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  • Midway Millennials - Powers Great American Midways
    (Midway Millennials is an ongoing series profiling the new generation of fair professionals)

    Dean Corl, Office Manager, for Powers Great American Midways may work in the fair industry, but sees a bigger picture. "We are in the entertainment business, we are an entertainment company." 

    What is the objective of the entertainment? 

    Families spending time together and having a good time. "Seeing the smile on a child's face, you feel you have made a change in this world. There are so many things in life that bring people pain and suffering. But a carnival, that can light up the world, and you feel you are having positive influence. What makes me happy is seeing them happy."

    Fair Upbringing
    Dean Corl is the older brother of Phil Corl, who are 4th generation carnival workers on their mother's - Debbie Powers - side and are the adopted sons of Corky Powers, owner/founder of Powers Great American Midways.

    Like many of his cohorts - midway professionals who are offspring of fair families - Dean Corl grew up on the midway. 
    His earliest midway memory of a ride is the "Super Jets," which is now best compared to "a Wisdom Cobra Costar." 

    He also remembers the electrical boxes - a technology long since replaced - on the midway grounds, which were opened and had "popsicle sticks sticking out of them so you wouldn't get electrocuted."

    As soon as he was able, he began working fairs. "I basically had the winters off, but worked all summer," he said. "I started with the fried dough and funnel cake stands. Some fairs call them elephant ears."

    Along the way, he earned an Associates Degree in Science from Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina, and was encouraged to consider career paths. Before committing full time to Powers' Great American Midways, in his early 20s he worked for Verizon and also Walt Disney at Epcot Center. But even in these new environments, his fair breeding  was apparent. "I worked in the outdoor food department, and managers loved me, because I wanted to be a stocker," he said. A stocker essentially manages inventory. "Nobody wanted to be a stocker, but it was second nature to me." 

    Erratic Love
    As many fair family offspring eventually realize, he wanted to be part of the family business, although he understands that it is hard to convey the idiosyncratic appeal of the mobile amusement industry lifestyle. When he was working at other professions, "I always wanted to leave. I realized I missed the erratic hours, as crazy as that might sound. It's the reverse of other jobs most other people have. You work long hours on the weekend, you're off in the middle of the week. But that always seemed like freedom to me."

    He added, "I love to drive. I love being in the truck and driving. You get to see all parts of the country, like North Carolina. Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, Catskills, New York. You get see all the different foliage and people. I love the travel part of the job."

    After returning back to the fold full time in 2006, he was named Ride Supervisor. In 2009, he was promoted to his present position of Office Manager, a job that combines people skills and his computer skills as he oversees essentially every component of the midway and its personnel - ticket sales, payroll, security, state and local permits, and interfacing with fair and event personnel. He makes sure the port-o-johns are clean and the dumpsters are empty. And, he handles all customer complaints.

    Many Hats
    "You have to wear many hats," he said. "You have be aware of the fair you are at, and the fair 30 days from now. I am basically the face of the company, I'm doing the walk throughs with the inspectors and dealing with the fair manager." 

    In addition, his duties only begin with the fair. Powers Great American Midways is using about 100 H-2B Visa workers this year. By late June, the midway had a sufficient workforce. In the springtime, the work force "was very thin, we were waiting for the paperwork to go through. It was very challenging, there were a lot of delays. They only tell you that it is delayed, they don't give you a reason," he said.

    As Office Manager, he has a lead role in the midway company's recruitment of foreign worker, a job that entails interacting with a range of governmental agencies, including Immigration & Naturalization,  Department of Labor and  Homeland security. It's a matter of juggling emails, phone calls, and paper work. "It can be very challenging,  because there's always delays and none of the agencies need to tell you why there is a delay, so they don't. It's very frustrating  because if you don't know, there's no way to avoid a delay." 

    But it's the face of the company when it comes to customer complaints that can be the most problematic. His secret is, "never get excited. No matter if they may be screaming or hollering, never get excited. Just be calm and logical. You never know their backstory, they're dog might have just died or something. So the most important part is to listen." 

