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  • Wood Entertainment discusses Minnesota & Texas State Fairs
    Wood Entertainment fell short at this year's Minnesota State Fair compared with previous runs in St. Paul. Independent operator and company owner Michael Wood feels the addition of some new pieces in Minnesota ate into his ride receipts. 

    He's not disappointed by any means. The event, which this year drew about 45,000 fewer fairgoers than last year's record attendance of 1.82 million, remains a marquee spot for all ride owners doing business at the fair, Wood Entertainment included. Wood had its Magic Maze Glass House, Techno Power and Magnum set up on the primary midway. Its Safari Train and Daytona were part of Kidway.

    The Techno Power and Magnum were both 5 percent down in ride grosses compared with 2014, according to Wood. The Magic Maze was down by 1 percent, he said. 

    Wood, a veteran of multiple Minnesota state fairs, pointed to three new attractions he believes affected his bottom line: Myers International Midway's New York New York fun house, plus Kyle Wisdom's Equinox and Playworld Amusements Super Nova roller coaster. The fair added a second coaster this year behind Steve Vander Vorste's Crazy Mouse, a longstanding tradition in St. Paul. The fun house and the coaster were his closest competitors for business, Wood said. 

    "There is only so much money to go around," he said. "Something had to come down. The fair had been running with just one coaster for several years before they put the second one in there. It's just the way it is. My stuff has been around for awhile."

    Presently, Wood Entertainment, whose headquarters are in San Antonio, has the same attractions set up at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. The fair began Friday Sept. 25 and continues through Oct. 18. 

    "The economy is good in Texas [despite oil prices dropping below $50 a barrel] and people are spending money," he said. 

    Wood feels the Texas fair is spending more money on advertising the event, especially on television. Based on his experience, it's never been a big priority for state fair officials, but this year, he's seen more commercials airing before the event than he can remember in a long time. 

    "They're getting the word out, and the Texas-OU football game ... is always a wake up call," he said. "It's like the switch turns on." 

    The Oct. 10 game at Cotton Bowl Stadium remains a centerpiece of the state fair. This year, as fans gorge on corn dogs and new bacon-infused specialties served by stadium concessionaire Ed Campbell, the struggles tied to the Texas football team and the athletic department in general provide an interesting backdrop to the Red River Showdown. 

    The school fired Athletic Director Steve Patterson earlier this month and finds itself with empty seats for home football games in Austin at a stadium with more than 100,000 seats. 

    Regardless, Wood feels the Cotton Bowl,which seats 92,100, will be filled for one of college football's fiercest rivalries. The game typically draws a 50-50 crowd split down the middle, for which the dividing line can be seen by the burnt orange and crimson red shirts worn by fans cheering for each school. If ticket sales struggle in Austin, "they'll get rid of them in Norman," Wood said, referring to the city where the University of Oklahoma is situated.

    Texas-OU Day traditionally results in the fair's biggest day for food and beverage sales but it doesn't mean big business for the carnival midway, Wood said. Instead, Columbus Day, which this year falls on Oct. 12, a holiday that brings lots of kids to the state fair, is a bigger day for ride sales, he said.

    For Wood Entertainment, the same attractions produce different results in Texas compared with Minnesota. In Dallas, the Techno Power and Magnum are his two biggest grossing pieces, but are much closer in sales than in St. Paul. And in Texas, the Daytona does better than the Safari Train. The Magnum's best fair overall is the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar. No two areas of the country are alike with regard to what's popular among patrons.

    "The [Huss] Pirate Ship, for example, can't win you a quarter in St. Paul, but it's always in the top 10 in Dallas," Wood said. "In some places, the swinging boat kicks butt."

    After the State Fair of Texas, Wood heads to the Coastal Carolina Fair in Ladson, S.C., a city about 25 miles northwest of Charleston. The fair's Dates are Oct. 29 to Nov. 8. He's been booking equipment there with Amusements of America, the carnival holding the midway contract, off and on for the past 10 years. For that spot, Wood is paid a rental fee for supplying rides.

    Over the years, Wood has learned a valuable lesson working with major carnivals. Last year, the Vivona family, owners of Amusements of America, told Wood they didn't need any of his rides for the Coastal Carolina Fair. But this year, they requested he bring some equipment. "If you go when they need you, you're treated fairly," Wood said. "If you push your way in, it doesn't always go well."

