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  • New Carnival, Promotions Help Four States Fair
    The 2016 Four States Fair saw a slight increase in attendance; hosting about 85,000 guests over the ten days. Admission was $7 for adults, $5 for children 6-12, and kids 5 and under were free. This year, the fair also offered an admission "Fun Pass" for $65; those who purchased the pass were able to come to the fair every day. In addition to regular admission prices, the Four States Fair offered admission specials on Senior Citizens Day and Salute To Our Heroes Day. Senior Citizens Day was on Sunday; seniors got in for free and the fair provided shuttles to the front gate. 

    Additionally, the fair partnered with a local hospice facility to provide senior citizens with free blood pressure tests, free food, and free blood screening. Senior Citizens Day was very well attended according to Lisa Barr, COO of the Four States Fair. Salute To Our Heroes Day took place on September 11th; all first responders were admitted into the fair for free in order to thank them for their service to the community. 

    The Four States Fair partnered with Wrights Amusements this year. Barr found Wrights Amusements at the Texas Fair and Expo Show. According to Barr; the decision to make Wrights their midway provider was an easy one; "I fell in love with them on the spot. Wrights Amusements are good people and a good carnival company. We look forward to continuing our relationship with them." Wrights Amusements offered customers $30 armbands each day of the fair; the pay one price ride option every day was very popular with fairgoers. In partnership with the Four States Fair, Wrights Amusements offered a $2 Tuesday ride special for the 2016 fair. 

    The Four States Fair provided fairgoers tons of family-oriented entertainment. On their outdoor stage, they hosted local entertainment: radio stations and popular bands. 

    Football is huge in Texarkana so the fair hosted post-football game dance-offs at the fair to encourage high school aged students and people from the community to integrate the fair into their normal football routine. All the local entertainment is included with the price of admission. Wednesday through Saturday, the fair held PRCA extreme bull riding and rodeo; "The show was very well received and had big crowds," said Barr. Additionally, on the first Saturday of the fair, they had a demolition derby which also had a great  crowd. 

    Barr felt that these thrilling acts attracted audiences of all ages. The fair also had Bob Burnham's Family Entertainment Show, which hosts mock game shows for families to enjoy, as well as The Banana Derby, a dog racing show with monkey jockeys! 

    The Four States Fair also uses their Agricultural Learning Center as a family attraction throughout the fair. The Ag learning center is usually used as a field trip area throughout the year but is a main attraction during the fair. The staff in the Ag Learning Center gave away free ice cream, answered questions about the educational displays, let children milk a fake cow, and monitored the petting zoo complete with facts and general information about the different animals. 

    Food plays an important role at the Four States Fair and is often people's sole motivation to come out each year. According to Barr, "A lot of people come out just for the fair food." 

    One of the most popular items is the peanut patty, they're generally only sold at the fair so people wait all year to get them. The fair also boasts an impressive amount of fried foods including the cajun corn dog (new this year), and fried cookies and candies. One of the fair's year-round vendors tried a new item at Barr's urging: the funnel cake hamburger. Barr loves working with the vendors and pushing them to try new and creative menu items each year; "I am very fortunate. I have a great group of vendors who put up with my ideas." 

    4-H and FFA have a big presence at the Four States Fair. They host the largest livestock show in Arkansas for junior breeding beast cattle; this year's show included over 600 head of cattle. In addition to livestock shows, 4-H and FFA members participate in goat shows, dairy shows, and swine shows throughout the fair. Every year, they hold a couple of volunteer kid's days at the fair for kids in pre-k all the way up to 3rd grade. On the volunteer kids days, the participants get to enjoy the agricultural learning center, and see a min-rodeo created just for them.

    The Four States Fair has lots of domestic exhibits so that members of the community can participate in the fair. They have one building strictly for fine arts and photography displays. The Home Arts section of the domestic exhibits includes canning, baking, sewing, clothing, woodworking and needle-working as well as many other displays. All judging is done prior to the fair and then entries are displayed for fairgoers to enjoy. Anyone can enter their home or fine arts goods into the competition so it is a great way for many members of the community to get involved with the fair. 