    Otherwise, there's no silver bullet. "it's a case by case situation, what may be good for this person may not be okay for the next person.  Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the person  leaves with a smile."

    As the face of the company, Dean Corl attends state and national conventions, meeting and networking with professionals his age and older. "We definitely have a lot to learn from the older generation, they built this industry," he said. "When I first went, I thought there wouldn't be anyone my age to talk to, but there was and I think our numbers are increasing. Our presence is being noticed, which is positive." 

    But make no mistake, it's the new Millennial blood that will be bringing new changes to the fair business. "People from my generation, we are networking and sharing stories."

    New Generation
    The leading change his generation is working towards is the perception of the midway workers.  "We definitely want to change the image of the people who work the midway. We want to get rid of the old image of a shady carnie working fairs. We want to make the midway experience a family and fun experience. It might even take another generation to fully erase it, that is one goal we share, to make the entire midway experience positive."

    The image makeover may be the top agenda item, but it also seems intertwined with the Gen-X fair professional intention to make the midway as pristine and high-tech as Disney World. "There's no reason why a fair's midway can't be more like Epcot or Six Flags.  We want the midway to be cleaner, safer and of course, bigger, better, faster."

    He added, "our generation is pushing the new technologies, with light towers and speakers systems, ticketless systems and wireless communications. There is a lot more we can do, but as an industry, we are taking baby steps in the right direction. The ones my age who grew up in this business, we are here to stay."  

  • State Fair Meadowlands: Last Minute Marketing Makes New Jersey Great Again
    The State Fair Meadowlands in New Jersey celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016, which prompted Al Dorso, president of State Fair Event Management, to increase his advertising budget by about $25,000 to $475,000. 

    Like many fairs, this Garden State extravaganza has allocated marketing funds away from print to newer mediums - and for Meadowlands that increase targeted an old medium that has been made new again - digitized billboards. The State Fair Meadowlands is held on the Meadowlands Sports Complex, accessible to the New Jersey Turnpike and other highways and just like classic Bruce Springsteen songs, cars are still a way of life for the target demographic of the fair.

    Trump/Christie Inspiration
    Of the advertising budget, Dorso always keeps aside about $10,000 for any last minute opportunities to promote the fair. If you can recall way back in June, New Jersey's Governor, Chris Christie, after he dropped out of the presidential primary race, made public his support for Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate when the Meadowlands Fair was imminent. 

    At the same time, Christie was being considered for the #2 spot on the GOP ticket. Nationwide, the presidential race has been a daily headline grabber for at least a year, but in the New York/New Jersey metro region, Christie and Donald Trump were suddenly even more dominant than usual in this media saturated part of the country.

    Trump and Christie may be polarizing figures - people either hate or support them - but the fact is everybody knows them, their every tweet seems to be newsworthy - led to inspiration. 

    Dorso decided to co-op a famous Trumpism while also playing off of Christie's very public relationship with the Donald. He purchased additional digital space that that ran with a new message - "Make New Jersey Great Again."

    "I'm a creative guy," he said. "We had a set schedule of advertising, but I decided to spend our reserve on last minute billboards with Make New Jersey Great Again."

    The audience who sees these billboards numbers in the millions. In addition, local news outlets also noticed and a few humorous press reports reported on the State Fair Meadowlands having some welcomed fun at the expense of  national  politics. "It made the news, we got some press on it," he said. "That is always worth more than any advertising or PR. Any time you can break through the static it's a good thing."

    It was also evident that digital billboards have become an effective medium. "More eyes see the billboards, and with the digital you can change them. So the guy who drives by the same billboard everyday to work sees that it is a different message today than it was yesterday. I think that has more of an impact than other advertising these days. The billboards never get static, and you can put multiple messages to promote the fair."

    Non-Viral Viral
    The changing media landscape and the inherent nature of new media also were contributing factors avoiding potentially negative publicity. A fight broke out between teenagers at the fair at about 12:30 AM and a fairgoer taped it and put it on Facebook, receiving upwards of a million likes, according to Dorso.