    Wood finishes the season at Santa's Enchanted Forest in Miami, where he meets up with a few carnivals at the independent setup, including Michael's Amusements, Wade Shows, Dreamland Amusements and Rockwell Amusements. This year's dates are Oct. 29 through Jan. 3, 2016. The Techno Power, Daytona and Magnum will all be set for the seven-week run in south Florida.

  • Alabama Leads West Virginia's Effective Marketing Strategy
    March used to be when the State Fair of West Virginia launched its annual marketing campaign for its August fair, which is said to date to 1854, making the fair older than the state itself -which was formed at the outbreak of the Civil War (the first official State Fair of West Virginia fair was held in 1869).

    But one first for the 2015 edition of the State Fair of West Virginia actually started in 2014. The fair unleashed the promotion for this August event in December, a strategy that paid off, countering the calendar quirk of a late Labor Day, which prompted schools to start earlier in August, negatively impacting the fair.

    Alabama Sells Out
    Increased competition and skyrocketing artist fees have made the entertainment buying environment a severe seller's market. When an act like Alabama is available, the earlier the better is an optimum strategy. "We usually announce the shows in March, but Alabama is such a popular band, we started with a Christmas promotion for tickets, and we had several people who came because we marketed it as a Christmas present," said Kelly Collins, CEO of the State Fair of West Virginia. "The track seating sold out in 20 minutes."

    Alabama opened the fair on August 14, with a sold out grandstand performance, "and they were great too," said Collins Not only did the band fulfill expectations, starting the marketing of the fair three months earlier than usual - a full business quarter - reaped other rewards. "To have that income from ticket sales three months earlier than usual was very helpful to this year's fair. We were better able to market the other shows, which we basically did in March like we usually do." 

    Older Demographic
    The Southern Rock stalwarts also compensated for a diminished younger audience. "Colleges and high schools are starting earlier every summer and with Labor Day coming so late, all those students went back to school before the fair started."

    Instead, the Alabama booking by the fair maximized its targeting of an older audience unencumbered by the school year calendar . "We knew that schools were starting, so we shifted our demographic marketing towards an older crowd," she said. 

    The shift worked, "2015 was a great year for the State Fair of WV," said Collins. " We started with a sold out grandstand show with Alabama on Friday, August 14 and followed up with one of the best days in Fair history."

    Other paid admission entertainment - which Collins said did well but not quite the same level of Alabama - included: Third Day, Easton Corbin with Special Guest A Thousand Horses, 3 Doors Down, The Roots and Boots Tour featuring Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Joe Diffie and the Buckin' B Bull Ride with Special Guest Craig Wayne Boyd.

    She added, "We also increased the talent on the Telos Free Stage, with Jimmy Fortune, Pam Tillis and country new-comer Clare Dunn."

    Economy & Weather
    Alabama led the way for a successful State of West Virginia fair, which recorded an attendance of 160,000, which Collins said was "slightly above last year," and was accompanied by a merciful Mother Nature, "We couldn't have asked for better weather for the 2015 State Fair," she said. "It was sunny and beautiful all week, with just a few scattered showers. "

    In addition, signs of an economic recovery helped the fair. "West Virginia is known for its coal industry, and when that industry suffers, so does the entire state," sad Collins. "We see that trend at the State Fair. We see it in our finance and we hear about it from our fairgoers. However, we have changed some of our marketing to highlight the fair as a staycation. A lot of people can't afford a full vacation, so they are looking to alternatives and the fair can be the perfect day trip. This year, we did see a bump in spending across the board, which is hopefully a sign the economy is bouncing back."

    Given the positive factors of good weather and improving factors, Alabama acted as a catalyst leading to a upbeat fair. Unfortunately, Alabama may have been an anomaly in what remains a severe sellers market in the headline entertainment segment of the industry and Collins is not confident the fair can catch this lightening in a bottle again. "Luckily, we had a great year for entertainment, but I don't believe things will get easier for us," said Collins. "Talent buying is becoming more and more difficult for the fair industry."

    The challenge is that costs are rising faster than budgets, and finding that optimum artist who can sell tickets to the fair going demographic remains a challenge. "Artists are getting more expensive, production is getting more expensive. You look at artists you can afford and they don't have the star power you need." 

    Whether the StateFair of West Virginia can find an artist worthy of a December kick-off for the 2016 fair seemed unlikely, she added. 