    Advertising the Four States Fair is a unique challenge as the fair staff aims to get their message out to residents of four different states: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. They do a $40,000 cash buy for media advertising as well as some additional trade. 

    The Four States Fair advertises on television, radio, print, and social media. Barr mentioned that they have pulled back a bit on their print budget but still make sure they advertise in all the local social magazines. This year, the fair staff decided to increase their social media budget from $100 to $1,000. Barr says that this has made a huge difference for the fair and they've noticed a lot more participation on their social media sites. Barr does Facebook posts and contests where customers like and share statuses and post their favorite fair photo in order to win a fair fun package. The Four States Fair makes sure that their message is consistent in all marketing efforts; "We want our customers to feel like a kid; leave all stress and worries behind when they're at the fair," says Barr. 
    The Four States Fair is a 501-C(3) nonprofit organization. The fair receives some grants for advertising. The fair operates the rest of the year on year-round events, they try to make sure their facilities are constantly booked in order to fund fair activities. Barr says that they operate on a $1M budget. 

  • Arkansas State Fair signs NAME to provide midway in 2017
    After 22 years with Deggeller Attractions, the Arkansas State Fair has signed North American Midway Entertainment to a new 5-year agreement with a 5 year option to provide the carnival at the event. 

    President and General Manager of the Arkansas State Fair, Ralph Shoptaw, made the announcement and said he was looking forward to the changes N.A.M.E. will bring, but remains very thankful for the all that the Deggeller family has provided to the fair in the past. "The staff at Deggeller Attractions are wonderful people and we have thoroughly enjoyed our association with them all these years", said Shoptaw.

    According to Shoptaw, the Arkansas State Fair has been looking at N.A.M.E. for a while. N.A.M.E.'s biggest appeal is their recognition as one of the best carnivals in the industry and their record as the largest traveling amusement park in North America; "This is a really good opportunity for us to bring in a carnival with their reputation. N.A.M.E. is a really great show" says Shoptaw. 

    Perhaps one of the most important factors in signing N.A.M.E. to run the midway is the routing, after NAME's acquisition of the Tula State Fair midway contract last year. The International Unit of N.A.M.E. will now move only about 275 miles into Little Rock instead of making a jump almost triple that amount into Columbia for the South Carolina State Fair. From Little Rock, the unit has a 450- mile jump into Mobile for the Greater Gulf State Fair.

    When making his decision, Shoptaw spoke with Mark Andrus from the Tulsa State Fair to get some feedback. Andrus spoke highly of N.A.M.E. and praised the job they had done in 2016 at the Tulsa State Fair. Once Shoptaw heard such a glowing recommendation, his decision was easier to make. 

    Andrus and Shoptaw agreed that N.A.M.E. has fantastic customer relations: an important feature for large, state fairs. Customer relations staff and booths are set up at various locations throughout the midway in order to make sure guest's needs are met and the midway stays neat and clean. 

    Shoptaw looks forward to taking advantage of the customer service N.A.M.E. provides as well as the almost 65 rides that will come with the International Unit. The Arkansas State Fair will have 2 spectacular roller coasters, the newly rebuilt Polar Express ride, the Giant Wheel, the Century Wheel, the Mega Drop, and many other new midway attractions.  Shoptaw believes the addition of such spectacular and thrilling rides will add to the success of the fair. 

    Shoptaw has been working closely with many N.A.M.E. team members to make sure the transition is seamless. Danny Huston, Jeff Blomsness and Tony Diaz, have worked closely with the Arkansas State Fair team. 

    Shoptaw has been very pleased with the expertise of the N.A.M.E. staff, especially Tony Diaz, manager of the International Unit; "he has been in the business all his life, he's a great carnival manager" observed Shoptaw.