    But how viral is viral? The public relations company Dorso contracts with suggested  immediately issuing a press release. His cooler head prevailed, seeing that the tape lasted 30 seconds and in reality, not much longer. Security handled the situation quickly and professionally,  and while it made fun viewing, it was not a situation. "The kids just danced around, no one was hurt, within seconds of starting it ended," he said. "A press release would have just brought more attention with it. And the thing with social media, is that even if it gets a big audience, it disappears fast too, people go on to something else."

    He added, that the following days - the weekend, "were huge, had a great turn out. Nobody was talking about the video at all."

    Rain & Economy
    Clever marketing cannot make up for bad weather, it can only minimize its impact. Fair attendance took a dip from the previous year, mainly due to rain, although several bright spots ensured a successful event, which ran for 17 days. 

    For example, the second Friday was a lost cause due to rain, and the rain also marred the July 4th  closing day - but the Sunday before had an "excellent day" of 33,0000, and there was another high day of 44,000, but he cautioned, "you have to watch it, because you don't want too long a wait for the rides or the food, you want a manageable and comfortable fair."  

    Dorso mentioned that the New Jersey economy has gotten better compared to last year, but he said the improvement was mainly incremental. "Unemployment is still high around here, and incomes aren't raising," he said. "Families aren't spending like they were before the recession." 

    One indicator - perhaps a counter-intuitive metric - was that the discounted fair nights - which are also weekday nights - were not well attended. "People are saving their money for the weekends, when they have a big day at the fair. They are not coming to the fair twice, they plan their weekends. The good days we were way up, but the special discount days were not drawing them up."  

    Cousin Brucie
    In celebration of the 30th anniversary, the concert line up for the fair was heavy on 80s-oriented bands, both original and tribute bands , acknowledging the decade when the first State Fair Meadowlands was born.  Acts included: Trixter and  Riff - two New Jersey based bands who had their earliest success during the  Reagan era - and Mike Delguidice & Big Shot Celebrating the Music of Billy Joel (the ensemble features members of Billy Joel's back-up band); Gypsy- A True Stevie Nicks Experience; and Rubix Kube, an everything 80s tribute band, whose show is entitled "The Eighties Strike Back Show." 

    Returning again was Sirius XM presents, "Cousin Brucie's Palisades Park Reunion IV," which featured stars of yesteryear:  Bobby Rydell, The Fireflies, Passions, The Mello-Kings, and The Supergirls Group- featuring members of The Exciters, The Cookies, The Jaynetts, The Hearts, The Raindrops, and Reparta & The Delrons. 

    Palisades Amusement Park was a legendary theme park, beloved by NJ/NY baby boomers until its closure in the 1970s and Cousin Brucie has been a DJ presence on New York area radio since the early 1960s. The event also included the 50s Forever Car Show, featuring vintage autos and trucks from the '40s, '50s and '60s.

    What may seem like a merely using nostalgia to attract a niche audience is actually an effective promotional tool. As Dorso pointed out, not only does Cousin Brucie still inspires a loyal following, "it brings about 1,800 people to the park, who normally wouldn't come to the fair. Yes, most of them are grandparents but guess what, they come with their grandkids and those kids ride the rides and spend."

    The show is broadcast on the radio, and "he repeats that show five times on the radio and over the 17 days of the fair, he is constantly promoting the fair. That is exposure we don't have to spend for."

    Vendor Mentoring

    The fair featured about 60 food vendors - although some have multiple stands - "if there's one food trend I've notice this year is bacon, bacon, bacon. Everything is wrapped in bacon," he said. "Corn dogs wrapped in bacon were very popular." 

    But sometimes presentation can be as important as the fair cuisine. At the last minute, a food stand had to drop out and instead of finding a new vendor, the existing vendor adjacent to the cancelled spot offered to rent the spot, but instead of bringing in another food preparation unit, the vendor extended the fence line and added tables. "I thought he was crazy, but his sales were up more than 30 percent," he said. "He was a smart guy."

