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  • Fair Food Challenge:  Balancing Healthy with Traditional Foods
    What seems inevitable though is that fairs are going to have to find some way of keeping their "vacation from nutrition" foods while also satisfying the mounting demand for alternative options. "Fairs seeks to attract the whole community,"  said Chambers. "Food quality and food safety have grown to be huge conversations, and fairs have responded. Now healthier eating and warnings about high fat and high sugar diets are part of the conversation. Fairs have to deal with government officials and sponsors, so they must be talking about healthier food alternatives too. Everybody is aware of the topic." 

    Healthier fair food - or increasing healthier options - Chambers sees still stuck in the discussion phase and not yet translate into a widespread trend. However, the local-vore and the" farm to fork movements, may not be explicitly about healthier food options, "but the result is also about healthier eating."

    Expanding the fair food image will benefit the entire fair industry. Chambers points out the potential image problem for fairs - most local news outlets when they do their annual fair story, it usually includes the crazy fried foods. "It's really a tiresome story, because it makes fairs look like these zany unhealthy foods are the only thing the fair is about. If healthier foods can change that, so the media can do a different story, that's a good thing." 

    Healthy Mandates
    Two California Bay Area Fairs - Sand Mateo County Fair and Marin County Fair - have done just that - changing the fair food story to one that not just includes, but promotes healthier diets. 

    The San Mateo County Fair has mandated that healthy foods must be offered by all of its vendors. "It's not a trend here, it's a lifestyle," said Matt Cranford, CFE, Fair Manager. "We still have all the traditional and fun fair foods, but we also want to cater those local tastes for a healthier alternative." 

    The San Mateo County Fair implemented a system to promote the healthy food options. With banners, signage and other marketing materials, the fair trumpets the "Health Food Fair" where vendors must submit food items to appropriate government authorities to be declared healthy.

    From the fair's website: " Several of our Food Concessionaires are participating in the Healthy Food Fare at the San Mateo County Fair, a collaborative effort with the San Mateo County Public Health Nutrition. Selected items from their menu are evaluated by the San Mateo County Health Department and will be featured in the food court. This will include menu items that represent a major whole food group (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, or protein), are low-fat or non-fat dairy items, are appropriate portion sizes, are prepared using low-fat cooking methods (grilling and baking), or are using locally grown produce."

    In addition, any concessionaire selling an "entree or dinner" plate must serve at least one item that also passes the local nutrition agency evaluation. 
    This was not just good publicity, but also an effective business strategy. "It does not a big stretch to crate a healthy item," said Cranford. "We have a large population of vegetarians, and the come to the fair once a year and if we didn't offer them food choices, we would lose them."

    Cranford admits that the Bay Area has long been renowned for alternative lifestyles that often emphasized very healthy eating habits, and other parts of the country may not feel as compelled to go to take such extreme approach. On the other hand, working with the local agencies who handle food and nutrition "has been a great partnership, and having a third party decide what is healthy gives the fair more validity. The Healthy Fair Banners are great publicity. The public awareness has been great." 

    The Marin County Fair healthy eating policy is a decade old this year. In 2005 the fair "started working with vendors encouraging them to add healthy foods to existing menus," said Gabriella C. Calicchio, Director, Department of Cultural and Visitor Services, County of Marin. "That first year there were five vendors with healthy foods on their menus. In 2006 there were 13 vendors who included healthy foods and 15 in 2007. In 2009 the Marin County Fair made it a contract requirement that all food vendors include and market healthy choices on their menus."

    According to Calicchio, the main factors motivating this change was the acknowledgement that "unhealthy foods is a major contributing factor to the rise in obesity. If all we offer is deep fried or sugary foods - that's the choice they will make. But adding healthy options allows fairgoers to make choices that reflect their values and behaviors."

    What is unusual about the Marin County Fair policy is that instead of bringing in a vendor that cater to vegans and diet enthusiasts, it mandated all vendors must accommodate a healthy date. "Vendors specializing in healthy foods have made the Marin County Fair their homes with great success," Calicchio explained. "And. we've found families and fairgoers are happier being able to find healthy foods at any vendor they approach."