    Danny Huston, President of N.A.M.E., released this statement about signing the Arkansas State Fair contract; " North American Midway Entertainment is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide a world-class midway experience for the Arkansas State Fair patrons beginning in 2017. Ralph Shoptaw, together with his team, have developed an event known for delivering high-quality family entertainment year after year. We look forward to building on this success through a strong partnership with the Arkansas State Fair over the next decade." 

    Last week, the fair announced that it would be running a total of 11 days in 2017, one day longer than previous fairs.  The fair traditionally opened on Friday, however, it will open on Thursday this year.  

    "We have been seriously considering this move for several years and our executive committee felt like the timing was right," Shoptaw said in a statement.

  • Promotions, Headliners Boost Jacksonville Fair
    The 2016 Jacksonville Fair took place November 4th-13th with preview days on November 2nd and 3rd. This year's theme, "Red, White, and You" gave the fair a patriotic feel that was fun for all customers. 

    Admission and ride specials, family entertainment, concerts on the main stage, as well as plenty of agriculturally based exhibits and shows kept fairgoers entertained throughout the entire fairgrounds. 

    Normally, admission to the Jacksonville Fair is $10 for adults, $5 for children (6-12) and seniors (65+), and children under 6 are free. 

    However, the Jacksonville Fair offered admission specials almost every day of the 2016 fair, allowing more affordable fun for families.

    On opening preview day, November 2nd, admission was $3. Seniors got into the fair free on Friday, November 4th and Friday November 11th. For Saturday's special, The Jacksonville Fair focused on the Navy vs Notre Dame game which took place at EverBank Field in Jacksonville that day; from 10am-4pm students 17 and under as well as anyone with a Notre Dame/Navy game day ticket were admitted into the fair free. 

    On November 8th, the fair hosted a "Terrific Tuesday" special for their family day; one child 12 and under was admitted free with the purchase of a full price, adult admission ticket. 

    Friday, November 11th, the fair saluted military men, women, and their families. All military and dependents were admitted free with a valid military ID. Saturday, November 12, students ages 17 and under were again admitted free from 10am-4pm. Finally, on Sunday, November 13th, anyone with a Jaguar/Houston game day ticket got into the fair free.

    This year's fair featured plenty of entertainment for fairgoers of all ages to enjoy. Every day of the fair there was a concert or show on the main stage. 

    Blackjack Billy, Chris Janson, Clayton Anderson, Easton Corbin, Branch & Dean, Trent Harmon, Craig Campbell, Little River Band, RaeLynn, Foghat, and DJ Eric Leffler rocked the stage throughout the 2016 fair. 

    Additionally, The Gathering Concert on Sunday, November 6th was a huge hit; it featured renowned gospel and Christian singers/groups. 

    On Saturday, November 12th, the fair hosted Dance Day, featuring amazing local dance talent all day long. 

    In addition to featured concerts and local acts on the stage, the fair provided plenty of family entertainment. The Firefighter Show, NoJoe's Clown Circus, Kachunga & The Alligator Show, Robinson's Racing Pigs, the CW17 Video Lounge, The Kenny Ahern Family Comedy Show, Civil Air Patrol, Florida Crops, Wine Down and Paint the Town, Kidz Science Safari, and The Butterfly Encounter were all at the 2016 Jacksonville Fair to provide customers with non-stop entertainment. 

    The Jacksonville Fair contracts with Belle City Amusements as their midway provider. Belle City provided a big variety of rides and games. 

    Additionally, Belle City and the Jacksonville Fair offered many ride specials so that families could affordably take advantage of all that Belle City Amusements had to offer. 

    The Ride Fanatic Wristband was available on Fridays and Saturdays of the fair; the wristband was $25 and included unlimited rides. 

    Monday-Thursday of the fair, wristbands for unlimited rides were available for $20; a special was run for a $10 band on Tuesday and Friday the 11th for military members and families. 

    On opening day, Belle City featured $3 rides and an unlimited ride wristband for $15. 