    Food & Beverage sales were generally either the same or up compared to 2015, but Dorso said several food vendors had "their best fair ever, up about 25 percent."

    While many of the vendors renew their contracts, all agreements are only for a one year term. As what he describes as a courtesy, he always features about five or six local food vendors, which he describes as a "courtesy," to regional food vendors. But this local representation is both a proving and training ground. Vendors who want to come back, "have to upgrade. I tell them what they need, like signage, an awning, flags, pictures of the product. They have to be able to produce. They usually are not up to par, but they have a good product and did well enough to want to upgrade."

    But the idea is not just to do one state fair in the Meadowlands. "They will get a few spots on the fair circuit, and some of them can do very well, and that is nice to see. But you can't just go from the street fair to a state fair. I tell them they need to upgrade and what they have to do, and about only 5 percent do it and come back and go on to other big fairs. That's always nice to see, the vendors who aspire to do more. They go from a tent operation to a better tent operation to a professional trailer with great signage."  

  • Midway Millennials
    Midway Millennials is an ongoing series profiling the new generation of fair professionals

    James Dillman III is the 35 year old owner and operator of an independent dark ride called the Haunted House. Like all independent ride owners, Dillman is responsible for every aspect of his ride: maintenance, travel, set-up, tear-down, etc. As a millennial in the carnival industry, Dillman has seen considerable change in the business and works to add a modern twist to the long history of back end pieces and dark rides on the midway. 

    Historically, dark rides are considered back-end pieces just like fun houses and glass houses. Back-end pieces are labor intensive and require more maintenance and attention to detail than most other carnival rides require. Dillman cites the Zacchini family as the pioneers of the back-end piece industry; they built their own equipment and traveled around the country. Dillman states that owning and operating a back-end piece such as a dark ride, requires a particular expertise. Dillman' ride was manufactured by Hollingsworth in Sarasota, FL; he owns the 2nd to last one built by the company.The ride was bought from Bill Black in Washington state. Black customized his ride to increase  capacity and loaded it with tricks. The cars seat 4 people rather than the typical 2 and the ride consists of 11 tricks over 60 seconds. Dillman designs his ride to give customers a thrilling, fun experience; "I aim for a Disney's Haunted Mansion experience. I want riders to say 'That was pretty cool; I was entertained.' I don't want to terrify them."

    Dillman is no stranger to the carnival business; a third-generation carnival worker, he learned everything he knows from his concessionaire grandfather, Robert Patton, and his electrician father, James Dillman II. Both worked for Cumberland Valley Shows and his father worked for Strates Shows most of his career. Dillman recalls traveling with his family and working on the rides at a young age; "I remember being 7 years old and giving relief to the operator. People would say 'you're a little young to be running a ride!'" At the time, the Dillman family had a permanent home and the children would only travel with his father in the summer to enjoy family time and visit the different locales. Dillman and his sister began traveling full time after his graduation in 1999. In 1972, James' father left Strates Shows and began to buy his own rides and equipment in the 80s. In 2007, Dillman completely took over from his father. 

    Dillman has noticed considerable changes in the industry during his time working on midways. One of the most interesting developments has been the change from paper tickets and wristbands to electronic, barcode-bearing wristbands and tickets. Rides use a "gun" to scan the tickets and wristbands, providing a very accurate rider count. 

    Strates Shows utilizes one these new systems, the FunCard, and Dillman feels this is a positive change on midways, especially for independent ride owners. "With the barcode and electronic systems, emphasis is placed on the amount of people going through your ride and compensation is often based on the popularity of the ride. I can't imagine a fairer way of doing things," says Dillman. 

    In order to integrate technology into his own small business, Dillman has changed all of his safety and employee paperwork from hard copy to digital through google drive. He says it is a lot easier to keep track of everything and has worked well for him. 

    Additionally, Dillman is in the process of changing the lighting on his ride to LED and is modernizing the tricks inside the ride to have them operate electronically instead of mechanically. 