    In fact, changing the image was main intent of the policy. According to Calicchio, the policy is "shifting the perception of Fair food from junk food to tasty healthy treats," said Calicchio

    The feedback continues to be positive, and also accomplishes a main objective of the fair - encouraging fairgoers to linger. "We learned from families that they felt more comfortable staying at the fair longer, and returning multiple days when they and their children were able to enjoy healthy snacks," said Calicchio. 
    There are signs that governmental agencies seem very encouraging of changing the fried food only image of most fairs. After years of positive feedback with its program, the Marin County received a 2-year, USDA grant to support the healthy fair food program. 

    "The first year - Marin Co. Fair was the only fair to receive funding, in 2014 an additional four fairs received funding to provide messages about healthy eating to low income families," Calicchio said. "In Marin County - funds were used to work closely with food vendors, even hosting a "healthy food showcase" where vendors' healthy foods were entered into a contest, tasted by celebrity judges, and received recognition and cash prizes. Other fair efforts provided a map to fairgoers so they could easily locate the healthy food items being served. There were teams of bilingual health ambassadors roving the fairgrounds interacting with fairgoers with healthy messages. Marin Agriculture Institute, Marin Organic and LIFT (all local community based organizations) had booths at the fair, encouraging healthy local eating."

  • Healthy Fair Food Trend: Seeking New Customers, Fairs Expand Menus -- Part I
    Don't worry, no one is taking away traditional fair foods like corn dogs, funnel cakes or deep friend innovations, but healthy foods are fast gaining traction as part of the selection at fairs throughout the country. While this trend seems to appear every few years, this current manifestation seems more widespread as fairs seek to change their image of just offering unhealthy food.

    Far from existing in a social vacuum, fairs are closely aligned with their communities, and public awareness about the rise in obesity and other health issues related to diet and nutrition is higher than ever before. But part of the fun of a fair is the fried and fattening foods that are part of tradition. Fairs now find themselves having to both offer the fun foods while also catering to healthier palettes. 

    How widespread a trend or quickly the growth pattern is are unclear, and only anecdotal information is available, but the fact is more fairs seem to be including what can be considered healthier menu options at the fair food.

    More Options
    As part of her job, every year Marla J. Calico, CFE, Chief Operating Officer of International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE), visits dozens of fair every year. Fair foods are not known for being healthy - in fact, the entire appeal is that for the day fairgoers ignore their diet - but for someone in the Calico's position, she simply visits too many fairs to always eat the corn dogs, much less burgers between donuts or deep-fried gummy bears. 

    Even when not at a fair, she watches her diet, tries to eat healthy and limit the amount of red meat. Such a goal was near impossible at a fair, however, until last year when she noticed "I was able to find more healthy food options at almost every fair I went to, and they were easier to find. You didn't have to search and search. This is strictly anecdotally speaking, I can't say if this is a trend industry-wide."

    Nonetheless, what once seemed anomalous is now more commonplace, something Calcio chalks up industry ingenuity. "I think more fairs are responding to social trends, and it may be more of a combination of social trends, and of fairs being savvy and seeing a business opportunity that there is a segment of the community to appeal to. They may be looking ways to appeal to new demographics." 

    Business Concerns
    That business opportunity many not only be about customer relations, but sponsor relations. Fairs are expanding their roster of sponsors, and some sponsors may be acutely aware the downside of being known for deep fried everything. "Hospitals and healthcare systems are becoming major sponsors with fairs, and these parties are concerned about promoting a well-balanced diet," she said. "As part of the deal, some fairs may be looking for ways to increase their healthier offerings."
    "More fairs are offering healthier options," said industry veteran Jim Sinclair, Deputy General Manager of the Minnesota State Fair, although he is hesitant to declare it a full-scale trend. But one reason is that the fairs serve a community, and those fairs can be as diverse as populations they serve, which sort of limits the scope of any trend. Fairs may be offering healthier options, but doing so in a variety of ways. 

