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  • Picture Perfect Tulsa State Fair Introduces New Midway
    Fairgoers coming to the 2016 Tulsa State Fair saw something they had not seen in more four decades - a new midway. Earlier this year it was announced that the Tulsa State Fair had signed a contract with NAME (North American Midway Entertainment), making this mobile amusement leader the first new midway company for the Tulsa State Fair since 1971. 

    "Our first year as the midway provider for the Tulsa State Fair was a huge success!", said Danny Huston, President of North American Midway Entertainment. "Mark Andrus, Amanda Blair and their team were wonderful to work with. We look forward to continuing the success and growth of the fair through safe, family entertainment and spectacular rides .", he added.

    Rides & Layout
    The NAME Midway featured about 65 rides, said Amada Blair COO & Fair Manager and while all the rides were new to the fair, Blair said that the Bonsai ride was- "the type of ride people hadn't seen before," she said. 

    Ride revenue was up 7 percent compared to last year - "we can't really increase the quantity of rides, we're landlocked, so we stayed consistent with the number or rides, mainly because we only have so much space," she said. 

    Blair emphasized that the change in midway provider was a major plus for this year's fair. "Mainly people were impressed with the new midway and what a great job as an organization they did for us," said Blair. "They have a very professional presentation, the staff was fantastic, and uniformly consistent with the product. Also, the staff wasn't just more professional but there was more staff onsite than we ever had," she said. "Guest services was placed right in the center of the midway, and they assisted our patrons, answering questions and were all bout communicating the fairgoer and creating that fair experience, they invested in the staff and training and that made a huge difference."

    In addition, she pointed out that NAME increased the shaded and seating areas, and improved the overall aesthetics of the midway. However, more significantly, the midway company and fair dramatically redesigned the midway layout, overhauling the placement of nearly all the attractions, food vendors and of course, rides and games. As Blair describes it, the old midway had an X-shaped format, with pedestrian walkways intersecting at the midway's epicenter. The new layout was in an 11 shape: basically two parallel walkways. 

    "We worked very closely with NAME on the new format, which are two main lanes but it really integrated better all the independent vendors with the carnival," she said. "People traveled from the east end to the west end very cleanly, and NAME did a great job in concealing electrical cords. The key emphasis was that the people could see straight down the lane and know where they are going. It maximized the frontage of all the concessionaires."

    While the layout did not increase or decrease the size of the actual midway, some concessionaires were displaced from traditional spot. The shift made the east/west direction of the layout more dominant, but it also seating areas to be moved. "We were able to add some food vendors and most were re-positioned," she said. "The fair was changed to large rectangles, but that made grounds keeping easier as well."

    A reshaped fair and a new midway company seemed a lot of change for fairgoers to take in, "but we were very pleased with how all the changes were accepted," she said. "We got a lot of positive response, and it was a very significant change, the new layout and a new midway, there were a lot of different variables to take into account." 

    She praised NAME for "being part of the whole discussion, from the very beginning when they came on board we talked with them about changing the look of the midway and they were very supportive."

    However, more crucial was the response from fairgoers. "People liked the new midway, this fair exceeded our expectations," she said. 

    Robust Turnout
    The Tulsa State Fair had an estimated attendance of 1,206,000 million, a robust turnout that was a 4 percent increase in gate admission compared to 2015.

    "The crowds this year were phenomenal," said John Smaligo, Commissioner, Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority Chair. "I was amazed by the reaction from families to the new midway. The partnership with North American Midway Entertainment, exceeded expectations and illustrated the importance of bringing first class entertainment to Tulsa." 

    "Our outstanding staff and stakeholders are dedicated to creating the best possible environment for the Tulsa State Fair." Said Mark Andrus, President and CEO, "Every day our top priorities are to provide a safe, clean and family friendly event, where life long memories are made."

    Blair said it was the first year she remembers that weather that was "prefect for all 11 days. We feel our patrons in the community were coming to the fair and spending."

    The Oklahoma economy has been on a downswing, and a special emphasis for this year's fair was placed on creating fairgoer value. "The economic well being of our patrons is always a concern. I think people have a stay-cation mentality, and the fair is a good value, and we want to make sure they can really experience the fair." 