    Reithoffer Midway
    Nonetheless, the fair could not ask for a better start for its 2015 edition. 

    "The first Saturday of the Fair was a record day with over 31,000 people in attendance," she said. "That led to the Carnival's best day ever here at the State Fair of West Virginia. The second Saturday, was also a huge day for us and ended up being the carnival's second-best day ever here.

    Reithoffer Shows provided the fair's midway featuring 50 rides, with the leading ride being the Dutch Wheel. "They had the same line up as last year," said Collins. "They do a great job."

    Midway spending was on par or up slightly from last year, said Collins. The impediment to a more robust showing for the midway was the  older skew of the general fairgoers. "We did see a significant shift in our weekend vs weekday crowds. Because this was the first year schools in the State and surrounding areas were in session either before or during the fair. Despite that change, we still had a great week. "

    She added, "the older crowd doesn't go on the rides like the younger customer, so if anyone was hurt it was Reithoffer."

    Classic Donuts
    What made ride revenue suffer seems to have had the reverse effect on fair cuisine. Food spending was up by 17 percent, a record increase for the fair. "The ride spending was not up as much as the food and beverage numbers."

    The fair featured 75 food vendors - which includes the midway vendors - and Collins speculated that several factors were behind this push. "The economy is seeing a rebound, so people were more comfortable spending money and our weather was good, so people stayed longer at the fair and when they stay, they eat and drink."

    Prior fairs had some unseasonably cool weather for August, but this year the summer heat lingered into the night and the optimum temperatures had positive effects in several F&B segments. "We saw an increase in drink sales," said Collins, Alcohol is only served in the grandstand area, and it was only the second year. "We sold more beer this year than last year, but that was mainly because the shows were well attended."

    But with temperatures in the 80s well into the evening, "water and drink sales went up and the ice cream stands did record business. All of them had long lines," said Collins.

    The new foods gaining notoriety this year were grilled bacon on a stick with a maple glaze and lobster fries, said Collins, adding that the Cinn-Sational Cinnamon Rolls was probably the number one seller at the fair. But the signature West Virginia State Fair are Ben-Ellen donuts, made fresh at their stand and a fair staple for more than 60 years. "They are one of the longest standing vendors at the fair, and everyone lines up to get them. They always have the longest lines." 

    First Fair
    Collins is a native West Virginian, having participated in 4-H programs growing up and was in the livestock competition department of the fair for more than five years before being promoted to CEO after last year's fair. 

    Much of the upcoming marketing plans were set by the time she took over the position. "Our media mix was pretty much the same as 2014. I started as CEO at a time when most of our big decisions were already made and the marketing plan was in place," she said.

    However, she did oversee a shift to more online marketing. "We do a lot of television placement, but as with print, we have to be on the websites , which drives people to our websites. We can promote contests on the website."

    But as CEO, this young fair professional has been actively revving up the social media presence of the fair. "We have seen an enormous growth in our social media accounts over the last year, not only in number of fans, but also in participation," she said. " More and more fans are communicating directly with us over social media, letting us know what they do and don't like. We can now use social media as a marketing tool, but also a communication tool."

    She pointed out that the Facebook followers have soared to 60,000 - from only 20,000 in 2013. "We started being more active on social media throughout the year. We have a small staff, but the fairgoers are more active and involved with us because of social media. We run contests, but we also answer a lot of questions."

    She added, ", this year we pushed the hashtag "#sfwv2015" heavily and added Instagram stops around the Fair. We saw an immediate great return, with over 700 fan photos tagged just on Instagram."

    The State Fair of West Virginal may actually predate West Virginia, but for the inaugural CEO year for Collins, she admits that "2015 was a great first year for me personally as the new CEO. I had a great support staff during my first fair. We could not have asked for better weather and logistically it was a breeze."

    As planning for 2016 commences, one issue is how to reconcile the earlier start of school so the younger fairgoer population can be increased. 

    "We did learn a lot with schools in the state starting during the fair on how our schedule and programming may have to change in the future," she said. "However, we are looking at it as an opportunity, not a challenge."

  • Iowa State Fair: Presidential Contenders, Social Media & Record Attendance
    How do you know the U.S. will be electing a president next year?

    This year, the Iowa State Fair was once again the most famous state fair of the summer.

