces buried in their smart phones, they are looking at their texts, their messages, the internet. People get together for dinner and they don't even talk with each other anymore. But a fair is a diversion and you see people enjoying the fair and each other. When people go to the fair it is like going on a mini-vacation. They leave their world behind and enjoy the simple things if life."

    He added, "It makes me smile to see people at the fair not looking at their phones when they are at our fairs. Then I know they are having a nice time. They're enjoying life."





  • Ohio's Pickaway County Fair relies on local entertainment to draw crowds
    7/18/2014

    Bob Black, less than two weeks after the 2014 Pickaway County Fair concluded, was still running, still in a hurry to get things done.

    Black, president of the Pickaway County Agricultural Society, was on his way to meet officials from a neighboring fair in Ohio to see if they could help provide pointers about raising the necessary funds to build a new combination animal show-ring and office building that estimates say will cost about $3.5 million dollars.

    The building that Black and others want to see replaced was constructed in the late 1930s and early 40s. It's ramshackle and practically unsafe now, he said, and the Pickaway County Board of Commissioners is reluctant to provide the money to build a new one. In fact, the commissioners have offered only $2,500 toward the construction costs, about the same amount of money the commissioners provide to the fair each year.

    Still, Black said he's confident the job will get done, through grants, fund raisers, public support or other means - the show must go on.

    The Pickaway County Fair, in a small, rural burg on the Sciotco River, about 20 miles from Columbus, Ohio and 100 miles from Cincinnati, has survived since 1943, when it first started as a part of the famous Pumpkin Festival in Circleville, Ohio. The fair headquarters are located on 65 acres of land in Circleville, Ohio, where the water towers are shaped like pumpkins and painted bright orange.

    The Pumpkin Festival is still held in October every year. The fair is now a separate part of the festivities held in the mostly agricultural area, and agriculture and country living is all about what gets residents in the surrounding communities excited.

    "On Friday night, at the pickup truck pull, we couldn't have gotten another vehicle on the grounds," said Black, his voice still hinting at the excitement of an almost more-than-capacity crowd.

    The eight-day fair was held from June 21 through June 28.

    The cost for admission to the Pickaway County Fair is $5 with ride wristbands from noon to 5 p.m. for $10. Ride wristbands that can be used until midnight cost $15. Senior citizens, over 60 years old, were admitted to the fair for $2, and there were lots of special pricing opportunities, especially for seniors, said Black.

    Royalty was selected on Sunday evening when the fair King and Queen were chosen. Bowen Boldoser and Sydney Black were chosen as the 2014 junior fair king and queen. First attendants were Caleb Welch and Kendra Gabriel. Boldoser, 16, is the son of Russ and Julie Boldoser of Kingston, Ohio. He is an eight-year member of the Pickaway Clover Mixers 4H Club.

    Black, 16, is the daughter of Bill and Lynn Black of Ashville, Ohio. She is a nine-year member of Walnut Creek Barn Busters 4H Club, a three-year member of Teays Valley Future Farmers of America and a two-year member of the Pickaway County Junior Fair Board.

    Welch is the 17-year-old son of Timothy and Kimberly Welch of Ashville, Ohio. He is an eight-year member of Walnut Wonder Workers 4H Club and has served for three years on the Junior Fair Board. Gabriel is the 17-year-old daughter of Troy and Vonda Gabriel of Stoutsville, Ohio. She is a 10-year member of 4H and a three-year member of Teays Valley Future Farmers of America.

    For most of the youngsters in schools surrounding Pickaway, the Future Farmers of America and the 4H clubs are the highlight of their educational years, said Black.
    "Seven Hundred or eight hundred kids in the local schools are members of the agriculture clubs and took part in the fair," he said. "There are three high schools in the county and 950 kids came to participate from those three schools. They had cooking exhibits, sewing, things like that. Ours is the first fair in the state every year, and the kids flock to it."

