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  • 2016 IISF Trade Show:  Day 2 Highlights
    Day 2 of the IISF Super Extravaganza and Trade Show began with some unseasonably cold weather again.  Those coming from the harsh weather of the northern regions of the US did not find much respite in the Greater Tampa Bay area.  
    Mike Knott of the Canadian National Exhibition brought the event's newly appointed Operations Director Mike Cruz along with hopes of sunny weather.  The two were celebrating an outstanding year for the CNE where they climbed to the #5 spot on the MCW Top 50 Fairs list.  
    Knott and Cruz attributed the increase this year to good weather and innovative promotions.  Knott said the fair was especially proud to be called the "Greenest Fair in North America" due to their efforts to keep the fair environmentally friendly.  
    Knott and Cruz were making the most of their Florida visit.  In addition to their visit to the Super Extravaganza and Trade Show today, the will visit the Florida State Fair, the NICA seminars and they have a special backstage tour of Legoland planned.
    Jersey Joe
    Joey Fowler of Jersey Joe's Concessions is undergoing a makeover with his concession operation.  In his case, bigger is better.  
    Last year at a state fair, Fowler saw a food stand that had extra high banners and signs.  Intrigued by the operation, he took a closer look at the construction and decided he could make some improvements.  
    Fowler's gyro stand needed upgrading and he thought the new model could be a perfect fit.  Fowler investigated trussing from Galaxy Amusement Sales, the type generally used for staging, and purchased large banners that displayed far and wide the food he serves in the stand.  The banners stand a whopping 24' high when mounted on the trusses and Fowler debuted his new gyro stand at Santa's Enchanted Forest in Miami.
    Sitting on a similar location, and in what many considered to be a tough weather year, Fowler saw dramatic increases in food grosses.  Even the committee was impressed with the stand, offering him an additional location in 2017.
    Fowler is now in the midst of framing a grab with trusses and banners and he hopes to have it ready for the 2016 season.  What Fowler sees as a great benefit to the new stand type is the adaptability of the concession.  Is a change in menu items needed?  You only need to change the banners.  
    Fowler's enterprising ways are not new.  He started in the business at age 17, working in his mother's corn dog stand in the North East.  His interest in the business grew and soon he framed his own long range basketball on the side of his mother's freezer truck.  He started on Myers' International Midways and in his first year he doubled his game operation.  
    Opportunity came knocking again when he joined Arthur Lampkin in the early 1980s when Lampkin headed to NYC to play a route that included New York City parks and landmarks such as Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium and Nassau Coliseum.  The show played some of the spots twice a year and business was good, with Fowler on the ground floor.
    It was a new event the show played over the summer that proved to be another turning point in Fowler's career.  The Meadowlands Fair, run by Marty Garin, was a new event at the iconic Giant's Stadium complex in New Jersey with incredible visibility on major highways in this populous region.  Amusements of America had booked the event but booked Lampkin in to cover year one.  
    Fowler met Garin and soon became a big part of the independent midway at the growing event.  The Meadowlands Fair is unusual in that it had an independent game and food midway and Fowler filled as many as 20 locations at the fair.  Fowler continues to play the fair to this day, now one of the largest events on the East Coast.