    According to Sinclair, the Minnesota State Fair generally "stayed away from the "fried food mania, we are not known for bizarre foods." Which is not to say you cannot find deep friend items at the fair, but because of this lack of emphasis, there isn't as much of a push for healthy options to off-set potentially negative publicity.

    Nonetheless, public awareness about diet is an unavoidable issue. The fair recently began offering lists of food vendors who offer Gluten-Free items. "We've had this list about three or four years, and it started because of input from the Celiac Center of Minnesota," said Sinclair. "The numbers of people who want gluten free has grown, and so have the vendors who have this option."

    The Minnesota State Fair gluten policy - which is about public awareness, not the fair mandating vendors sell gluten-free products - indicates how complex the issue of fair food is. Healthier eating is not just about calories and the food pyramid. "We are now looking at addressing people with food allergies, and how we can make fairgoers aware of which vendors address those options," said Sinclair. 

    A fair does not want to turn its entire food concessions into a bland example of nutritional excellence, but as awareness of diet at all levels grows, fairs are complying with social trends. "It's definitely becoming more of a factor," said Sinclair. "We all depend on sponsors and work with municipalities, and there is more pressure to be aware of food allergies, gluten, and of course diet and healthier eating."

    New York Veganism
    This year, the New York State Fair will offer a first, a Vegan Vendor. The fair put out a call for this specialty food - Veganism is considered - or at least used to be considered -- an extreme form of vegetarianism, although now it essentially means no meat or dairy products. A final choice has not been made, but within three weeks of the posting of the solicitation, "we had a solid half dozen proposals," said Troy Waffner, Fair Manager, New York State Fair. "I was hoping for a good response, but I was unsure. I am very satisfied with the response." 

    The candidates were a mix of existing vendors who are looking to branch out as well as new vendors, including a Vegan Restaurant in Syracuse - "they do a great business and were bombarded with requests to become part of the fair," said Waffner.

    An important distinction about the New York State Fair search for a Vegan trailer is not simply offering healthier foods at a fair, it is about targeting a specific demographic heretofore neglected by the fair. "We have food vendors who offer healthy options, like a vegetarian wrap, but they were mixed with other food and there was a demand for a true vegan option," he said. "We are trying to find a Kosher vendor too. This is about appealing to segments of the population, such as vegans or serious vegetarians, who do not come to the fair. These are not the people who come to the fair every year and have a doughnut burger, it's a new audience." 

    Waffner admits that having a significant vegan audience to tap may be not be applicable to fairs nationwide, healthier food options is a trend to watch. "It's a building trend," he said. "Obesity is a real problem, and if fairs are seen as being part off that problem, it might move people away from fairs. If they understand we offer not just deep fried sausage, but cater to vegans and vegetarians as well, "

    In addition, having healthier options Waffner said, gives the fair "more points" not just with health agencies, but agricultural agencies - such as Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM), which also happens to have authority over the fair. "The fair falls around harvest time. New York has great produce and having a Vegan vendor also promotes that." 

    Old Trend/New Trend
    Even though California is home to the San Mateo County Fair and the Marin County Fair, two fairs with the most rigorous healthy food policies, Stephen J. Chambers, Director, Western Fair Association, is skeptical about how widespread a trend it will become and points out that talk about expanding typical fair menus into healthier varieties is nothing new. "Healthier food options have been part of the conversation since I've been in the fair business," he said. 

    Chambers remembers that way back in the Reagan era, fair organizers and food vendors tried jumping on the then new Salad Bar bandwagon, "people came to some fairs with salad trailers, without much success."

    He added that the conversation was more "food diversity, not just more healthy food, but more ethnic food too. Health considerations were not a driving factor." 
    A few years ago, Trampas Porter, Director of Purchasing, Fair Foods Corporation, also noticed a trend where food vendors started selling healthier options. "It failed miserably with customers. Most fairgoers don't come to the fair to eat healthy. 

    He added, "But I am seeing more vendors selling healthier items again, so we'll see."