    When asked about his favorite part of the independent ride business, Dillman says he loves the travel and sightseeing and appreciates the history of the back-end piece and dark ride niche on the midway. Just like with any other small business, owning and operating an independent ride comes with its challenges. Dillman says it is crucial to manage money properly and only  cautiously spend. Even if the ride could use something new and there's money to spend, Dillman thinks about bunkhouse and traveling expenses as well as the balance of good and bad weeks on the road. Dillman mentions weather as a crucial factor to his ride's success; "It was a rough Spring, weather-wise, and you can't control the weather so I'm always thinking about what I'm taking in and what I'm spending." 

    Dillman's season started in Florida with Strates Shows, moving north to a new event in Myrtle Beach, before moving to NY to play three events with Fair Productions, operators of the Hudson valley Fair, the Brookhaven Fair over Memorial Day and the just-concluded Palisades Fair which took him through July 4th.  

    Dillman and his Haunted House dark ride will be playing the rest of their route with Strates Shows. He likes staying with Strates as he feels they are fair with their compensation for independents and work with him on placement of the ride; "Strates is a very good show to be around. You stick with one show when they're this great to work with." Dillman  and his Haunted House are headed next to the Orange County Fair , the Erie County Fair and the Champlain Valley Fair before heading south for Strates' southern route.

  • Del Mar Fairgoers Go Mad Over Longer Fair
    Saying that Tim Fennell, CEO, The San Diego County Fair, feels excited about the 2016 edition of this California tradition risks understatement. "It was the biggest fair we ever had, the highest revenue we ever had, the highest attendance," he said. "It was a great fair, and a very safe and secure fair."

    A total of 1,609,481 fairgoers - the highest attended San Diego County Fair ever - came through the gates between June 3 and July 4. The previous attendance record was set in 2012, with a total of 1,517,508 guests. The Fair was closed six days during that period, but this year the fair added an additional day, making it a 26-day event. 

    An attendance of 96,501 was achieved on Sunday, July 3, placing that date within the top four attendance dates in the fair's history.  

    Calendar Games
    When Fennell took the helm of the fair in the early 90s, the fair was 20 days, but across the decades the fair has been inching longer, day by day. With Independence Day falling on a Monday, it made calendar sense to be open on the last day of the long holiday weekend - the fair traditionally ends either on or after Independence Day.

    "It was a business decision just as it was a business decision to add days," he said. "We picked up an extra weekend and were closed during some weekdays."

    He said that the bargain - adding weekend always boosts business but being closed on weekdays during a month-long period means down days for vendors - was not universally received at first and he did receive flack. "But the weekends more than make up for it. You cannot just sit back and expect things to go the same every year. I knew the demand was out there - our numbers show the demand is out there."

    In addition, the regional economy seems slowly improving.

     "The economy is picking up, it's positive, but it is still not that great," he said. "People are working but they are not getting pay raises and the cost of living keeps rising. I think people are used it, and it is a new norm."

    Even if the economic climate is more positive this year than last year while not as positive as it should be, families still appreciate the value of the fair. "Where else can you get the entertainment we have a fair for a $12 admission fee? We have 10 stages of entertainment, and all the food and rides, exhibits. That's why we got 1.6 million this year, but a better economy helped. Still, going to the San Diego County Fair is a much better value and cheaper than going  to the movies.  Plus we offered a variety of discounts and passes, which increases the attendance and makes the fair available to more families."

    Midway Increase
    Typically the fair contracts with about 13 ride companies for its midway, from operators large and small. But adding days and eliminating slower weekdays, extending the length of the fair, Fennell said was generally well received by the ride companies. "They want people on their rides, so taking away a dead day and adding another weekend is worth it to them," he said. "No one complained about their routing."

    But who can complain with success? He said the midway revenue increased 4.3 percent, reaching $10.8 million. The top 10 grossing rides at the San Diego County Fair were Crazy Mouse; Skyride; Grand Wheel; Fast Trax Mega Slide; G-Force; Olympic Bobs; Magnum, Carousel; Sky Flyer and Alien Abduction.