    Fowler's reentry into the food business also came through his connections with the Meadowlands Fair.  Marc Garin, Marty's son, was a food operator and Fowler and the younger Garin developed a close friendship.  In the mid-2000s, Marc left the business to move to Thailand and he asked his friend Fowler if he would be interested in purchasing his food trailers.  Fowler again took the initiative and his business took on a new dimension.
    Fowler now plays a largely independent route while also sometimes booking with carnivals.  Some of the events he plays include the New York State Fair, the Iowa State Fair, the Indiana State Fair, the Florida State Fair, the Kansas State Fair, the Mississippi State Fair, the Miami-Dade County Fair, the Nebraska  State Fair and the Ohio State Fair.
    Fowler reported that the 2015 season was good - he was even on a record pace for a while - until rain came in the late fall and affected some of his events such as Santa's Enchanted Forest.  Unfortunately, the beginning of the 2016 season has not been much better.  Cold weather and rain have hurt so far at the Florida State Fair.
    IGPM Group
     IGPM Group's Keith Romack was manning his booth selling punching bag machines and photo booths.  The company is  fairly new to the fair and carnival business, having worked in FECs, malls and other retail locations for many years.  
    The company has developed machines designed specifically for outdoor use and are hoping to grow their presence in the carnival market.  The photo booths, for example, are built with overhangs for rain, they are built on wheels, have bars for easy transport and are sealed throughout to keep them dry in inclement weather.
    The photo booths have green screen technology so they can create many different types of backgrounds and scenes for the pictures.    
    The company also makes several different size punching bag games.  One unit has a combination boxing machine and soccer kick.  Another version gives prizes if the  contestant can hit a triple digit number on the machine's display.  When the number is hit, the shelf drops and the prizes drops down to the bottom for retrieval by the player.  The game measures accuracy
    more than strength 
    The beauty of the machines, according to Roamck, is that they have a very small footprint but generate a significant amount of revenue.  The company currently has several units on the midway at the Florida State Fair under a revenue share agreement.
    More on the trade show tomorrow including updates on some Midwestern shows and a report on a new safety consulting company.

    2016 IISF Trade Show Coverage

  • 2016 IISF Trade Show opens to cool weather
    The 48th edition of the IISA Super  Extravaganza and Trade Show  kicked off on Tuesday, February 9th at the show center in Gibsonton, FL.  The grounds were once again filled with dozens of vendors and suppliers, ranging from rides and electrical supplies to stock for games and concession supplies.  

    The first day of the show began with the usual first day light crowds. Unseasonably cold weather, which was predicted to stay in the 50s, did not help with those who were hoping for some Florida sunshine.  

    Current IISA President Richie George was walking the floor meeting and greeting his vendors and exhibitors and making sure the show got off to a smooth start.  Outside, exhibitors such as Wisdom Industries and other ride manufacturers were putting the finishing touches on their displays.

    Mike Sandlofer Passes
    Unfortunately, the news of the passing of veteran performer and animal conservationist Mike Sandlofer reached the trade show floor as the show opened.  Sandlofer passed away after a long battle with cancer.  A fighter until the end, MCW talked with several show attendees who had talked with Sandlofer in the past couple of weeks from his hospital bed, where he was planning new ventures and putting deals together for his friends to the every end.

    Most recently, Sandlofer and his family operated two traveling wolf shows, playing many state fairs and large events throughout the country.  Mike's wife Sharon is the principal trainer for the animals and daughter Sadie operates the second unit of the show which features baby wolves.  Ever the animal conservationist, Sandlofer's show was made up of animals rescued from fur farms.  
    Sandlofer trained the animals and cared for them at his farm in South Carolina.  In addition to the wolves, Sandlofer had horses he cared for and used for many years in his Frontier Show.  The show featured his youngest daughter, Benna, as a trick rider.   The show ceased to operate a few years ago in favor of the wolf shows which were exploding  in popularity.  

    Sandlofer's love of animals has been a life long vocation.  He was the first person to rescue a beached whale and release it back into captivity.  His exploits were covered by the Long Island and New York area papers at the time. 
    After the first rescue, Sandlofer invented and patented a whale saving harness that became widely used in the rescue of the animals.  Sandlofer gave the patent for the harness away free so the whales could be rescued without a large cost to the rescuers.

    For his efforts, Sandlofer was awarded the prestigious Rolex award.  

    Sandlofer's heroics are evident with animals but he also showed his heroism by serving our country in time of war in the US Navy.  Sandlofer's career in the Navy also involved animals, where he worked with seals to try and train them to help with recovery efforts for planes and ships that sunk in the ocean.

    Out of the service, Sandlofer turned his love of animals into a businesses, producing Circus With A Purpose, a non-profit show that toured the NY area, but also  played some fairs and festivals. Sandlofer worked with schools, teaching the kids about animals and how they helped build America.  

    This theme was woven throughout many of his fair entertainment offerings.  His camel ride commemorated the camel unit that worked in the western part of the US, his petting zoo told the story of the animals that helped build America and his Frontier Show was a history lesson wrapped in a rousing patriotic show.

    Like so many in our industry, Mike was truly one of a kind, and his family, led by wife Sharon, will be carrying on his traditions with their wolf exhibits.