    His colleague, Audrey Poole, Vice President of Business Development, Fair Foods Corporation, said this current spread of healthier fair foods is evolving differently than past attempts. "There is more health consciousness today and that is pushing this trend," said Poole. "If you are a concessionaire, trying to get into all areas, and offering say salads, to make it more successful, you need a specialty line and probably an individual trailer. You want to be a specialty vendor. It might be more likely that it us the existing vendor at the fair who sees that niche and creates a healthy food stand because he knows the customers." 

    To Be Continued..

  • Collier Fair Grows with New Promotions & Fairground Improvements
    New promotions and a renovated layout and landscaping helped push the Collier County & Fair Exposition to some record days and an event that exceeded the expectations of organizers and stakeholders.  

    Overall attendance for this county fair - 67,000 - makes it one of the largest of the small fairs in the Sunshine State - has been part of a growth pattern that has been ongoing for this fair in recent years.

    Overall Highs
    "We were up by 3,000 and our second Thursday was the largest weekday in our history," said Rhonda Ward, Fair Manager. 

    That record was more than 5,500 attendees. While declining to release exact revenue figures, she added "that our gate was up, so that meant our revenue was up. There was more spending at the fair this year." 

    The fair's attendance figures received a boost by the luck of the calendar - the dates coincided with the spring break period for the region's school systems. Also snowbirds - tourists who flee the wintery north and flock to the warmth of the Sunshine State - seemed more plentiful this year. "We saw more tourists, and we always have a lot of tourists who are our  part of Florida during this time of year," said Ward. 

    The Collier County Fair & Exposition - March 12-22 - concludes on the early days of Spring and except for some rainy days, "we had good weather. It rained before opening on the first Saturday," said Ward.

    She added, "2015 met what we expected in terms of growth." 

    Reithoffer Shows  has provided the midway for Collier County Fair & Exposition for eight years, and saw midway revenue increase again this year, continuing a trend Reithoffer has seen in recent years at this fair.  "The community support for this fair is strong," he said. "Our revenue at the Collier fair has grown for us every year we've been here. They did wonderful promotions this year and fairground improvements which helped business." 

    Community Marketing
    While some innovative new marketing and grounds upgrades helped push this year's fair's projected earnings, the improving Florida economy was also a factor. "We have gradually seen increases, and maybe those maybe those increases are due to the improving economy," said Ward. "I think people have more money to spend."

    Ward declined to reveal the fair's advertising budget, she said the media mix break down, relatively unchanged from last year, was television, 34 percent; radio, 49 percent and print, 17 percent. But advertising alone does not explain this year's fair. "Within the last 10 years, our area has become more populated," said Ward. "So the market is bigger. We've also increased our community outreach, holding more events before the fair. We've given bikes to local schools, held a Take a Soldier Fishing Day, and have given more than $50,000 out in scholarships. Advertising helps, but we have really tried to bond with our community and be involved with the community. When you give back to the community, people come out to support." 

    A promotional event that tied together many segments of the community was held on the day prior to the fair, where 4-H competitors from the fair staged an exhibition and were part of the half-time festivities at a Florida Everblades game, a minor league hockey team who plays in the 7,100+-seat Germain Arena.  "We were sponsors of the game and we had our kids at the intermission," said Ward. "It was the first time for us, and was a new promotion. I think it helped our marketing." 

     An over-arching promotional theme for the Collier County event was "A Salute to Heroes," which had been utilized for single days at previous fairs, but was expanded for 2015 to include an Iwo Jima exhibit  as well as a series of promotional days, including: Community Hero Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, Military Appreciation Day, First Responders Night (Free Admission for EMS, Fire, Police), Super Hero Saturday, where discounted admissions were given to attendee in costume or super hero shirt. "We wanted people to think of every day heroes, and with the Super Hero day, we were able to have fun with the hero idea."

    Other promotions also encouraged midway ridership, including a Spring Break Special (Ride Free from 5pm to 6pm), followed by $15 All Night Armbands; Special $8 Kiddie Ride armbands, a $10 Thursday - admission & midway passes sold for $10, and a 6 PM - 2 AM Midnight Madness on the closing Friday.