    A 26 day fair is the longest fair in the history of the San Diego event, which dates back to 1880. Since it also the highest attended, Fennell estimation of the demand proved realistic, not merely optimistic. Does the success of the 2016 edition of the fair mean longer fairs in the future? "Could be," is all Fennell would allow. "Stay tuned." 

    Fennell described the 2016 San Diego County Fair was a "very well balanced fair, we had 85 rides, tremendous exhibits, more than 100 food exhibits and more than 500 commercial vendors. We had a great team to put on the fair and a great marketing theme."

    Go Ask Alice
    Perhaps his enthusiastic recap of the fair can be seen as a self-fulling prophecy based on theme - "Mad About The Fair." This clever theme tied two overlapping images - Alice in Wonderland and Steam Punk.  This very original idea was developed internally. "It came about through team work, we asked our team what would be a good theme for next year, and key people in our exhibit department made a proposal."

    Of course Alice in Wonderland is based on the Victorian era children's novel - "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - that is also beloved by adults; Steam Punk is a general fashion and arts movement that combines Victorian era fashion and technology, but within a science fiction context - steam powered robots for example. Steam Punk is a popular concept used in video games, movies, televisions, comic books and novels. What seems astute about this very imaginative marketing hook is that it is based on a sentiment all fairs share: nostalgia.

    Fennell admits he was skeptical at first, having never heard of steam punk. "I did some homework, and even went to a Steam Punk convention in Reno," said Fennel. "We were able to expand it, and there were a lot of associations in the fair already. And it looked great, so we put steam punk in our merchandise, themed our entrance, we had tea parties, did give always for people who dressed up in costumes. It brought in young people, but it also brought in middle age people as well. It was very successful."

    The fair increased its marketing budget by under 5 percent, said Fennell, with a great shift away from print. "The reality is, less and less people are reading newspaper or watching TV, so we are shifting our marketing dollars away from old media to more new school media. We try to stop on trends and this year, we are really expanded the social media, which worked in great with our Steam Punk theme."

    Unfortunately an online presence can be lost amid the rapid pace of the internet, and Fennell said the fair did shift more dollars towards outdoor advertising. "We did more billboards and wrapped more buses this year, that medium we have expanded."  

    The scope of the marketing reach also expanded, not only to other California counties, such as Los Angeles, but to Nevada, especially Last Vegas, and even Arizona. "We are getting more people traveling to the fair," he said. "We have even gone international."

    By international he means our neighbor to the south, Mexico. "We market into Tijuana and Northern Mexico," he said. "We have a large Hispanic population here, and a many families visit us from Mexico. Most of our marketing is bilingual, and we have an English version and an Hispanic version, which use across the border." 
    The fair also features two Hispanic nights with Spanish language faves: Los Tigres Del Norte and Los Tucanes de Tijuana. 

    Harder Booking 
    San Diego was able to get a remarkable lineup of headline entertainment ranging Lady Antebellum, which Fennell  said was probably the best draw, to country stalwart Kenny Rogers who saying Farwell to his fans with his Final World Tour: The Gambler's Last Deal.  Other acts included Switchfoot,  Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Michael McDonald, 3 Doors Down, Grand Funk Railroad, Hailee Steinfeld,  and Brian Wilson. The fair also hosted its 12th Annual Gospel Festival, which featured Gospel music legend, Shirley Caesar. 

    Booking headline entertainment for the San Diego County Fair had never been more challenging than it was last year and Fennell does not see an improved scenario for next year. "It's very, very competitive," he said. "We have more music festivals and casinos. The casinos don't have to worry about making money on the concerts, they make their money on more people playing the slot machines. It is more difficult. A lot of acts that always came to fairs are getting eaten up the competition

    As a result, the fair increased its budget by 8 percent, but the booking department is scrambling harder to get a fair deal. "In my opinion, the risk fairs face is to overpay for acts. We have a narrow window, only 26 days and we really have to do our homework."