    A celebration of Sandlofer's life will be held at an open house this Thursday, February 11th at his niece's house at 5331 Brooke Farm Dr. in Dunwoody, GA 30338. 
    Rest in Peace Mike.


    Eddy and Ashley Noerper of Sonshine Amusements are excited about the purchase of their new Gondola Wheel from Luna Park Rides.  The company is expecting delivery on May 30th and the ride will be the first one in the United States.  

    Ashley Noerper cited the affordable cost of the ride and the ease of working with the team at Luna Park as reasons for giving the company their first order.  The ride will have 10 gondolas and travel on one trailer.  Eddy Noerper said they will have to only stack two tubs together at a time with the wheel's design and he cited the ease of setup and innovative design work as factors in his purchase decision.

    The Noerpers grew up around each other when their parents would book together when they were young.  The Noerpers own Archway Amusements and the Jones family had Jackson's United Shows.  When Ashley's grandfather Jim Jackson retired, the show split into two separate shows, Darrell and Tammy Jones started Sonshine Amusements and Jim Jr. started J&J Magic Midway.  The families' two units continue to work together and sometimes combine for larger events. 

    Ashley and Eddy were reunited when Eddy brought some rides over to help Sonshine. The couple, engaged to other people at the time, reunited and rekindled a childhood friendship that blossomed into an adult relationship.  

    The couple were married ten years ago and Eddy left his family's Archway Amusements for Sonshine. 

    The show carries approximately 20 rides including a Zumur, Paratrooper and Rock O Plane.  They travel in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama from the 2nd week in March until the end of October.  The route is made up largely of county fairs and some festivals and community celebrations.  When additional spectacular rides are needed, the company calls on Archway Amusements or PBJ Happee Days Shows owned by the Casper family.  They field up to 40 rides at some events with the combined efforts from parts of the four shows (Sonshine, J&J Magic, Archway and PBJ Happee Days Shows).

    Stay tuned tomorrow for coverage of Day 2 of the Super Extravaganza and Trade Show.

    2016 IISF Trade Show Coverage

  • Upbeat Industry, Historic Summit & H-2B Updates to Highlight ANNUAL IISF Gibtown Trade Show
    The fair industry and its major, most high-profile partner, the Mobile Amusement Industry, seems reenergized and ready to confront new challenges as it prepares for the International Independent Showmen's Foundation (IISF) Trade Show. One of the premier industry events, the IISA trade show runs February 9 - February 13, although the annual Super Bowl/Trade Show Kick-Off Party takes place February 7, followed by the Annual Big Hearted Jerry's Memorial Golf Tournament at noon the following day.   

    Other announced events include an Exhibitor Cocktail Party,  the Jamboree dinner, and the IISA Annual Banquet & Ball, featuring the Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Presentation ceremonies. The IISA installation of new officers takes place takes place after the show. 

    Several major events are scheduled, including the first ever Mobile Industry Summit, H-2B 101, an intensive workshop about coping with the new foreign worker visa regulations, and the return of SafeServe, the food safety certification program, which has become mandatory for food workers at many fairs.

    Geared Up
    As the first major industry event of the year, the Gibtown trade-show is often an opportunity for the fair industry to takes its own pulse before a new season beings. Compared to some recent years, the industry seems fit for action. "I think there were a lot of very good fairs last year" said Teresa Rimes, Trade Show Secretary for the IISA. "People are geared up for the trade show and looking toward the future."

    The IISA trade show is benefiting from a fair industry coming off a strong year and many industry observers credit a slow but significant economic recovery  as contributing factor to this upswing. One sign is that there will be more new companies at this event than in 2015. About 16 new companies are taking booths this year. While there's always an attrition of midway related companies - with new companies or at least, new to exhibiting at Gibtown - coming aboard - and of course some others dropping out - this year the influx of new vendors is higher than in recent memory, and the dropout rate, much lower.

    "There's always some fall offs, but not that many this year," said Rimes. "We are getting more new companies than we did last year."

    These newer additions are what Rimes said are Inside Exhibitors. At the IISA trade show, Outside Exhibitors are generally ride manufacturers as well as larger equipment suppliers, including concession stands, generators and bunkhouses, who need the open space to exhibit their product lines. Inside Exhibitors are vendors of all the other products and/or services  that midway, fairs and other fair industry members require. 