    Youth Programs
    This year's fair found an innovative way to both underscore its agricultural mission and improvement its engagement with youth - Trough Talk - where 4-H and FAA participants held interactive lectures and workshops. Instead of just holding contests and exhibitions, this new program "presented to the audience and interacted with the audience, and really brought an understanding or raising livestock and sharing their stories," she said. "Agricultural is still a huge part of what we do."

    In addition, the fair created Educational Program, a STEM program for school children where additional educational programs were held. More than 10,000 regional school kids came through the program - where the fair also was opened early and select concessionaires offered specially priced food items - was billed as "Oklahoma's Largest Classroom." 

    The fair featured 72 independent food vendors with a total of 138 stands. Blair noted that Tulsa "had a hot fair, so our beverage sales were up." She noted new food items that caught local attention included: Totchos, which are Tater Tots served nacho style with sour cream, chives, cheddar cheese and Italian seasonings, and the Frydae, which were French Fries served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

    Tulsa fairgoers seemed to prefer fair cuisine fried, with other new items being Deep Fried Root Beer Sticks, Deep Fried Nutella Sandwich, Deep Fried Pumpkin Pie, and Deep Fried Double Bacon Cheeseburger on a Stick.

    "There was no real trend this year," she said. "For the most part, our patrons enjoy savory Homestyle foods, deep fried southern comfort food." 

    Picture Perfect
    The fair's marketing budget was approximately $250,000, and according to Blair, the spending encompassed all media, including radio, TV, print, radio and billboards and social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The fair's Facebook page has 72,427 likes, and overall, more than 14 million impressions were made through various social media platforms. "We have allocated more towards television and social media, and less towards print, but we use digital ads on the newspaper websites," she said.

    Making the marketing more accessible was also a 2016 objective. The fair upgraded its website, making it a mobile website, which also accompanied its mobile app. According to Blair, upgraded it to feature "a customer friendly way to plan our day. We added a component that families could create an itinerary with a map that shows there where to go.' 

    New features included a food finder, "so if someone wanted to have a corn dog, they can type it and find the concessionaire."

    Social Media has been part of the fair's marketing campaigns for several years. But what once was an afterthought now leads the entire promotional push The Fair's marketing tagline in fact, encapsulated social media: Picture Perfect. To underscore the social media drive of the marketing, the fair created five "human sized frames," said Blair, located in different areas of the fair. 

    Each had a different Oklahoma State Fair theme, such as kids, livestock, and even a Golden Driller (for the energy industry), an iconic mascot for this region. Contemporary selfie culture responded enthusiastically. "Out theme enabled our patrons to really connect with the fair and we could connect with our audience. We used a Picture Perfect hashtag, and it showed people having that great fair experience." 

    The objective was a social media campaign that would encourage fair followers to feel part of the event. "We structure the campaign to grow interaction with our audience and to get the word out," she said. 

    "Tulsa really supports our fair, we are fortunate in that way, so the social media campaign encouraged and celebrated that."

    Social media is also and ongoing throughout the year. "What you have to avoid is that you do not want to inundate your audience," she said. "We program our messages throughout the year, and typically during the fair we do posts only one or two times a day, but before the fair it is about one or two per week, because you don't want to turn off the fan. But it is a balance, because you want to remain relevant." 