    Fennell said the fair will not follow a path similar to other fairs, of saving costs by cutting back or even eliminating headline entertainment. "Headline entertainment is an important part of our programming, so we will continue to find the best acts for our fair, and try to bring them to San Diego. We are committed to name entertainment for our fairgoers."

    Will booking be easier for next year's fair? 

    "No, I do not see the situation changing any time soon," said Fennell. "What we do is continuing to book the fair earlier and earlier. Typically we were looking at acts during the meetings of the International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE) in December, but now we are starting before that, at least by September. It is getting earlier every year." 

    Food Trends
    Food & Beverage spending was $23 million, up 11 percent. Some of fun food stats the fair releases:   Dixie's Donuts fried more than 188,000 mini donuts; Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls used 15,000 pounds of cinnamon roll flour, and three tons of cinnamon and sugar; 500 pounds of organic coffee flavored with 52 cases of vanilla and hazelnut creamer, were served; Pink's sold more than 20,800 hot dogs. Bacon-A-Fair used more than 21,000 pounds of bacon; Pignotti's sold ,more than 1,000 Pasta Salad Bread Bowls, and 1,500 Lasagna Sandwiches; Candy Factory went through two tons of ice for the Mad Hatter Monster Shaved Ice Crazy Cone; and Chicken Charlie's sold 10,000 "Chicken in the Waffle on A Stick," 2,000 orders of Shrimp Fried Rice and 7,000 pounds of Kool-Aid Hot Wings. Juicy's sold more than 75,000 of their new all-natural, hormone free hamburgers - the "All American Bacon Cheeseburger," and the "Western Burger."

    Even though attendance was up, the increase in food - higher than both attendance and other indicators, such as midway rides - indicates that "people were staying longer at the fair," said Fennell. 

    Fair cuisine can often be considered fattening, and while the fair promoter in him likes to say to "people who are counting their calories that fair food calories don't count," he did see a new fair food trend in 2016.

    "Fair food is fun, but I did notice one trend, that there was more healthy food items among all the fair foods," he said. "I did see more grilled chicken for instance, amid all the fried chicken. The vendors are offering healthier dishes, even vegan dishes, to people. People are eating healthier, so that might be part of that trend. I did notice this and it will be interesting to see if this is true at other fairs this year." 

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The Industry Buzz
Tara Pugh passes - updated 7/18
It is with great sadness to report the passing of Tara Pugh. 

Pugh, Tara Michelle 36, of Lithia, made her final jump to be with the Lord on July 12, 2016.

Tara was a devoted wife, mother, daughter, aunt, niece, cousin and friend. Born in New Castle, IN, raised in Gibsonton, FL before moving to Lithia. Tara spent her childhood with family on the road, traveling with the Amusement Industry. Nothing much changed as she grew into adulthood and met and married the love of her life. Together, they built Pugh Concessions and continued to travel, spending the majority of their time with Reithoffer Shows, Inc. Tara is preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Forrest (Ace) and Nancy Mathews.

She is survived by her loving husband, Robert (Beau) Pugh; sons, Clark and Parker; Mother, Carla (Dick - deceased) Rigby; father, Coy Heatherly Jr. ; grandmother, Barbara (Jim) Evans; brother, Coy Max Heatherly; step-brothers, Rande (Joelle) Rigby; Robby (Tish) Rigby; aunt, Teresa (Al) Rimes; uncle, Jeff (Jeanie) Mathews; in-laws, Robert "Bobby" (Debbie) Pugh; Cheri Pugh; Lori (Doug) Dills; as well as

many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Tara was remembered most by the big beautiful smile always displayed on her face. Her main devotion in life was to make her "three boys" happy. She loved and lived life to the fullest. She loved to entertain and plan elaborately decorated events. She enjoyed boating and traveling. She was passionately committed to her family and she had an unwavering love for her business. Tara was a gold card member of the International Independent Showmen's Association and a past First Lady.

Services will be held as follows:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Serenity Meadows
6919 Providence Road, Riverview, FL  33578  

Visitation will be held from 10:30 am to 1 pm with the funeral service beginning at 1pm.