    Megapasses saw an increase in pre-fair sales and according to Ward, one of the most successful Facebook promotions featured a picture-posting contest that ran throughout the fair, with winners receiving a mega pass. "I do not know how many we gave out but our Facebook page was over 13,000."

    New Layout
    The Collier County Fair & Exposition changed its grounds layout this year, adding a new entrance, parking lots and a more elaborate - and bigger - systems of paved paths and asphalt walkways.  "We expanded our walkways layout, adding new loops around the barns and other areas," she said. "We created a new entertainment area and two new mall areas. This spread out our shows, and gave more space for the audiences, performers and vendors. We also added more bleachers to our performance areas."

    The new design made the entire fair a more pedestrian friendly, open-air environment, giving the food and vendor areas the feel of fun and energetic bazaar. "We felt that the vendors may be missing out, but with the new walk ways and layout, the vendors are more connected to the entertainment areas and midway"

    The result was a more cohesive fair environment and smooth, more inviting  transitions between the various sections. "By spreading out and adding walkways, people had more of an opportunity to see more of the fair, stay longer and purchases food, goods and other things"
    The Collier County Fair featured  48 food vendors. According to Ward, the fair does not track sales of individual food items.  he said that "the vendors had a great fair, and many of them said it was their best fair. Saturday was so packed that they were running out product. People were doing crazy business. They sold out." 

    She added that people "come out for the fair food. It's one of the things they look forward to every year."

    The traditional fair cuisine - Elephant Ears, Cotton Candy and Corn Dogs - were staple sellers, but a new item that caught the public's appetite was a "deep fried chocolate cheese cake." 

    Midway Presentation
    Creating a more enjoyable outdoor experience that induced people to linger and enjoy themselves benefited the midway with something more intangible than merely better access. "They made significant improvements to the fairgrounds," said Reithoffer. "Brand new paving and parking lots, a lot of beautification, this year. When people see a prettier looking fair rounds, it makes our midway look prettier, and increases business."

    The aesthetic enhancements "gives the impression of improvement, and makes a stronger, better package for the midway and the entire fair," he added.
    The Reithoffer Midway at the Collier County Fair featured 41 rides, with the new rides being Air Race, its Kiddie version, the Sky Race, a Magic Maze, Circus Train and Himalaya. 

    Smarter marketing and promotions, and fairgoer friendly fairground upgrades - plus a better economy and cooperative weather - has made this county fair a prized stop on the Reithoffer Florida route. But this market is also on the upswing, along with it the fair has deliberately intertwined itself into this growing community.  "Collier County has some of the most expensive homes, but also areas where they have a solid working class neighborhoods," said Reithoffer. "The area is growing every year, and the people want to come out. They love family entertainment." 

    The Collier County Fair is part of the Florida route that always occupies the early part of his season, and has proven to be an event with a steady upswing in revenue. "The fair has shown nice growth, it has expanded with the growth of the population of the area." 

    What does the growth he experienced there indicate for the 2015 fair season? "I'm the eternal optimist. Fuel prices are lower, the economy is a little better. We expanded our promotions and our packages and we had positive results."  

    Best Demolition Derby
    Reithoffer also pointed another unique feature of the Collier County Fair & Exposition. It holds the best Demolition Derby on his fair route and 2015 was no exception. "I think it's the most popular demolition I have seen," he said. "I've never seen one draw the crowds that this one does."

    Called the Demolition Derby & Team Races and held on a Saturday "has a very devoted following," said Ward. "It is something we've known for, and people here love the derby."  

  • Overcoming Challenges, Rocky Mountain Fairs Upbeat
    Some fairs may be doing better than others, but overall the 105 fairs and festivals represented by the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs feel that the 2014 season was strong and are upbeat about the upcoming fair season. 

    "Our fairs had a fairly decent year in 2014," said Jim Abendschan, the new President of the association as well as President of the Jefferson County Fair in Golden, Colorado. "Our members are very passionate about the fair industry and the agriculture industry."

    The Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs is an intrastate fair organization whose members are smaller, county and local fairs. Members come from Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. 