  • Amusements of America reflects on Hurricane Matthew
    CONCORD, N.C. --- Morris Vivona sits in his golf cart overlooking a slow Thursday night on the midway at the Queen City Fair.
    At age 96, the co-owner of Amusements of America and the industry's oldest living carnival operator, looks about half his age. Vivona exudes elegance, wearing his signature straw hat. It's part of the old-school tradition of dress codes, dating when carnivals traveled with live productions such as the Coppertone Revue, a girlie show Vivona remembers well.
    On this particular night in late October, though, he's not happy with the low turnout at a new spot across the street from Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Queen City Fair's old location at the Metrolina trade show complex was sold to a developer, forcing promoter Larry Linton to move both the Spring and Fall events elsewhere.
    The Fall fair was the first event to set by the racetrack. The speedway played host to a three-day car show over the event's final weekend, but it still wasn't enough to boost business across the street. For Amusements of America, the event was down this compared with 2015 despite great weather, according to Morris Vivona Jr.
    His father said, "If you were traveling [as a carnival] and saw this location, you'd swear you would have to play it. We were thinking Charlotte Motor Speedway, some of the best name recognition in the world. You can see how many cars pass by. It's like 42nd and Broadway."
    Often, it takes time for a new location to kick in after the move. There could have been some other factors in play as well. Here in Concord, a few miles up the road, Powers Great American Midways played the Cabarrus County Fair in early September. Concord itself is about 27 miles north of the Charlotte city limits and about half the distance from where the event was previously held at the old Metrolina Tradeshow Expo grounds.
    Despite the outcome, Amusements of America is not giving up on the new spot. The international unit, headed by Morris Sr. and Jr., will be back at the same location in April. The other unit, run by Marco Vivona, son of Dominic Vivona, which played the Spring fair in Charlotte, is moving to the Park Expo & Conference near uptown Charlotte for a May event.
    After playing Greater Charlotte, the Vivonas' season concluded at the Coastal Carolina Fair, Oct. 27-Nov. 6. 
    "We caught perfect weather," Morris Jr. said. "The fair was way up."
    It was a nice way to finish up after some brutal weather tied to Hurricane Matthew, which devastated parts of North Carolina in early October. The show suffered through multiple weeks of poor weather surrounding fairs in Rocky Mount, Kinston and Jacksonville, N.C. The good news is the equipment held together. The only damage was "serious money damage," Morris Sr. said.
    In Jacksonville alone, about 40 miles from the Atlantic coast, the Onslow County Fair, Oct. 3-8, turned into a washout due to the hurricane. 
    "We were way ahead of last year overall, about 15 percent, until the bad weather hit," Morris Jr. said. "There were torrential downpours and a blackout. It rained from the day we got there until the day we left. We had to tear the show down but couldn't get off the lot [to get to Charlotte]. We were detained. What is typically a 240 mile jump became 400 miles with all the creeks and rivers flooding."
    Before Jacksonville, the show played the Lenoir County Fair in Kinston, which had 22 inches of water in one commercial building. For Amusements of America, it was the second consecutive year storms have wreaked havoc with their fall run in North Carolina.
    "We were [in Kinston] two weeks before the hurricane hit and still got rained out," Morris Jr. said. "I kept thinking, 'Everything's great, we're up. There's no way we can get rained out two weeks in row, two years in a row. They were calling it the worst hurricane since 1852. No way. Funny though, every time we left Jacksonville, the sun was shining."
    The unit's northern route in New York and New Jersey was much better weather-wise, he said. From mid-July to mid-September, the carnival plays five county fairs and the Niagara County (N.Y.) Peach Festival. 
    Overall, the international unit does not use foreign labor and the Vivonas know they're one of the few major carnivals to operate without the benefit of the H2B visa program. 
    "It doesn't mean we're not going to use them in the future," Morris Jr. said. "Most of our route consists of dates we've played for 20 plus years. We change maybe a half-dozen spots a year. That's it, We run a stable operation and have most of the same [American-born] workers come back every year." 
    "You lose some and you gain some, but it's not getting easier," he said. "I've had [other show owners] tell me they won't take a carnival out if they can't get foreign labor."
    Looking ahead, Morris Sr. and Jr. have purchased two new KMG Speed rides  One will be delivered in October 2017 and the other in the Spring of 2018. In addition, they bought a new Kolmax Dumbo kiddie ride that was a hot seller at the Gibtown trade show in February. The piece features a 60-foot platform with gigantic elephant cars, and accommodates both children and adults. Ride capacity is 32.
    "They sold about 15 in Gibtown," Morris Sr. said. 'It's a very attractive ride."
    Apart from the new rides, the Vivonas installed a new LED light package on the YoYo and bumper cars at a cost approaching $100,000. Lightning upgrades can be costly, Morris Jr. said.
    The elder Vivona, meanwhile, plans to be on the road again in 2017. More than 80 years after he first started selling frozen custard as a 15-year-old concessions vendor with World of Mirth Shows, Morris Sr. is still going strong. He's proud of his family's carnival history and notes that he was part of the group that founded the Outdoor Amusement Business Association in 1964.
    "We needed something to protect our interests," he said. "We had a meeting at my suite at Sherman House in Chicago during the fair convention. I'm the only one among that group that's still active."