Flowers are appreciated .. Tara Loved Flowers!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tara's family and friends.
  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 7/13/2016
Wade Shows adds first portable Street Fighter Revolution in US
Wade Shows CEO, Frank Zaitshik announced the purchase of yet another new ride for the 2016 season, a Street Fighter Revolution from Technical Park.  The Street Fighter Revolution is in similar design to the traditional Street Fighter, but it makes a complete 360 degree loop upside down.  The show purchased a used Street Fighter from a showman overseas and Technical Park will be converting it to the looping model at their Italy based facility.  While several Street Fighter Revolution models have been sold to piers and small amusement parks in the US, Wade's Street Fighter Revolution is the first portable version to be owned by a US based Carnival.

The Street Fighter Revolution joins a long list of purchases made by Wade Shows for the 2016 season - totaling over $5 million.  Earlier, Wade Shows announced the purchase of a 45 meter Giant Wheel in partnership with Wood Entertainment.  The Show also added a Zero Gravity from Battech, a Puppy Roll from Featherston, a Dumbo ride from Kolmax-Plus, and a used Jungle Twist coaster.  The show also is having its Zipper re-manufactured by Chance Rides, which will be like new and feature the manufacturers new open air tub design.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 4/25/2016
Chance Rides President, Mike Chance, passes
Statement from Dick Chance, CEO Chance Rides and father:

"Yesterday our family and company suffered a tremendous loss. Our son and company president Mike Chance lost his long‐term and well‐fought battle with depression. Mike had suffered from this tough disease for years and had faithfully sought treatment and relief from its effects. Like any other disease that is not yet well understood, depression is often difficult to successfully treat.  

We are proud of Mike for bravely fighting this disease for years while living a full and rich life as a wonderful husband and father, son, grandson, brother, friend and a great company leader. He was a triathlete who competed alongside friends in Iron Man triathlons across the country.  

Mike valiantly fought this disease while focusing on doing great work together with our employees so the fact that he had this disease will come as a surprise to many who knew him.  Just as with other diseases that take our loved ones too early, our family's hope is that research into the treatment for depression will advance. And that those seeking relief from this disease will find a path to successful treatment."

Mike Chance died Tuesday, April 19 at age 42. Service arrangements and memorials are pending. Chance Rides announced the news to employees this morning and is offering ongoing grief counseling for its 100 employees. 

A celebration of Mike's life will be held Wednesday, April 27, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church 1550 N. Chapel Hill Drive, Wichita, KS 67206. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the following organizations:  
KidzCope, 9415 E. Harry, Suite 501, Wichita, KS 67207
Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, 555 N. Woodlawn, Suite 3105, Wichita, KS 67208.    

  Posted by Dick Chance Press Release on 4/20/2016
Wisdom Rides Walter Williams passes
Long time Wisdom Rides parts department supervisor, Walter Williams passed away peacefully at his home on Friday, April 8, 2016.  

He lived his youth all over the world as an "Army Brat". It was a life he loved and one that led him to join the United States Air Force on his 17th birthday. He served 8 years, being stationed in the U.S. and Korea. He was a part of the effort in shipping of all ammunition at Kunsan Air Base to the Vietnam War. While a member of the Air Force, he also received numerous citations for various services. He was honorably discharged in December of 1967. He was then employed at Coors Brewery in Golden until he was forced to resign after developing asthma which rendered him allergic to the hops. He and his family the moved to Sterling, where he worked for Evans Railcar until its plant closed. In December of 1987, he went to work at Wisdom Manufacturing where he worked in purchasing and selling until his death. He loved his work.

Visitation will be from 4 pm to 6:30 pm Tuesday, April 12 at Tennant Funeral Home in Sterling, Colorado. Vigil and Rosary evening service will follow at 7 pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:00 am Wednesday, April 13 at St. Anthony's Catholic Church with Father Michael Bodzioch celebrating.
  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 4/11/2016
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.



TYAUT Designs - Lap Bar Refurbishment & Grip Bars

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