    Although steer numbers in Pickaway have been down recently, the ag shows at the fair were still amazing, according to Black. Fifty dairy beef feeders were in the shows, he said, 300 hogs, 50 sheep, 100 goats and about 400 animals were sold in the shows put on by the high school students. Black said he didn't have the amount of money they made as yet, but it is always impressive.

    Waiting for the numbers in this primarily agricultural fair is one of the hardest parts, said Black. Fair officials are estimating that about 25,000 to 30,000 people attended the Pickaway County Fair during the full week, he said. He and his staff are still trying to get the numbers together, he said, and they're still waiting for profit summaries to come rolling in. He said they are estimating they had a record crowd this year but won't know for sure for a couple of weeks.

    The fair has no name entertainment. It's something that the crowds have shown they're simply not interested in, he said, so that effort was abandoned several years ago. For entertainment, the fair depends on the regionally-popular Circleville Pumpkin Show Band and local entertainment.

    Harness racing kicked off the fair on Saturday, leading into the week of county fair events. There was also a demolition derby, tractor pulls, including a junior tractor pull, and arts and crafts shows.

    There was rain the first three or four days of the fair, and that may have dampened attendance somewhat, said Black. The area got 3 inches of rain during the first three days of the event, and it started raining on Tuesday night, when the rodeo – another popular event – was only about half over.

    "It was hot in the day time, but it cooled off at night, so that worked out all right," said Black.

    Triple Treat Shows, based in Cincinnati, Ohio provided the midway,  just as the company has for the last several years. It's always a clean, safe environment, said Black, but he was dissatisfied with the number of rides that were brought to the fair.

    "They brought about five kiddie rides and four big rides, and I would have liked to have seen more," he said. "I hope that's something we can work on for next year."
    Black said the fair was advertised through radio, television, a couple of billboards and in one local newspaper that has a circulation of only about 7,000 subscriptions.
    "How do you know what works and what don't work when you're talking about advertising"?  he  asked.

    He said he hasn't yet gotten the figures back for the advertising budget. For now, the only figure he's waiting for is the final cost of the multi-purpose building he wants for the fair. He hopes it will be ready for next year.


  • NJ Valley Amusements Provides Park's First Midway for 4th
    7/16/2014

    Jersey City, N.J. -The Freedom and Fireworks Festival marked the return of fireworks to the Jersey Side of the Hudson River, and what better enhancement to a celebration of all things America than a midway. N.J. Valley Amusements provided about 10 rides and a popcorn stand, giving the urban setting an unmistakable county fair feel that enhanced the family-friendly atmosphere.

    The sprawling, 1,212-acre  Liberty State Park - the only state park in the heavily populated New Jersey counties of Bergen, Essex and Hudson - is often used for events. The backdrop of the Hudson River, Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty make the park particularly photogenic. But the July 4th midway by N.J. Valley Amusements is the first time Liberty State Park, which opened in 1976, has hosted rides.

    Good Park for a Midway
    "The park is good for a midway," said John Cooke of N.J. Valley Amusements (The family-owned company was founded by John's parents and the second generation, now the owners and operators, eschew formal titles). "Very open. As a day event, it is very good. Except  for the rain."

    "It is a beautiful park," said Donna Cooke. "There was a lot of room. It definitely has definitely has potential for future fairs and midways."

    Jersey City - the second largest city in New Jersey - has gained attention for being the home of a growing number of millenials and young families. The 38-year-old Jersey City mayor, Steve Fulop, inaugurated one year ago, wants Jersey City to be the "greatest mid-sized city" in the United States.

    Responding to New York
    Through the years, Liberty State Park offered spectacular views of the nationally renowned Macy's Fireworks display put on by New York City, but after the Big Apple decided to move the Macy's Fireworks display to the East River - out of view of New Jersey residents - Jersey City officials worked quickly to fill the void with the Freedom and Fireworks Festival.

    "We are excited to bring fireworks back to Jersey City and to have the premier Fourth of July event in New Jersey," said Mayor Fulop. "This will truly be a national event and will be a great day of entertainment for the entire family."

    Tropical Storm Arthur
    According to John Cooke, the city of Jersey City after announcing the fireworks, approached the N.J-based company, who has a history of bringing rides to events in Jersey City.