  • South Carolina State Fair Draws Visitors with New Promotions
    This year, the South Carolina State Fair celebrated its 147th year. Assistant Fair Manager Nancy Smith says that the 2016 fair was "one of the best we've ever had." 

    A self-proclaimed "riding and eating fair," the South Carolina State Fair is committed to providing diverse and extensive vendors as well as an impressive Midway for its customers to enjoy. While riding and eating are important, the fair also stays consistent to its mission: to educate young adults in South Carolina about agriculture. 

    Attendance increased from 429,947 in 2015 to 464,878 despite Hurricane Matthew taking away a day of fair set up; "We were very blessed that everyone was safe and we ended up with 12 gorgeous days of weather," said Smith. 

    The dramatic increase in attendance was a result of the South Carolina State Fair's commitment to providing many and diverse admission special days. On opening day, admission is $1; the goal is to start the fair off with strong attendance. Every day of the fair, active duty and retired military personnel get into the fair free. In addition, on the first Thursday of the fair, they partnered with Fort Jackson, the largest local military base, to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Also on Thursday, the fair hosted South Carolina Farm Bureau day as well as a 4-H alumni day; they held a luncheon for 4-H alumni in order to foster "mentoring of young 4-H folks and encourage them in their agricultural endeavors," says Smith. On Saturday, 4-H members get into the fair free with their membership card, further demonstrating the fair's commitment to agriculture. 

    During the weekdays, the fair offers a lunch special starting at 12pm; people pay $10 to get into the fair and are given a token, if they leave the fair by 2pm they get their $10 back. This special caters to working men and women who want to have lunch at the fair.

    The fair also held many education-related specials including Kindergarden day on Tuesday and Wednesday: students, teachers, and chaperones get in free for field trips to the fair and Physics Day: high school physics classes get in free and study the physical aspects of the rides. 

    One of the fair's newer admission specials is "College Day," a day on which college students get into the fair free with a valid student ID. Smith says they had great participation again this year and even hosted some students from USC's rival school, Clemson. 

    The fair also hosts Senior Day: seniors get in at a reduced rate and get free Ferris Wheel rides as well as Exceptional Citizens Day: citizens with disabilities and their caretakers get into the fair for free. On the last Saturday of the fair, they hosted Scout Heritage Day and partnered with USC Football, giving free admission prior to kickoff to people with a USC football ticket. Finally, the fair gave free admission to those with a Walk For Life T-Shirt on the last Saturday and Sunday of the fair.

    The South Carolina State Fair partners with North American Midway Entertainment as their Midway provider. 

    For the first time this year, the fair offered pay one price ride specials every day of the fair. The promotion was extremely successful and customers were very pleased to have a pay one price option each day. The fair sold pay one price tickets both online and in Walgreens; "NAME did a great job with us and were just as pleased with the success of the pay one price ride options as we were" says Smith. 

    In addition to the Midway, the fair had plenty of entertainment for guests. The 5,000 seat Pepsi Grandstand hosted 6 concerts throughout the fair: two paid and four free. 

    The free concerts included: Aloe Blacc, Dustin Lynch, For King and Country, and Curt Franklin. The two paid concerts were Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alabama, both of which were sellouts. 

    Smith mentioned that finding sell-out entertainment for everyone has become more challenging overtime but the fair is devoted to finding diverse entertainment that appeals to every demographic.

    On their family entertainment stages, the fair hosted the Lou-Ma Cool Dog Show, Swifty Swine, Sandscapes, Dennis Lee, Benny the Clown, a comedy juggler, The Country River Band, and the hypnotist Ron Diamond, who said he had his biggest crowd ever on college night of the fair. 

    The Hampton Plaza area held the BMX stunt show and Safari Acrobats. Numerous roving acts such as Circle City Sidewalk Stompers, Mariachi Divas, and T-Texas Terry kept customers entertained wherever the were on the fairgrounds. The fair also featured a "yester-year" area which featured old-timey demonstrations such as the rust and flame blacksmith, a potter, and bowl-making demonstrations. 2016 South Carolina State Fairgoers were not disappointed in the entertainment arena.