    Lastly, the fair and Belle City sold an advance sale Mega Pass; available before November 1st. Mega Passes could be purchased online or at local Walgreens stores; the $20 Mega Pass featured unlimited rides and gate admission for any one day of the 2016 Jacksonville Fair. The daily ride specials and variety on the midway resulted in a successful year for Belle City at the Jacksonville Fair. 

    4-H and FFA programs are alive and well at the Jacksonville Fair. This year, livestock competitions were lively and varied including: beef cattle, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits, geese, and turkeys. 

    Kids from the area come to the fair ever year to show their animals and reap the benefits of a year's worth of hard work and discipline. 

    In addition to competition, 4-H and FFA areas at the fair are also used to educate the public about agriculture. The Jacksonville Fair features "Old McDonald's Farm House" where fairgoers can watch baby chickens hatch, visit "Farmer Tom" to learn how to make rope, and talk to Scrambler the robotic egg to learn more about chickens, and a farming lifestyle in general. 

    The 2016 Jacksonville Fair also hosted several opportunities for domestic exhibits at the fair. They held contests in fine art, practical art, photography, Christmas crafts, needlecrafts, weaving, and many others. 

    The domestic exhibits and competitions provide people in the community an opportunity to directly participate in the fair. 

    The fair always gets lots of entries and judges are often blown away by the creativity exhibited by the community. 

    Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the Jacksonville Fair is the cooking contest sponsored by King Arthur flour. Contestants make dishes using King Arthur flour and present them to the judges for evaluation. The cooking contest draws enthusiastic participants and eager crowds. 

    In addition to agricultural and domestic contests, the fair holds scholarship contests for "students looking to further their education at a college, university or technical school from Duval, Nassau, St Johns, Baker, or Clay Counties." 

    The Jacksonville Fair scholarships have been awarded since 1955 and over $1,000,000 has been distributed to local students. The fair's Lasso Club has a big hand in contributing to the scholarships as well as providing grants to local 4-H and FFA groups. The Jacksonville Fair and its partners are devoted to investing in the community's youth and the deep, agricultural history of the fair. 

    The Jacksonville Fair advertises through many media channels such as radio, tv, and print. Recently, as digital media has become more popular, the Jacksonville Fair has been sure to keep up with the trend. The Jacksonville Fairgrounds has accounts on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. 

    The 2016 Fair held many contests on their social media platforms, giving away VIP concert tickets, free entry to the fair, drink vouchers, and many other prizes. They used the hashtag #jaxfair to stay connected and interact with the social media community. 

  • Fair Advantage: Industry Veteran Offering Customized Event Solutions
    Hands on is one way to describe the approach of Fair Advantage, a fair consultancy firm founded by Rick Ferenette this year, but it is not the company's only attribute distinguishing it from similar enterprises. 

    Frenette may be the CEO, but his approach to consulting is very hands on - its his boots that are on the ground assessing a fair. The biggest difference between Fair Advantageand other consultants is that Frenette emphasizes that his recommendations are customized to the unique needs of the client. 

    While only few months olds, Fair Advantage has already been utilized by the Indiana State Fair, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, the Langlade County Fair, and the Big E (Eastern States Expositions)

    Experienced Professional
    Carnivalwarehouse  talked with Frenette after the Fair Advantage debut at the 2016 International Association of Fairs & Expositions Convention & Trade Show. It was the first time for this industry veteran on the "other side" of the trade show floor booth.

     "The convention went well, I had a lot of people at the booth, which was a way of introducing myself as CEO of Fair Advantage," he said. "We were very well received and there is a real need in the industry for what we provide, strategic solutions to project management."

    Frenette has more than 30 years of experience in the fairs and events industry-- his first job in the early-1960s was operating a Pronto Pups deep fryer at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair in Chippewa Falls. He went on to earn a Masters of Business Administration Degree, concentrating in Finance, from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin. 

    Frenette received his Certified Fair Executive designation in 1988, served as IAFE Chairman  in 2008 and was President of the Midwest Association of Fairs in 2005. 