    "Overall, most of our fairs had a very good year for attendance that was equal or better than the year before," said Michael Mezmer, Board Member and 2015 Service Member Representative for the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs. He is a fair performer of TranceNosis, an act combining hypnosis and magic. "When you come off a good year, you are always looking forward to the next season with more enthusiasm."

    He added that while the economy has shown signs of improvement in the states covered by the association membership. "The value of what you get at the fair is what sells these fairs," he said.

    The annual convention of the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs was held November 12-15, 2014, Heritage Inn in Great Falls, Montana, attended by 488 members. The event featured an entertainment showcase and educational workshop. The organization eschews a trade show in a traditional format, instead the organization's service members are assigned hotel rooms and during exhibition hours, fair managers and other attendees visit with prospective vendors by going from room to room.

    Business conducted at the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs Annual Convention seemed more brisk than in recent editions of the convention, which may have been evidence of an improving economy. But as Mezmer pointed out, this convention is renowned for a higher level of  floor transactions than other industry events. "It is not the same as other industry conventions and trade shows," said Mezmer. "When people come here, they are ready to make a deal. With other conventions, there is more follow up and back and forth. People aren't ready to commit to an act or vendor. Here they are."

    Mezmer estimated that 80 percent of the attendees come "ready" to do business. This proactive attitude he attributes to the unique structure of the smaller fairs. "These fairs have smaller boards and fewer employees, they rely a lot on volunteers," he said. "They can make a decision at the convention, and they know what they want."

    In addition, he pointed out that the Rocky Mountain Fair Association - which turns 90 next year - has established a reputation. "Fairs trust the vendors because the service members are all prequalified, they sign a pretty extensive Code of Ethics, and they have to show proof of insurance. By having all those qualifications, they take out a lot of the work fairs would other wise have to do. There is not the same hesitation to sign an act or vendor."

    In addition to Abendschan over the President's chair, other officers installed at the convention included: Brandon Bird, 1st Vice President, Eastern Idaho State Fair, Blackfoot, Idaho and Dane Dugan, 2nd Vice President, North Idaho Fair, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. 

    James Goodrich, Fair Manager of the Wyoming State Fair and Bob Albin of the Richland County Fair received Fair Person of the Year and John Hanschen of Thomas Carnival received the Service Member of the Year Award. Bobby Baker of Bobby Baker Enterprises and Heritage Marion Waters of the Phillips County Fair were inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Rocky Mountain Associations of Fairs.

    A leading issue among convention attendees has been the rising cost of insurance. "With some insurance situations, it is getting difficult to stage entertainment, and the insurance s costs to cover that liability can become cost prohibitive for the smaller fairs," said Mezmer. "Fairs are exploring less insurance-heavy entertainment options. They are reconsidering how they structure their entertainment."

    Insurance concerns are only one factor as these western fairs begin booking their stages in what seems destined to be another seller's market. "Entertainment costs are skyrocketing," said Abendschan. "Entertainers and fairs are trying to work together and negotiate in good faith and trying to accommodate fairs in their routing, but it is getting more costly for fairs each year and some fairs are exploring other options." 

    What fairs were looking for the most was providing entertainment appealing to a younger demographic. "A big thing is how to keep the youth involved and get more young people involved in the fair," said Mezmer. "Fairs are looking at ways to be cool, and to get the new, younger generation engaged, and finding the proper entertainment for those customers."

     He added that fairs are looking to find that "sweet spot, they want entertainment and content that is edgy but still in that family style, It is not easy."

    The youth problem the Rocky Mountains are confronting is multifaceted, going beyond programming and content. "The smaller towns for fairs are losing population," said Abendschan. "It is getting harder and harder for some fairs to find young people with a passion for agriculture." 