    The 4-H and FFA area of the South Carolina State Fair hosted livestock shows of all varieties as well as a plethora of domestic exhibits. Nancy Smith, assistant fair manager, said that there were participants from every county in this year's 4-H and FFA competitions.

    The domestic exhibits and demonstrations were held inside fairgrounds buildings. Exhibits included woodworking, sewing, needlework, baking, healthy lifestyle cooking contests, lego/robotics demonstrations, pumpkin decorating competitions, giant pumpkin displays, Bee exhibits (complete with a huge balloon beehive), and butterfly exhibits. All agriculture and insect exhibits were complete with educational placards in order to keep the focus on informing South Carolina's youth. 

    This year, the fair decided to combine their flower and art exhibits together; this was a huge success. They were able to partner with the Palmetto Opera on the 1st Saturday of the fair; two opera singers with accompaniment on the keyboard entertained guest in the fine arts exhibits area. 

    Additionally, the South Carolina Philharmonic brought 25 performers to the fine arts area and displayed their "you conduct it" program; fairgoers were able to step up to the empty podium and conduct the philharmonic. Smith said the partnerships were immensely successful and gave the fine arts building a really cultured feel; they look forward to pursuing those partnerships again next year. 

    Livestock shows at the fair included rabbit showmanship, poultry showmanship, 4-H meat goat show, dairy cattle, beef cattle, swine, sheep, donkeys, mules, horses and dairy goats. This year, about 90 kids participated in the meat goat show: the fair's biggest showing ever! 

    The 4-H and FFA students hosted border collie demonstrations; the dogs herded sheep and ducks for fairgoers to see. 4-H and FFA also helped man Cow Town, an area in which people could milk the animals and get a hands-on education about agriculture and livestock industries. 

    As we know, the food at the South Carolina State Fair is an important aspect to its success. One of the favorite stands this year was DeAnna's Food Concession Stand which served a variety of diverse sundaes: a steak sundae, breakfast sundae, pulled pork sundae, and a bayou sundae. All the sundaes were huge hits with customers. A new food this year was deep fried cake pops which became a crowd favorite very quickly. 

    Daley Concessions featured a pickled corndog this year which many brave fairgoers gave a try. Lastly, a quesadilla burger was a popular food option for customers. 

    The South Carolina State Fair operates with a $300,000 advertising budget. Typically, the fair outsources marketing to a local company but, for the first time this year, the fair decided to compose a marketing team of their own; "The team worked out very well. We know the fair so that made it easier for us to make marketing and advertising decisions that worked well for the fair," says Smith. 

    They spent the advertising budget on television, billboards, the state newspaper, and radio spots; they also host radio and television stations on the grounds every day of the fair. 

    Additionally, the fair redid their website and increased their social media budget this year to keep up with the ever-developing digital media age. 

    The South Carolina State Fair is a 501 C-3 organization and, therefore, does not receive state support. They focus on their mission of educating South Carolina's youth and commit to this mission by giving out $300,000 in scholarships for high school senior pursuing in-state college education. 