    The event was scheduled to start at noon and run until 10:30 p.m., although the fireworks display started at 9 pm, the scheduled time for the midway to close. The Midway was located in the southwest portion of the park while in at the northeaster corner of the park -a peninsula tip that also serves as the home harbor of the Liberty Landing Marina - was the main viewing area for the fireworks display - as well as the main stage which presented free pre-fireworks, evening concerts by country stars Craig Morgan and Kristen Redmond as well the Budweiser Clydesdales, along with the Budweiser Brewmaster Experience and Beer Gardens. (Budweiser was a major sponsor of the Freedom and Fireworks Festival).

    This main area was more than a ¼ mile from the NJ Valley Amusement carnival rides, but in-between these two book ends of the festival were dozens of vendors and food trucks and two stages, one featuring bands from the New Jersey/New York area and the other showcasing performers for children in the afternoon, then a massive drum circle until 9 pm.

    Although doors opened on time, for much of the day, residual rain from Tropical Storm Arthur dampened the spirits and ridership. Gusts of wind and rain towards mid-afternoon forced the cancellation of a children's theater event and at times, fairgoers scrambled to find cover.

    Mid-Sized Midway
    About 4:30 pm, the rain ceased and the sky cleared and lines began to form around the NJ Valley Amusements tickets booths and at many of the rides. The Cooke Family brought 10 rides to the Jersey City midway, including the Fireball, Hurricane, Round Up, Himalaya and the Dragon Wagon, a children's roller coaster.

    The organizers of the Freedom and Fireworks Festival forecasted more than 100,000 attendees, although an estimated 60,00 reportedly attended. "When the rain finally stopped, peoples started coming in," said Donna Cooke. "The day didn't turn out that great, but towards the end it turned out very good. Judging by other events we have had that precede fireworks, people don't really come until after dinner and they go on rides before the fireworks."

    For N.J. Valley Amusements, the Jersey City event was just another stop on what is shaping up to be a positive season. "The summer has been pretty good so far," said  George Harris, Superintendent, who has been with NJ Valley Amusements. since 1989. "People still like coming out for the rides. They seem to have more money to spend. Gas has gone up this summer, so that is a factor. The fuel prices affect how well the season is. But overall, it has been good."

    The N. J. Valley Amusements season runs about six months, from March to October. "The spring was kind of wet, said Harris. "That hurt some."

    At Liberty State Park, as the late-afternoon sky cleared, Harris said, "see,  the rain stopped and the people are coming out. They want a good seat for the fireworks, they like the rides. The weather is turning our way."

    "This is a mid-sized event for us.," said John Cooke. "We mainly play New Jersey events, we used to play more New York events, but there is a lot more regulations and paperwork with New York. Combined with the price of gasoline, playing New York for us is getting less and less economically feasible."

    Even though New Jersey still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the Northeast, there have been positive economic signs at the N.J. Valley Amusements midway. "People are spending more," said Donna Cooke. "Not a lot more, but it is noticeable. People do have more money to spend or are more willing to spend money, more so then in recent years."

     For the Cooke family, the appeal of a Garden State midway remains evergreen. "Rides are still a good value," said Gary Cooke. "It is affordable entertainment. With events like this, people can come and support their community and have a mini-vacation." 





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Houghton Enterprises
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7/17/2014 - 7/26/2014
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7/17/2014 - 7/26/2014
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Fair Hill, MD
7/18/2014 - 7/26/2014
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7/20/2014 - 7/26/2014
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7/22/2014 - 7/27/2014
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7/22/2014 - 7/27/2014
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Mary Vakulskas, mother of Carnival Priest, John Vakulskas passes

Mary Vakulskas, loving mother of Tom, Janet,Maria and Father John Vakulskas died July 20, 2014 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Visitation, Wednesday, July 23 3-8 p.m. at the
Christy-Smith Funeral Home
Larkin Chapel
2320 Outer Drive North
Sioux City IA 51104
712.239.9918