    Outdoor exhibitors are holding steady in terms of number. "Many are taking less space and bringing fewer rides," said Rimes. "This has been the trend for a several years, because of the internet. People can see the products on line, so companies save the costs of transporting. They have a smaller footprint. They do come here to make the deals."

    The influx of new exhibitors are of the Inside variety, "We have five new ATM companies, some new technology companies, manufacturers of wraps and signs. There are new insurance  companies. Last year, we had two companies and this year we have six. There are more companies interested in fairs and mobile amusement companies."

    Mobile Amusement Industry Summit
    The IISA Trade Show will also be the stage for the fair industry's first ever Mobile Amusement Industry Summit, the brain child of the  Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA).  The idea behind this meeting is to bring representatives from sectors of the fair industry together to discuss issues, explore directions and find common ground. 

    This ambitious and ground breaking meeting will be hosted and led by Tom Gaylin, President of Rosedale Attractions and Incoming Chairman-Elect of the OABA as well as the other OABA leaders. 

    Representatives from the International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE), National Independent Concessionaire Association, IISF and other industry organizations have confirmed their attendance and participation in the meeting, according to Gaylin. 

    He added that the OABA is actively soliciting regional and state associations join together in this history industry summit. "We don't even know of all the groups,  but there are 30 plus associations, that are local or state-wide," said Gaylin. "Many are fraternal and lot of them are not tied up in advocacy or politics and lobbying, but we want to reach out to everybody. We want to hear from the grassroots level We want to learn about their challenges so we can be aware of them too."

    Gaylin hopes the meeting will be a give-and-take forum, allowing the national group to inform the smaller organizations and affiliated groups about he national issues - especially the current status of  H-2B visa situation - and then to hear feedback about other, more-regional issues looming in the year ahead. "My idea is to unify and unite the industry, get everybody rowing in the same direction," he said. 

    The Summit - which is slotted for two hours, starting at 11:00 AM, Friday, February 12 - will follow an open-ended format. The meeting will begin with opening remarks from Gaylin and other OABA representatives, followed by remarks by representatives from the invited organizations.

    The core of the summit comes next, a Talk-Back session with other attendees, where questions, comments and a dialogue will be encouraged. "We want to communicate what the OABA has accomplished," said Gaylin.  "But once we get the ball rolling,  we hope to confront issues, make everyone feel comfortable. The OABA is open to criticism, and we want everyone to express their ideas and opinion. We want to hear grievances, and we want to mend any fences." 

    While the eventual hope is to form more effective coalitions between the sometimes disparate industry organizations, forming a new association is not the intention of the Summit. "Primarily, we want to open the lines of communication, enhance the fair industry," he explained. "The industry is changing, and with the H-2B visa lobbying, the Interstate Highway use taxes and issues like the N.J. inspection crisis and the tax-free status of fairs, our business today is more complicated. We are meeting with congressional leaders and other politicians. The Mobile Amusement Industry has a seat at the table. Our only motive is to unite the industry so we can be better advocates for everyone in the industry." 

    Gaylin added that he hopes the summit will have "a positive outcome so we can move forward. We want the summit to be constructive for the entire industry."  

    H-2B 101
    The guest worker program certainly will be discussed at the summit, but it be center stage for most of February 10th (Wednesday), beginning with H-2B 101, a new seminar designed and presented by James K. Judkins, president of JKJ Workforce Agency. 

    The interactive workshop features what Judkins describes as the "basics" from how to fill out and file the paperwork to what is a prevailing wage and how the new rules will impact the guest worker program. "I want to break down each step and explain each step because a lot has changed with the new rules," said Judkins.

    Not all of the new rules will negatively impact the mobile amusement companies and other H-2B worker employers in the fair industry this year. In December of 2016, President Obama signed an Appropriations bill passed by Congress that included some positive provisions regarding the H-2B program, including not counting returning workers to be included in the 66,000-person cap on foreign workers. "This means more visas to be available," said Judkins. "That's probably the biggest change, but there are other changes too." 