    His fair executive gigs range from Finance Director at the Minnesota State Fair, Executive Director of the Ohio State Fair, Executive Director, Utah State Fair and more recently Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Fair, a position he held from 2010 to earlier this year.

     During his tenure at that fair, one of the largest in the Midwest, he doubled revenue, increased attendance by more than 50 percent, and created Spin City, one of the largest and most successful independent midways of any U.S. fair. In 2015, the Wisconsin State Fair marked the third straight year its attendance exceeded the one million mark, reaching 1,030,881.

    Customized Approach
    During his long career, Frenette worked with and has seen his share of fair consultants and when he decided to form Fair Advantage, he knew what type of consultant he did not want to be from the get-go. 

    Typically fair consultants "come in, write a report, and get big money and demand these changes be made," said Frenette. "Fair Advantage helps fairs to have an advantage in the industry, and to consider things that are positive, it is not a negative situation as it can be with some consultants."

    He added, "I talk with the clients, and find out what they are looking for and what they need. We bounce ideas off each other and I show them things that worked for other fairs. They hire me to find their challenges and we address them and help them reach their goals."
    Many fair consultants come in, assess a fair and issue a report that "tells the fair what they should do, offering only one option," said Frenette. "Organizationally, I am never going to tell the customer what to do."

    Instead, Frenette takes a holistic approach, then offers a range of well-thought out solutions. "We look at all the what ifs, the pluses and minuses of each option we offer. What is often needed is another set of eyes on a problem or area that can be improved, examples of what has worked in other places."

    Not only does the Fair Advantage approach engage the fair manager and other stake holders in developing a solution - enabling the client to actually customize the solution for his or her specific fair - Frenette draws upon a professional network of more than a dozen fair professionals, most with specific expertise on a segment of the business. "The process is that I am the CEO, finding the clients and discovering their challenges," he said. I have a group of professionals, an advisory panel of professionals, whom I draw upon as needed." 

    Members of this network generally have more than 30 years experience with fairs, including financing, midways, concessions. Facility management and other areas. Typically, one or two are tapped per project. 

    Objective Perspective
    Like in other industries, fair consultants serve an instrumental role in giving fresh perspectives to key decision makers. 

    According to Eugene J. Cassidy, President and CEO of Eastern States Exposition, leading up the fair, he began working with Frenette on an informal basis while Fair Advantage was being developed. "There are things that happen in an organizational environment, that you need a high level of advice, that is kept confidential," he said. "It can be inappropriate to get that level of advice from inside the organization, because it can compromise my leadership position and it lacks the objectivity of an outside observer."

    Cassidy say that Frenette came out to the fair a day and half early and spent three days at the fair, with a subsequent report that included insights on layout, public safety, concessionaires, and both pedestrian and vehicular traffic analysis. Some of the onsite suggestions Cassidy was able to implement for the 2016 fairs, although most were for future consideration. "I received the report quickly, and it was filled with great observations and suggestions. He is a great resource. Some things we were able to deploy right away, others will be deployed in 2017. 

    Cassidy has use consultants in the past, often with mixed results. Often consultants have a "disregard for the capacity of the fair and the economics of your situation. Somebody like Rick, who has been at the helm, knows the limitations and that's where is options come in. He understands the need for flexibility."

    Hands On
    Cindy Hoye, Executive Director, Indiana State Fair Commission said she decided to use Fair Advantage, "because I have known Rick for many years, I reached out to him when he was developing his company because I recognized the value of industry knowledge, especially from someone who has led a Midwest fair. He understood the culture here and was able to tap into that culture quickly."

    Part of the Fair Advantage process at the Indiana State Fair, according to Hoye, had Frenette "shadowing" key directors, vice presidents and other personnel, and also attending several meetings. "Everyone was using him as a sounding board, but then he really dug into the fair operations and our financials. He was looked at anything and everything." 

    One of the most immediate areas Frenette improved was "a good scrub on our concessions, and looked at what we should be doing, such as pricing, layout and what purveyors we should be using."