  • 2016 IAFE Trade Show Wednesday Highlights
    The final day of the IAFE Convention and trade show at the Paris in Las Vegas ended with a sold out trade show for the third consecutive year.  The organization also landed a new beer sponsor in Lagunitas Brewing Company.
    The performer showcases within the trade show was also expanded.  This year, 23 acts performed live for convention guests, showcasing their many talents.  The expanded program has become very popular for buyers and performers alike.  
    The IAFE also concluded its silent auction which went on for two days, raising money for the IAFE Educational Foundation.  
    Exact numbers were not available at press time but the event seemed to be a success in terms of traffic and the quality of seminars and classes offered to attendees.
    Charlie Smith of Populous has quietly changed the landscape for millions of our nations' fairgoers.  Smith who started in the amusement park business, is one the leading planners, designers and redesigners of our nation's fairs. 
    In 1982, Smith, a trained architect licensed in 27 states, was working on the design and construction of the World's Fair in Knoxville, TN.  The work had a very high profile and soon he was contacted by Bill Greiner, Director of the Wisconsin State Fair.  Greiner wanted to make his event look more like the World's Fair and invited Smith to come see his fair.
    Smith, unfamiliar at the time with the size and scope of large fairs, remembers thinking he "didn't know a single thing about them".  Once he made the visit to West Allis however, he was immediately impressed with the size and scope of the event and saw the great similarities to amusement parks and his work at the World's Fair. 
    The fair wanted to improve crowd circulation, make building improvements and create guest comforts.  As Smith recalls, this first project took about six months to design a master plan for the fair.
    Smith attended an IAFE  Spring Manager's Conference where he met other prominent fair managers such Wayne Gallagher of the Texas State Fair and Mike Heffron of the Minnesota State Fair.  
    The next year, 1983, his company, Bullock, Smith and Partners, exhibited for the first time at the IAFE annual convention.  He brought 4 design boards that he pinned to the curtain in his display area and conducted a workshop on master planning.
    Through his work at the conference, his contacts from the Spring Manager's event and his work with the Wisconsin State Fair, he soon gained many new fair clients.  
    Coming from an amusement park background, Smith saw that amusements parks generally had a simpler layout while fairs were more complex.  He said many fairs start with a linear loop-type design but then they add on here and there without a master plan and the result is poor traffic flow, dead ends, bottlenecks and redundancy. 
    When developing the fair's master plan, Smith does 23 diagrams studying highway access, local access, entry gates, building quality, solar orientation, gates and identifies constraints.  Design options, with price tags are attached to the plan for the client to review.  After a period of input front the client, Smith then takes in feedback and develops the final presentation.
    Smith describes World's Fairs, Fairgrounds, Olympics and theme parks as being similar in design and follow 1 of 5 types of designs:
    1)    "The Traditional Mall" - This design is essentially a straight line up and back with clear sight lines
    2)    "The Loop Oval"  -- Like many carnival midways, the loop oval spreads attendees throughout the oval and provides an ingress and egress.
    3)    "Star" - Think the castle at Disney World. This design has a focal point in the middle and a hub and spoke system for traffic flow
    4)    "Maze" - This is a layout that happens over time without a master plan, developing dead ends, bottlenecks and redundancy.
    5)    "Grid" - Like the streets of New York, this design has both north and south and east and west facing walkways.
    Many fairgrounds display more than one type of these layouts.  Smith calls the oval loop the most effective and efficient way to move traffic evenly throughout the event.
    Throughout his 33 years in the business, Smith has completed projects for the Big E, Utah State Fair, Ohio State Fair, Houston Livestock Show and Exhibition, North Dakota State Fair and New Mexico State Fair, just to name a small sample.  
    Currently, he is working on a huge renovation project for the New York State Fair. The projected, expected to cost about $190 million when completed, just finished the $50 million Phase I.  Highlights of the first phase include  new facilities and renovations, a new entrance gate and a completely new midway.  Phases II is expected to be completed by the 2017 fair and Phase III by 2018.  
    Smith's company takes on about 15 - 20 projects each year and because the events continue to improve and renovate their grounds, he seems to never run out of exciting new projects on which to spend his considerable time and talents.
    There were not quite as many carnivals exhibiting at the IAFE Trade Show this year.  Carnival Warehouse spotted Frazier Shows, and Powers Great American Midways manning their respective booths.

    Powers Great American Midways
    In the PGAM booth, Phil and Dean Corl, sons of Debbie Powers, Marc Janas and Corky Powers could all be seen taking turns greeting fairs and events.  
    PGAM is scheduled to open the 2nd week of March in North Carolina, close to its winter quarters in Wilmington.  They then play fair and events throughout the country, closing back in the Wilmington area in November.
    Important stops along their route include the Dutchess County Fair, the North Carolina State Fair, the Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg, MD, the Allentown Fair and they even send some rides with Wade Shows to the New York State Fair.
    The show has been busy buying rides in the past year and will debut 6 new pieces on the midway in 2017.  A KMG Speed and Kolmax rides Flying Elephant, Tea Cups,  Scooters, and Train are all new additions.

    Reithoffer Shows signs South Plains Fair
    In other carnival/fair news, Reithoffer Show was proudly announcing the signing of the South Plains Fair in Lubbock Texas, expanding their western route started with the acquisition of the New Mexico State Fair contract.

    The fair signed a three-year agreement naming Reithoffer the carnival for 2017, 2018 and 2019, according to Herb Higgs, CFE, General Manager of the Fair and Richard Reithoffer, President of Reithoffer Shows.