    He added, "this seminar will stay with the nuts-and-bolts of the program. We will answer any questions people have. H-2B 101 will be useful for all employers, but I also expect to get a lot of office staff from the Mobile Amusement companies, including the independent rider operators but also petting zoos, side shows, concessionaires, the whole ball of wax." 

    Judkins conducts similar workshops on H-2B and other guest worker issues ever year, but because of new changes to the program, industry members are clamoring for a workshop that returns to square one. 

    "It is time to go back to basics with H-2B. There are companies who are considering H-2B and companies who have hired staff who need to be trained in the system. H-2B 101 will be perfect them."

    Immediately following H-2B, Judkins and members of the OABA will hold an "H-2B Update & PAC (Political Action Committee) Fundraiser," that focuses on the lobbying efforts by the OABA to ensure the program continues in a direction favorable to the fair industry. 
    Food Safety
    The 2016 IISF Trade Show also features the return of the ServSafe certification seminar, where participants receive their Professional Manager Food Safety Certification, which is through the National Restaurant Association. This workshop and certification class was not offered last year, but returns this year on February 11th (Thursday, 11:00AM-3:30PM). The class will again be conducted by Dominic Cianciola, Director & Training Specialist, Last Call Training and for the first time, the actual certificate will be available online, meaning that there will be a log-in and password code for everyone who completes the course, enabling them to print out a certificate as needed. 

    While this may seem like a minor improvement over the need to always carry a physical certificate with you, the technology advancement underscores the growing necessity of food handlers and concessionaires to be certified in safe food preparation practices. "State inspectors are looking for the certification. More communities and fair boards nationwide are requiring certification," said Cianciola.

    In addition, food safety has become more complex as the nation's eating habits and fair cuisine becomes more diverse. "Food allergy training has become more important to certification, there are more procedures to follow," he said.

    The popularly of vegetarian, vegan and vegan-friendly at fairs has created area of preparation issues," said Cianciola.  "With veggies, there's a high risk of neural viruses contamination. Farmers and others are using reclaimed water, which can be easily contaminated, and bacteria infection is a major issue."

    Many of the new certification requests come from the Food Truck trend. Food Trucks have come popular eating options through the U.S., and many fairs are featuring Food Truck Days or encouraging these Mobile Food Vending Units  to be among the food vendors at the fair. Ensuring that safe food practices are upheld in these cramped ketches is something both the vendor and the fair must be aware of. "Cross contamination of food is a higher risk in  Mobile Food Vending Units," said Cianciola. "There is more stringent enforcement of food trucks as they've become popular at fairs and festivals. There are multiple municipalities involved with outdoor events, and they can have different regulations. The inspectors and planners want to see that certification." 

    Cianciola added there's a "very high demand for this class" at the IISA Trade Show. He said he will be available during most trade show hours of the convention and if there's enough interest, an additional class might be added. 

    2016 IISF Trade Show Coverage

  • Virginia Association of Fairs Convention Gets Connected
    The annual convention of the Virginia Association of Fair Managers showed a forward-looking organization, that despite challenges, is taking fair traditions into the 20th century. 

    The theme of the convention - Get Connected - emphasized social media, networking and cost-effective communication. 

    "This was one of our better received themes, we are always trying to enhance the educational experience of attending the convention for the fairs," said Sam Long, President. Virginia Association of Fair Managers, and Chair Director, Field Day of The Past (the association has 64 members, including county fairs and other outdoor events and festivals). 

    "So many of the fairs are smaller fairs, they do not have the finances and monetary resources, or a full time staff, to work on advertising and promotion. A lot them have yet to fully understand social media."

    Social Media
    One purpose for showcasing the current state of social media at the annual convention is so the top brass can get acquainted with a means of marketing and fair promotions too often regulated by older executives into something done only by the young. 

    Old Dominion fairs seem to understand that change must begin at the top. "A lot of the board members and fair managers say 'I don't understand social media', so their fair don't use it as well as they could," said Long. 

    "But these board members and managers came to the sessions with an open mind. They were able to understand that social media is now the world we are living, it's inescapable. It was one of our better sessions, but we're always to trying enhance the educational experience of coming to the convention."