    It's a quadrennial tradition. Iowa of course is the first state to hold a primary - technically, it's a "caucus" - in February, so the preceding August politicians seeking national office descend on the Iowa State Fair to meet the early-bird voters, find photo-ops and make news. 

    Record Attendance
    Attendance reached 1,117,398 in 2015, up from 1,015,902 in 2014, and a record turnout. While the fair failed to break the single day record (116,774, set in 2008), "we broke the overall attendance record set in 2008 by 8,248," said Gary Slater, CEO of the Iowa State Fair, 

    An improving economy, a more aggressive social media campaign and an effective grandstand concert line-up  Slater claims as the key factors boosting attendance, as was mainly conducive weather.  "The weather was unseasonably cool for most Augusts in Iowa, making it very comfortable for attendees, said Slater. He also said there were two heavy rainfalls during 11-day fair - "for a total of almost five inches" - but mostly the came "all at once, it wasn't stretched out," though the impact included the "loss of the Meaghan Trainor" concert.

    Nonetheless, there's no denying that the contest to see who will be the next Commander-and-Chief is major factor of this year's fair. "It is more work for the staff but we take it in stride," he said. "Hillary had Secret Service with her too. It brings more attention to the fair, but that doesn't always translate into higher attendance."

    Social Media Connection
    In addition to Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump came and made campaign stops, as candidates do every four years, bringing extra attention to the fair.  But with the rise of social media and fair organizers and staff increasing adeptness and optimizing online networking, there was an actual marketing pay-off this election cycle. "Our marketing department now has a person directly dealing with social media, where five years ago it was just part of somebody's duties, now it's a single person," said Slater. "We use it for awareness and when you get a boost like the presidential candidates, you can use it to get more attention for fair. We get this notoriety every four years,  but this year we were able to bring some of that attention to the fair."

    Slater pointed out that 2008 was a record year, with no slate of would be caucus candidates and their retinue of supporters and media in tow. The non-partisan Iowa State Fair makes the most of the marketing opportunity the state's position in the national election cycle enables. The first Saturday of the Iowa State Fair, a heavy candidate visitation day,  the Iowa State Fair was trending on social media. "We were number one on Twitter, all sorts of Social Media, and Yahoo news, among other places. With social media, it ties back to you so the candidates were in the news, but we linked to the news."

    The fair capitalized on this increased exposure by expanding its social media presence. "We bumped up the frequency and photos and incorporated regular posts such as Throwback Thursday about past fairs," he said. "We also used promoted posts and tweets for a few concert giveaways. We also had Instagram Corporate and Snap Chat Corporate live on our grounds during the Fair."

    He added, "people are really engaged on social media and use social media to ask questions, comment or find information. We like the two-way communications through social media and we think Fairgoers like that we take the time to respond to their comments. Specifically, we had great success communicating any changes we had to daily schedules or programming throughout the Fair on social media."

    Farm Tour Marketing
    The fair's advertising budget was a little over $500,000, about a 3 percent increase compared to 2014. The media mix included TV- 30 percent, Radio - 30 percent, Print 23 percent and Outdoor/Out of Home/Transit-17 percent. There was only an allocation shift between mediums of about  2-3 percent compared to 2014.
    The marketing theme this year was Fair Tour, "and we encouraged people to find a new path at the State Fair," He said "The theme incorporated mascot animals that served as tour guides in all our radio/television and print promotions this year." 

    The Iowa state legislature also aided fair attendance. The summer of 2015 had one of the latest labor days possible on the calendar (in 1887, President Grover Cleveland mandated that Labor Day be celebrated the first Monday in September). However, children also have to be in school a specific number of days per year and to gain a week the Calendar otherwise might erase, some school systems started school in August, which negatively impacted fair attendance in some states. The Iowa State legislature passed a bill mandating that the start of school and the annual celebration of everything Hawkeye State not overlap. 

    "The law set our school start date to coincide with the Monday after the end of the fair," said Slater. "For the past four or five years, school was starting half-way into the fair, and this year it would been for the entire fair. This is very significant, not just for the kids, but for the teachers and the parents to come out to the fair. It was very significant for our 4-H programs, because those families are here throughout the fair. The law had a huge impact on our attendance."

    In addition to the legislative bolstering of younger fairgoers, the Iowa economy has also been improving, which Slater emphasized had a noticeably upbeat effect on family budgets. "Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates this year than it has had in the last 10 years," said Slater. "That makes a big difference. People aren't looking for luxury, they view the fair as affordable fun, but when more people are working, the people who have jobs are more likely to spend. There's more consumer confidence." 