    Higgs says its management wanted to offer more spectacular, better quality rides. "The stars were aligned", said Higgs. The opportunity arose when Higgs learned Reithoffer was the carnival of record at the New Mexico State Fair, which ends five days prior to the opening of Lubbock, and is just 350 miles to the west. "Not only did we fit in the route, but the quality of the Show is one of the finest in America," he added. "This will be a big hit with our customers. They're going to ride rides they've never seen before".
    Perhaps the biggest announcement will be the signing of the Arkansas State Fair by NAME but neither the fair nor the carnival has made an official announcement, despite confirmation from multiple sources.
    2017 will mark the final year of the convention in Las Vegas before moving to San Antonio Texas in 2018.  The show has been in Las Vegas since 1971.

    2016 IAFE / SLA Trade Show Coverage

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I.I.S.F. Gibtown Extravaganza - Gibsonton, FL
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2015 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. Canadian National Exhibition

View Top 50 Fairs
The Industry Buzz
James Judkins of JKJ Workforce is urging all of those in the amusement industry to call your congressmen and urge them to include the returning worker exemption in the upcoming continuing resolution.  

This is a time sensitive matter that must be completed by December 6, and if not passed, many employers will NOT receive their foreign workers this year.

As of December 4, only 35 of 400 congressmen signed Congressman Andy Harris' letter urging congress to re-instate the returning worker exemption that expired in September.  You can download a copy of the letter by clicking here.


If you do not know their direct numbers, you can reach them through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121.  Once connected to the office, ask to speak to the person who handles H-2B issues. Congress must understand that a failure to reinstate the H-2B returning worker exemption before March will result in American job losses. 
  Posted by JKJ Workforce on 12/5/2016
Carnival Calendars are on SALE
MCW's annual carnival calendars are now on sale!  Get them while they last.  We will not be printing any more this year!   2017 Calendars can be ordered by click here.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 11/22/2016
John Peco Named the Canadian National Exhibition Association's Chief Officer, Business Development & Innovation
Toronto, Ontario ... John Peco has been appointed the Canadian National Exhibition Association's Chief Officer, Innovation and Business Development, the CNEA announced today.

"This is a new position, which has been created to fulfill the exciting and evolving needs of our 138 year-old organization." stated Virginia Ludy, the CEO of the Association. "Since we are now an independent entity, we are seeking to expand our business model beyond our 18-day fair. John brings a solid business background, excellent entrepreneurial skills as well as "hands-on" experience in the fair industry to our Association," she elaborated. "We are very thrilled to have him on board to guide us through this transformative period in our history!"

Peco, who joins the CNEA on January 3, 2017, is currently 1st Vice President of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE). He comes to the CNE directly from the Markham Fair where he has served as General Manager since 2011. Previous to his time in the fair industry, he flourished as an entrepreneur and owner of several businesses in the corporate consulting and IT sectors.

  Posted by CNE Press Release on 11/16/2016
Wade Shows Midway receives 97% Approval Rating from New York State
New York State Governor Cuomo held a press conference announcing the results of phase one of a $50 million renovation to The New York State Fairgrounds. During the press conference, she announced that the revitalized Wade Shows Midway, in its new, larger home, scored the highest marks since the survey began in 2008, with 97 percent of respondents saying the Midway experience was very positive. When respondents were asked what improvements they noticed, the number one item mentioned was "more space or openness," at 44 percent, with 88 percent giving the "openness feature" a positive rating.

More information can be found on the Governor's official press release by clicking here.
  Posted by Press Release on 11/9/2016
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.

LIFETIME Products is building bunk houses for carnivals, concessionaires, entertainers and more with units starting at just $39,900.  Call 813-781-9182 for info.

Call Chestnut Identity Apparel for all your amusement industry LED lighting and apparel needs.  Visit for more info.

Evans United Shows is now booking game concessions for the 2016 season!  Call Tom Evans   (816) 392-0759
 or email

Galaxy Amusement Sales - LED Tube lights, LED lights, and much more!  Visit or call 800-404-5873

For all your financing needs, contact Firestone Financial.  We specialize in financing amusement companies, concessionaires, and more.

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