Funeral: Thursday, July 24 at 10:30 a.m.
Church of the Nativity
4242 Natalia Way
Sioux City, IA 51106
712.276.0980

  Posted by Matt Cook on 7/22/2014
Walter F. Larson, original manufacturer of the Super Loops, passes

Walter F. Larson, original manufacturer of the Super Loops ride, passed away on July 18, 2014.  Walter F. Larson was born on Sept. 26, 1930, to Walter W. Larson and Anita Jarvis Larson.  Upon graduation from Plainview High School, he attended American Flyers pilot training school in Fort Worth. He married his high school sweetheart Sharon Turner on April 9, 1950. He worked for Claude Hutcherson as a charter pilot and held special fond memories of the medical charter flights he flew. Later, he opened a Ferguson tractor dealership which became known as Larson-Turner Massey-Ferguson located at Fifth Street and Yonkers in Plainview. After selling the dealership to the James Brothers, he ventured into manufacturing high clearance tractors. He possessed a unique and uncanny ability to take what was good and make it awesome. These tractors were customized for a number of unique applications which included being used on tomato plantations, harvesting grapes and corn de-tasseling. He also manufactured Versa-trac highway sweepers. In the early 1970s, he began manufacturing amusement rides and is best known for the Super Loops carnival ride, known today as The Ring of Fire. Featured in the movie "Big, "SuperLoops was the ride Tom Hanks was not big enough to ride. He retired from this business in 2007.

He is preceded in death by a daughter, Melinda Larson. He is survived by his wife of more than 64 years, Sharon Larson; sister Sally Hale of Lubbock; daughters, Sarah Larson of Elgin, Texas, Loretta Haynes and husband Jim of Las Cruces, N.M., and Alice Kofahl and husband Lloyd of Dallas. He is survived by six grandchildren - Dr. Ann Marie Baker and her husband Dr. Chris Baker of Damon, Texas, Andrea Hebison and husband Kent of Lubbock, Larson Hampton and wife Brandi of Aledo, Texas, Katherine Kofahl, Laura Kofahl and Lee Kofahl, all of Dallas. He is survived by eight great-grandchildren, Aria Gras, Ainsley Baker, Preston Baker, Kayden Russell, Addison Hampton, Levi Hampton, Ashlynn Hebison and Zavery Hebison; nephews Tom Andrews of Bowling Green, Va., Jim Andrews of Lubbock, and niece Anita Page of Lubbock.

Memorial services for Walter F. Larson were held on July 21, 2014.  Memorial contributions may be made to: St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 710 Joliet St., Plainview, TX 79072 or Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, 600 SW 11th Ave., Amarillo, TX 79101 or to one's favorite charity.



  Posted by Obituary on 7/21/2014
Wade Shows ranked top finalist by Florida State Fair Authority
The Florida State Fair announced Wade Shows was the top ranked finalist to submit a bid to operate the midway at the Florida State Fair.  The Fair has invited Wade Shows to enter negotiations with the fair to coordinate the midway at the 2015, 2016, and 2017 state fairs.  If a contractual agreement between Wade Shows and the Florida State Fair Authority is not reached, the fair will then enter into negotiations with the second ranked highest bidder, Reithoffer Shows.  As more details are announced, we will report them here.  Posted by Matt Cook on 7/8/2014
Miller Spectacular expands route into Kentucky; adds five rides
Freddy Miller reported a strong start to his family's carnival, Miller Spectacular Shows, 2014 season.  Miller expanded its route into Kentucky, picking up several county fairs previously played by Myers International Midways, including the Taylor County Fair in Campbellsville.  So far, Miller has been happy with the new spots on his route and sees a lot of opportunity for growth.  "The fair board at Taylor County was great to work with.  They were very accommodating and open to ideas on ways to grow the fair in the future".   Miller also reported the purchase of five rides including a Zamperla Samba Balloon and Surfs Up.  The Samba Balloon replaces the shows old balloon ride which was damaged in an accident earlier this season.  The show also added two new Schantz food trailers earlier in the year.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 6/27/2014
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