    Triangle Talent
    Perhaps the most instrumental aspect contributing to the success of the 2015 Iowa State Fair was optimum talent buying. According to Slater, this year the fair hit the sweet spot with entertainment, with four sell-outs in the grandstand: Def Leopard. Tesla & Styx; Reba McIntyre; Carey Underwood and Alabama. "It was one of our best concert years," said Slater, adding that he could not remember four concerts in the summer series with such high attendance. 

    Talent buying is "hard every year, and it is very hard to book great names, names that people are going to come out to see," he added. 

    "There are more festivals, more competition. The county fairs too now have grandstands, and they have professional capabilities and are getting acts of a very high caliber. We are competing with more festivals and fairs and casinos every year, but the stars aligned for us this year."

    Slater allowed that some efforts by the fair were a little less cosmic in scope. "We were able to develop a good line up with Triangle Talent, and we strategized together,  looking at who is touring, and we routed with the Kentucky State Fair, Wisconsin State Fair and the Missouri State Fair, all of that helps us."

    Fair Cuisine
    The fair had about 200 food vendors, and Slater said "the vast majority of sales of food and drink were up this year. People were spending. While the final numbers for food and drink were not available at press time, "the vast majority of food sales were up," he said, based on anecdotal evidence, with "some saying they were up 100 percent compared to last year."

    Slater credited the fair-conducive temperatures. "We had more moderate temperatures this year, so people were more comfortable staying at the fair and eating and drinking and that probably helped the per caps." 

    The Iowa State Fair is known for its fair cuisine offerings. The state's leading newspaper, the Des Moines Register - in addition to listing a "full list of 75 foods on a stick" at this year's event, -- picked the top 15 new foods at the fair, which included: Apple Pie On-a-Stick;  Bruschetta; Cattleman's Steak Wrap;  Chocolate Dipped Strawberries On-a-Stick; Corn in a Cup; Deep Fried Cherry Pie; Deep Fried Nacho Balls; Donut Sundae; Golden Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly On-a-Stick; Gluten-Free Corndog; Kernel Kluster; Pumpkin Spice Funnel Cake; Toasted Coconut Caramel Cluster;  and the Ultimate Bacon Brisket Bomb

    "My favorite was the Apple Pie On-a-Stick, which was deep fried of course, but I think the most popular new food was the Ultimate Bacon Brisket Bomb," said Slater. "The Ultimate Bacon Brisket Bomb was our people's choice award winner for 2015. People love things with bacon. It was an interesting recipe on a stick at a great price."

    Noting that the fair had its first gluten-free corndog, Slater added, "we are known for our wide variety of corn dogs. People come out to the fair to enjoy something new and different, they want new twists on traditional fair foods. The fair is known for its fair foods and a lot of the industry look at us for new trends." 

    The lists of top new foods in state-wide media is an example of how has been building on its reputation as the epicenter of national fair cuisine trends. This year, the fair introduced a foodie app, which aided fairgoers in "locating any type of food they wanted, allowing then to cross check with all our vendors," said Slater. "Users could enter parameters like where to find new food items. We also had a promotion where fairgoers could find $3 food items." 

    Belle City Midway
    The Belle City Amusements midway featured 41 rides, with the Giant Wheel, the Rock & Roll and Moonraker being the most popular, "if the weather was better, we would have better per caps, but we did well. They have a great tradition at the Iowa State Fair, and have top family entertainment."

    "We had a good run in Iowa, there were a couple of days of rain but they had a record attendance and so did our midway," said Charles Panacek  of Belle City Amusements,. "We saw a slight increase in our advanced sales."

    Did the appearances by celebrity candidates have any impact on the Belle City Amusements midway? "Jeb Bush played a pitch game on the  midway," said Panacek. "It doesn't really affect us, but it increases attention to the fair, so that is good,  but it doesn't make a huge difference for the midway. "

  • NAME Acquisition Begins New Chapter for Fair Industry
    North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) has been acquired by Townsquare Media, Inc. for a reported price of $ 75.5 million. The acquisition of one of the fair industry's largest carnival companies by a growing digital marketing and media company, not only brings a multitude of resources to the midway provider, but may begin a new marketing chapter for outdoor events.