    But knowledge can be fun. The convention of Virginia fairs has been on a course set by its organizational team to make the event, "as fun, entertaining and informational as our fairs," said Long. "It's an educational conference, but we want to be enjoyable. Fairs are about fun." 

    The outlook of Virginal fairs is positive, with most events having an upbeat year in 2015. "The Virginia fair industry, except for when you get bad weather, has been as strong as it has ever been," said Long. "There were many fairs who told me that 2015 was one their best years they had in their history." 

    An improving regional economy - bolstered by an economic recovery and lower fuel costs - helped create this optimistic attitude, but Long points out that is also the result of a concerted effort by local fairs to get younger. This youth movement is happening both internally and externally. 

    Getting Younger
    "The fairs themselves are readjusting to try and recapture the younger market, both young families and younger adults." Said Long. "Our fair industry has taken a look at where we are versus what we have to offer them. We have become more aware of the younger market, and how to capture that younger market."

    The convention devoting so much time to helping fairs expand their social media presence seems emblematic of the Virginia fair makeover. "We are also seeing younger people at different levels of the fair and attending our conferences," said Long That gives me the best hope of for our future. Our convention attendees are getting younger." 
    Attracting a new generation of fair organizes is not accidental. "One of the stronger points that we have been emphasizing is communication, between the fair managers, our members and the association," he said. "Our round table discussions include the large and small fairs, and we are getting feedback from all the managers. We are finding topics and speakers that people want, and we are maintaining that upward direction."

    Entertainment Changes
    The convention also featured a trade show floor with 45 vendors, and a showcase of music acts of different genres, including pop, country, and gospel as well other types of performers, such as magicians. The musicians were acts with regional popularity, with the potential of some local followers but more importantly, were affordable. 

    Like most fairs in the nation, Virginia fairs are struggling with increased competition, especially from festivals, and the rising costs of entertainment. "Headline entertainment has gotten so expensive, above $200,000 in many cases, that the fairs cannot afford these types of acts," said Long. "It is a balancing act, and many fairs are passing on that entertainment. It used to be you found somebody up and coming, someone young, who gets the new crowd or you resurrect a group, but those acts are harder and harder to find."

    He added, "we are seeing limited options in terms of groups that are affordable. It always has been a balancing act, and it does happen on occasion that you book some rising star who has a hit in April and then will work for less money, but sometimes when they get hot they leave you."
    The trend now among Virginia fairs is to book the less than marquee names showcased at the convention and supplement their entertainment with "the loud and noisy," events said Long. "You are seeing fairs adding more Demolition Derbies, Monster Trucks and Tractor Pulls. They are doing really, really well."

    The balancing act is the cost can be a fraction of what it takes to get a headliner, savings both on the booking and the production costs of top name concerts. "They do require real estate, but you do save money," he said. "They are popular. We are seeing more motor sports and car racing at events too."

    In addition, the lower gasoline prices has only enhanced the affordable appeal of replacing music with machinery in the grandstands. One of the more trendier motor sports are Lawn Mower Pulls. "These are starting catch on, it is really a different sport than the tractor pull and a lot of these lawn mowers have really popular engines," said Long. 

    Fair Funding
    Fair funding, a perennial topic of concern and discussion for convention attendees, was top-of-mind at this year's gathering. Governmental funding has basically dried up in Virginia, "and fairs are in great need of sponsorships. Fairs are looking at new industries for sponsors, or expanding ways they can use sponsors," said Long.

    A new funding hope is now visible on the horizon. A new program was announced by the Virginia Department of Tourism - famous for the iconic "Virginia is For Lovers" campaign- that will provide up to $50,000 in matching funds to support fair advertising. 

    The details are still being worked out, such as how fairs would feature the familiar tourism logo in their advertising as well as how fairs will participate - initial plans say that up to three fairs can participate to together in order to accumulate the necessary amount of funds that the state ill match. "We are still in the planning stages," said Long. "It is very positive, because this is the first state funding of any kind in a long time. But we are still working out all the details."

    What are Virginia fairs looking forward to the most beside good weather in 2016? Actually 2017, more precisely, January of next year - the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Association of Fair Managers. "We are very excited about making that event happen. We are looking for having some sponsors, doing things up right, embracing the past and looking forward to the future." 