    Other areas of recommendations included ticketing, admission gates and campgrounds. "He gave a great deal of recommendations. You need another set of eyes, not just to offer changes but to sometimes validate some of our assumptions." 

    She added, "he didn't just write a report or meet me with me, he met with the board, the entire team. He really immersed himself in our entire operation." 

    The difference between Fair Advantage and other consultants Hoye has used has to do with the immersive approach. "Immersion is really the best word, he didn't just give a cursory view. He went into the soul of the organization, and not just a high-level glance. He understands the fair doesn't happen in a vacuum."

    The 2016 Indiana State Fair was negatively impacted by weather - with 9 days of rain - over five inches fell - and four days of a heat index of 95 degrees - not to mention tornado warnings and lightening storms. 

    Frenette was at the fair and his work rapidly evolved beyond the observational. "He was a kindred spirit, together with us in the trenches, talking with the staff and board, not just offering useful suggestions but boosting morale. He brought tremendous value at the fair, but also we are constantly learning, constantly growing our efficiencies and practices, and he helped us to look at things differently." 

    Filling A Niche
    After leaving the Wisconsin State Fair, Frenette was not ready to retire but as he started searching opportunities, his friends and contacts began asking for advice. "Fair managers and their boards are eager for expertise, both in managing their fairs and managing their facilities," he said. "A number of them began asking me about things like contracting, relationships with carnival companies, concessionaires, and financing, areas where I have a strong background. I had the experience with the political situation fairs can be placed in, and many of the risks and rewards of the fair specifics. I realized it was time share my experience, because I enjoy working with fairs and started the process that led to Fair Advantage."

    Essentially Frenette saw a niche that "catapulted me into making this a permanent company, because of how many fairs really needed this sort of consultant."

    Issues facing the fair that he's effectively addressed includes lowering budgets, working with a smaller staff, concessionaires and overall operations. "The recommendations are customized to the needs of the fair, whether it is a small, mid-sized or large fairs, and I work with the fair manager, the staff and fair boards as needed. It's been my experience that fairs have several different entities involved and you have be aware of them all."

    One example of an area of assessment that Fair Advantage has effectively conducted are concessionaires, food & beverage as well as merchants. "You have to look at the entire concessionaire operation, look, layout, mix and contracting. You can not just isolate one issue, their percentages. It's not just one thing, it's an entire operation, and then you have to look at all the recommendations, and then the what ifs for each recommendation."
    Another Fair Advantage specialty is Fair Financials, often requiring an even more comprehensive assessment. "Fairs welcome a look at their financing issues, which involves fair and non-fair financing, revenues and areas where they can increase revenue and other areas where they can produce savings," he said. "This really depends on the fair, and the issues can be with the carnival company, admissions, any number of areas. You have to look at the profit and losses and the projected budgets." 

    One challenge many fairs are now facing is the transition to electronic ticketing and scanning, a purview no longer exclusive to larger fairs. "Smaller and mid-size fairs are adapting these systems and they need to learn how to optimize that information," said Frenette.

    He points out, that implemented properly, the new ticketing and scanning systems reduce snarls at the admission gates and provides better accounting, "it is real time management, so you have better data on spending and fairgoer traffic, so you can better arrange staffing, while increasing revenues and reducing expenses."

    "A lot of fairs suffer from a lack of funding," he said. "Many are governmental agencies and suffer financially when the funding gets cut off because they are not run as a businesses. At the end of the day, they have part time management and a volunteer board and it is hard financing the fairs to show a profit."