    "We are excited to partner with NAME's management team and add NAME's market leading mobile amusement parks to our Live Events portfolio," said Steven Price, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Townsquare. "Nearly half of NAME's current events are within 100 miles of a Townsquare market and fit squarely within our core stated strategy of providing affordable, family-friendly entertainment content."

    "Our management team is delighted to join forces with Townsquare, and we look forward to continuing to provide best-in-class service and products to our customers for years to come," said Jeff Blomsness, Co-Chief Executive Officer, NAME.

    Townsquare Media is an integrated and diversified media and entertainment and digital marketing services company, owning 100 radio stations, over 325 search engine and mobile-optimized local websites and approximately 500 live events in 66 small and mid-sized U.S. markets. "The radio stations have their own companion websites and we also own 16 national music and entertainment websites," said Claire Yenicay, Executive Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications.

    Townsquare's 500 live events can be segmented into main categories: music festivals (including the largest collection of country music and camping festivals in North America), participatory athletic events, lifestyle events and B2B/B2C expos.  The company's event portfolio includes WE Fest, the largest country music and camping festival in the world; the Insane Inflatable 5K, one of the fastest growing obstacle race series in North America; and America on Tap, the only nationwide craft and premium beer festival series in the United States. "We have a lot of events that could benefit from a midway so we are definitely looking at that possibility," she said.

    .In the recent years, Midway providers have increased their direct marketing to consumers, both to supplement the fair's promotional efforts - and boosting midway revenue - and to foster their own small but growing dead-head like following of devoted ride enthusiasts who go to multiple events featuring a carnival company's midway.  The acquisition now exponentially expands NAME's digital footprint - no other carnival company can draw on comparable marketing resources - with the potential of making this NAME the most recognizable midway brand in the U.S.
    "NAME fits very well with our company," said Yenicay. "We can now be a megaphone for their events and drive attendance to their events. Most of our events are music related, family-friendly and affordable entertainment. NAME brings synergies to us and can provide midways at many of those events."

    By the same token, Townsquare Media's involvement with festivals includes a cutting edge expertise in digital marketing services, talent buying, and electronic ticketing. The new duo can offer a more comprehensive package of services to fairs. "There are a lot of areas that we can become more useful to the fair, from ticketing to talent buying," said Yenicay. "When you buy talent in more than one location, you can help structure better deals when it comes to routing."

    "Our goal with North America was to always grow the company," explained Danny Huston, Co-Chief Executive Officer of NAME. Huston said the company was not up for sale before Townsquare made them an offer. "They were seeking us. Townsquare Media came to NAME. They looked at our company and saw how much we crossover. We successfully passed their grade."

    This midway veteran admits the move is a game-changer for NAME.  "It is really the biggest thing we have ever done and brings us up to the next level," said Huston. "It will allow us to do so much more. They are going to be a humongous help to our fairs with their sites and search engines. They are going to help grow our events."

    Formed in 2004 by combining the former Conklin Shows, Blomsness-Thiebault Enterprises and Farrow Shows,  NAME has an inventory of more than 200 amusement rides, custom-designed food concessions and family-oriented games, More than 15 million fairgoers visit a NAME's midway, featured at about 150 fairs per year across the United States and Canada, including some of North America's largest fairs - the Eastern States Exposition, Canadian National Exposition, Calgary Stampede, Indiana State Fair, Illinois State Fair, K-Days Edmonton, Mississippi State Fair, Miami-Dade County Fair and Expo, Kentucky State Fair and South Carolina State Fair.

    Currently, NAME events overlap with Townsquare markets in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Massachusetts. Yenicay said value-added synergy between the two companies, the acquisition "brings deeper pockets to NAME than any of their other competitors, enhancing the offerings they can provide the fair."

    How the two companies will interface is still being developed. Yenicay doesn't foresee "much changes in the day-to-day operations of NAME," she said. She cautioned that there it will take "a while to ramp up, and by year three, we will have identified areas of both businesses that we can improve. But fairs will start to see stuff in 2016 and we hope to see other benefits soon after. There's a great expectation for this deal." 

    As the synergies progress, in addition to grown existing events, NAME is looking to expanding its routes. "We are adding to the events we do and even adding another unit," said Huston.