    The celebration is expected to be much like the attitude of the annual county fairs that comprise the membership of this century-old organization. "The atmosphere of a county fair is very particular, only you can create that. It is a team effort, and you get one chance a year to represent your county, and that is at the county fair.

    Awards presented at the annual convection included: 2016 Fair Person of the Year- Brenda Rich- Fauquier County Fair, Warrenton and Hazel M. Staley Volunteer Award- Macine Williams- Caroline County Agricultural Fair, Ruther Glen.

    A total of 25 fairs entered the annual Communication Award competition, which is determined by a point system in three by admission categories: 7, 000 gate admission and under division; 7, 000-30,000 gate admission division; and 30,000+gate admission. Winners were: Under 7, 000 division - Patrick County Agricultural Fair; 7, 000-30,000 division - Caroline County Agricultural Fair and 30,000+ Russell County Fair & Horse Show, Lebanon. In addition, Jensen Hoover, Miss Shenandoah County Fair, Woodstock, was named 2016 VAF Queen.

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The Industry Buzz
Michael Sandlofer Passes
Carnivalwarehouse just received word of the passing of Michael Sandlofer after a long battle with cancer. Sandlofer was a pioneering entertainer in the outdoor amusement business, operating a not for profit circus, Frontier Show and numerous animal shows.

Sandlofer was a veteran and proud patriot as well as a devoted animal conservationist. Michael and his wife Sharon have the only travleing wolf exhibit in the United States.

We will post details as we get them but please keep the Sandlofer family in your thoughts and prayers.

  Posted by Ron Weber, Editor on 2/9/2016
OABA releases new ride safety video
The Outdoor Amusement Business Association released a new safety video earlier this month.  The purpose of the video is to help educate the general public about a safe visit to the carnival and carnivals, fairs, and events are urged to share the video on their web sites and social media.  Amber Swedgan, chair of the OABA Safety Education Committee, produced the video in-conjunction with the Ray Cammack Shows Christian Academy this past fall. 

  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/25/2016
New Equipment Purchases for Illinois Shows
Several Illinois based carnivals revealed new equipment purchases during the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs trade show this past weekend.  

Missouri based Tinsley Amusements announced the purchase of a Charlie the Chopper from Majestic; American Banner purchased a Ali Baba from A.RM., Fantasy Amusements purchased a fun house from Owen Trailers, and All Around Amusements purchased a Kolmax Flying Elephant ride and a Wacky Shack from Owen Trailers.

Kolmax, a ride manufacturer based out of the  Czech Republic, will be displaying All Around's new Elephant ride at the upcoming Gibtown Trade Show and Extravaganza.  Jeremy Floyd will also be taking delivery of the same piece, with his debuting at the Florida State Fair booked with Wade Shows.   While not attending the IAAF Trade Show, Illinois based Windy City Amusements and Modern Midways both announced the purchase of Vertigos from ARM with both shows set to take delivery this spring.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/18/2016
Dreamland Amusements to debut new Technical Park Giant Wheel at FL State Fair
Dreamland Amusements is slated to debut its new "Dream Wheel", built by Italian manufacturer Technical Park, at the Florida State Fair with Wade Shows this February.  The Dream Wheel stands 22 meters (72ft) tall and is equipped with a advanced LED light show.  The wheel is the first of its kind to have LED back-lit gondolas which have the ability to be synchronized to music.  The wheel racks on one semi trailer.  The Dream Wheel is the first of two Technical Park 22m Giant Wheels coming to the USA; the second of which belongs to Strates Shows who will be taking delivery this spring.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/15/2016
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.

Schantz Manufacturing has over 60 years of manufacturing award winning custom concession trailers.  Visit our web site at or call 618-654-1523.

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

Need ride wheels?  Advance Caster & Wheel specializes in new & re-tread ride wheels for carnival and amusement rides including Zipper wheels, Ring of Fire/Super Loop wheels, Roller Coaster wheels, and much more.  Call 616-241-4519 for more info.

CLASSIC AMUSEMENTS in Northern California is now hiring!  We pay by the hour!  Call George 650-346-5959 or email

JKJ Workforce - the experts in foreign labor in the mobile amusement industry!  Visit

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