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HEADLINES from the web
Poor Jack Amusements
Poor Jack Amusements
4/21/2015 - 10/10/2015
Wade Shows
Livonia AM Rotary Carnival
Livonia, MI
4/30/2015 - 5/10/2015
Amusements of America
Charlotte Spring Fair
Charlotte, NC
5/1/2015 - 5/10/2015
Wade Shows
Decatur, GA
5/1/2015 - 5/10/2015
Houghton Carnival
Upper Makefield Fire Co. Carnival
Washington Crossing, PA
5/5/2015 - 5/9/2015
Oscars Amusements
St. Joseph Parish Festival
Collingdale, PA
5/5/2015 - 5/9/2015

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

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

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

2014 TOP 50 FAIRS
1. Texas State Fair - Dallas, TX
2. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
3. Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
4. San Antonio Livestock Show & Ex. - San Antonio, TX
5. Eastern State Exposition

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The Industry Buzz
Ed Burlingame Passes
It is with deep regret to announce that Pride Amusements owner, Ed Burlingame passed away on April 29.  Visitation will be held from 1-5pm on Friday & Saturday with a the funeral scheduled for Sunday at 2pm at Parks Brothers Funeral Home in Prague, Oklahoma.

Parks Brothers Funeral Home
1405 E Main St
Prague, Oklahoma

  Posted by Matt Cook on 4/30/2015
Skerbeck Family Carnival adds new equipment for 2015

Bill Skerbeck's Skerbeck Family Carnival announced the purchase of several new pieces for the 2015 season.  The show purchased a Zamperla Air Raid from Jeff Brady and also a new Motorcycle Jump from Dalton Kid Rides.  The Air Raid is set to debut this spring while the Motorcycle Jump is scheduled for summer delivery.

The show also purchased all new canvas for its games and has changed their color scheme from pink, white and teal to blue and green.  In addition to the new canvas, the show has begun converting equipment over to LED lighting including a new LED package from Denny's Electronics for their Century Wheel.  The Gravitron and Ring of Fire are also being retrofitted with LED lights.

In December, Skerbeck Brothers Shows announced a succession plan, separating the carnival into two entities - Skerbeck Family Carnival, owned by Bill Skerbeck and his family and Skerbeck Entertainment Group, owned by Joe Skerbeck and his family.  
  Posted by Matt Cook on 4/22/2015
John Streeter Passes (updated)
It is with sadness to announce the passing of John Streeter.  John spent a number of years teaching speech at the University of Indiana and Wayne State University while also working as a scenic designer in several professional productions. In the summer, John worked in the outdoor amusement business. 

In 1966, John purchased a Sky Diver from Chance Rides.  In 1968, John went to work for Mack Duce and sold rides for Chance and SDC.  This relationship lasted for over 15 years before John went to work exclusively for Chance in 1983.  By 1985, John was promoted to president of the company and helped promote sales worldwide.  He was influential in the development of the Thunderbolt, Wipeout, Giant Wheel, Century Wheel, and Pharaoh's Fury through the 1990's.  John was responsible for the growth of Chance Rides in the US Carnival market as well as the overseas markets in Asia until his retirement in 1998.

"We are all grateful to John for is efforts and dedication to Chance over the years and will all miss him", said Dick Chance of John Streeter.

He is honored on the Showmen's League of America's Wall of Honor and donations can be made to the Showmen's League of America Scholarship fund in his name. 

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Marion; his daughter, Linda; and grandson, Jeffry.

Services will be conducted at a later date in National Cemetery in Sarasota.

John Streeter (left)

  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 4/20/2015
Concessionaire Bob Mason passes
Long time concessionaire and MCW visitor, Bob Mason ("Six Cat") has passed away.  Bob was a concessionaire based out of New England and spent time on several east coast shows including Reithoffer Shows.  For more information, click here.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 4/10/2015
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.

WINDY CITY AMUSEMENTS - Ride Help, Electrician, Mechanic wanted for 2015 season!


Reithoffer Shows is now hiring a show electrician, giant wheel foreman, and interviewing ride foremen for other rides.  Please call 863-581-5334 or visit

Custom printed digital canvas from Waterloo Tent & Tarp!

Browns Amusements is now hiring ride help, game help, food help, electrician, and CDL drivers for the 2015 season.  Call Danny at (602) 763-1617 for more info or visit

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