    The acquisition also makes NAME the only midway provider who is now a publicly traded company.  In terms of  how this new status might impact the corporate culture of NAME,  Huston said "we have been a family operated company, that will always remain. Townsquare does a lot of things in communities that are family oriented. Townsquare does what they do and North American does what we do."
    Blomsness added, "we believe this is a powerful combination: our experience and history as a leading provider of amusements in North America coupled with the additional products, services and resources of Townsquare."

    "This acquisition furthers our efforts to diversify our product offerings and increase our non-advertising based revenue, allowing us to offer more multi-channel, cross platform content opportunities to our consumers and business clients," said Price. 

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HEADLINES from the web
Poor Jack Amusements
Poor Jack Amusements
4/21/2015 - 10/10/2015
Butler Amusements
Kern County Fair
Bakersfield , CA
9/23/2015 - 10/4/2015
Butler Amusements
Central Washington State Fair
Yakima , WA
9/25/2015 - 10/4/2015
Belle City
ArkLaMiss Fair
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9/25/2015 - 10/4/2015
Houghton Carnival
Middletown, DE
9/25/2015 - 10/31/2015
Wade Shows
Middle Tennessee District Fair
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9/28/2015 - 10/4/2015

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

View Top 50 Fairs

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The Industry Buzz
Bingo Hauser Passes
MCW has learned that Canada's West Coast Amusements founder, Bingo Hauser, has passed.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hauser family.  As more information comes available, we will post it here.

In 2012, we conducted a video interview with Bingo as a part of our "Four Questions with Industry Pioneers" feature.  That interview can be seen by clicking here.
  Posted by MCW on 9/14/2015
Ray Cammack Shows buys Dutch Lamberink Gondola Wheel

Ray Cammack Show's Guy Leavitt and Ben Pickett announced the purchase of a new Gondola Wheel, built by Lamberink BV of the Netherlands and sold through Peter Theunisz's Used Rides Europe.  The wheel stands 108 ft tall and has 24 gondolas capable of seating up to six adults.  The ride has a LED color changing lighting package, galvanized sub-frame, stainless steel fencing, electric motors, PILZ safety system and Emmerson frequency drive units. What is so unique about this wheel is that it can be set up without the use of a crane and moves on only 3 semi-trailers!  Cosmetically, the wheel will have a white color scheme and will feature a RCS logo on the axle hub.

The wheel will be delivered in December and shipped to Galveston, TX. The wheel will have a large sign on the axle with the RCS logo on it.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/9/2015
Reithoffer Shows debuts new Galaxy Coaster in NM State Fair

Reithoffer Shows announced the debut of their new Galaxy roller coaster at the New Mexico State Fair, opening September 10.  The Galaxy was built by Interpark of Italy, whom acquired the ever popular Pinfari coaster models.  The Galaxy has the same track layout as a Pinfari Zyklon and travels on three trailers.  After the New Mexico State Fair, the coaster will play the Georgia National Fair and will travel primarily on the blue unit.  Last week, the show debuted a new Wisdom Himalaya themed the Music Express at Riot Fest in Denver, CO.

Reithoffer's coaster purchase marks the fourth new coaster purchased from Interpark by a North American carnival in the past year.  Last year, Ray Cammack Shows purchased a "Zyklon" model coaster, and this year three more were sold to Playworld Amusements, Wade Shows, and Reithoffer Shows.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/4/2015
Tim Nolan Passes
Timothy J. "Tim" Nolan, 53, of Zanesville, passed away Sunday, August 30, 2015. 

Tim was born on August 24, 1962 a son of the late Fred and Sallie Nolan. He was a graduate of Maysville High School and MATC. Tim was the owner of The Treasure Cove and brought the game room concept to Zanesville in 2005. Being a part of the Nolan family he was deeply involved in the Nolan Amusement business all of his life, always providing quality entertainment whether with rides or concessions. He was a great promoter and always had new and inventive ideas. At the time he was trying to revive the old "Moxahala Park", it was his dream.

He is survived by one son, Timothy James "TJ" (Klissa) Nolan; three grandchildren, Ashlynn, Makayla, and Tanner; one brother, George Scott (Amy) Nolan; long time fiance, Chris Boring. 

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, Rick Nolan and Kevin Nolan. 

  Posted by Obiturary on 9/3/2015
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.


Campy's Amusements is Now Hiring for 2015 - Ring of Fire Foreman, Electrician, Ride Supers


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

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