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2016 TOP 50 FAIRS
1. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
2. Texas State Fair - Dallas, TX
3. San Antonio Livestock Show & Ex. - San Antonio, TX
4. Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
5. San Diego County Fair - Del Mar, CA

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The Industry Buzz
Marko Popovich Jr. Passes
It is with great sadness to announce the passing of veteran showman, Marko Popovich, Jr. on January 16, 2017.  Visitation will be held at the National Cremation & Burial Society located at 308 E. College Ave in Ruskin, Florida on Thursday, January 19 from 12 noon until 1pm.  Masonic services will begin at 1pm.  Following the service, the family invites everyone to the IISA in Gibsonton for a celebration of life.  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 1/18/2017
Ivan Arnold, Jim Elliott, and Joe Skerbeck inducted into the Michigan Association of Fairs and Events Hall of Fame
Ivan Arnold of Arnold Amusements, James Elliott of Elliott's Amusements, and Joe Skerbeck of Skerbeck Entertainment Group were inducted into the Michigan Association of Fairs and Events Hall of Fame on Friday.  

For over seven decades, Ivan has enjoyed a fascination with the carnival industry.  In 1980, Ivan started Arnold Amusements and along with his wife Agnes and family, have grown the company to entertain millions of visitors each year throughout the states of Michigan and Florida.  Ivan is also an active member of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton, Florida; helping coordinate club events and the annual trade show and extravaganza each February.

Joe Skerbeck is a 5th generation carnival owner and has been a member of MAFE for over 50 years.  During that span, he has conducted numerous workshops at the convention and has served as an associate board member.  Joe has also been active in the OABA, currently serving on their board.  Joe believes in following his family's tradition, "Quality is paramount to us.  If things aren't 100% right we won't do them."

James Elliott, AKA Jimmy the Pipe has been active in the Michigan Fair industry since the 1950's.  His love for the show started as a youth watching the animal trains being unloaded at the Ionia Free Fair and continues on.  Jimmy has worked with many individuals in our industry and has been involved with 90% of the fairs in Michigan during his career.  He is also very active with the IISA Carnival Museum in Gibtown.

Congratulations Ivan, James, and Joe on being inducted into the MAFE Hall of Fame!
  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/15/2017
Bates Amusements to cease operation after 2017 season
It was announced during the Ohio Fair Managers meetings on Thursday that Geary Bates' Bates Amusement Company would cease operation after its 2017 season.  It is rumored that Geary's brother, Eric, who owns Bates Brothers Amusements, would pick up some of the dates.  Please keep posted to for continued coverage.  Posted by MCW Editor on 1/6/2017
Richard Repp Passes
Richard "Dick" Repp 83, of Avon, IL passed away Monday December 19, 2016, 2:52 a.m. at OSF St. Frances Medical Center Peoria, IL.  He was born Saturday December 16, 1933 in Avon, IL the son of Cecil and Rose (Mulhatten) Repp.  He married Shirley A. (Vernoy) McIntire on July 18, 1959 in St. Augustine, IL, she preceded him on July 23, 2010. 

Those left to cherish his memory are his children Cathy (Dennis) Ruff of Avon, IL, Tim Repp of Avon, IL, Pat (Kris) Repp of Kirkwood, IL and Mike (Trish) Repp of Greenville, SC; 7 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren; and siblings Regina Wall and Ernie Repp.  He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, 1 grandson (Matthew), 3 brothers, and 1 sister. 

Dick was born and raised in Avon, IL.  He graduated Avon High School.  He served in the U.S. Army as a M.P.  He was involved in the Integration of the Little Rock 9.  He worked at Gale Products for approximately 30 years.  He also worked at Western Illinois University at the Physical Plant for approximately 10 years.  He was an avid Notre Dame fan.  Dick will be remembered for his fun loving and ornery personality.

Funeral service will be Friday December 23, 2016, 11:00 a.m. at the Avon Federated Church Avon, IL.  Visitation will be Thursday evening December 22, 2016, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Avon Federated Church Avon, IL.  Burial will be in the Avon Cemetery Avon, IL.  Memorials may be made to the Avon-Abingdon Sports Boosters, the Relay for Life Angels in Action, Avon Fire Dept. and/or the Avon Federated Church.  Please sign the online guestbook at
  Posted by Obiturary on 12/20/2016
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.

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