2.3.11 Midway Talk
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On Wednesday, February 2, the television series, Deep Fried premiered on the Travel Channel. The one-hour special is centered on Chicken Charlie and his staff at the Big Fresno Fair. Chicken Charlie is the inventor of the deep-fried Oreo and is well known on the midway. Chicken Charlie’s concession trailer built by Hitch-Hiker Mfg. is featured in the show.
A host of new food items premiered at the 2011 Florida State Fair, February 10 – 21. Fairgoers were offered Deep-Fried Mashed Potatoes On A Stick, Grilled Meatloaf Sundaes, Maple-Bacon Cupcakes, French Toast Burgers, Ice Cream Burgers, and Velvet Funnel Cakes. The Ice Cream Burger consists of a cheeseburger stuffed with fried ice cream. Among the 106 rides on the independent midway are the Daytona Kiddie Ride and Deggeller Attractions Comet Roller Coaster, Riptide. A complete article on the Florida State Fair will appear in next month’s issue.Billy Clark of Smokey Mountain Amusements told Carnival Magazine that he has re-signed all of his carnival’s fair contracts for 2011. Smokey Mountain Amusements has also re-signed the Drexel Community Fair in North Carolina after a three year absence. In winter quarters, Smokey Mountain Amusements is busy refurbishing rides including their Steeplechase and Tilt-A-Whirl. The two refurbished rides will re-join the carnival’s ride line-up in 2011.
From the New York Fair Convention: Bob Grems, Manager Dutchess Co Fair ran a workshop entitled, "Changes that Work for Your Fair." He promoted advance sale of ride and admission tickets as well as a food discount program he introduced at Dutchess Co. $10 of food tickets were available for $8 before the fair. The fair absorbed $1 and food vendors absorbed the other $1. All food vendors must participate in the program for it to work. They sold a Family Funpack that had gate tickets, ride tickets and food tickets. The Big E in Massachusetts is trying a similar food program. Grems also suggested ways to accept credit cards at the gate to keep cash in customers’ hands to spend with vendors. A corporate sponsorship program sends underprivileged children to the fair and gets publicity for the sponsors. Some smaller fairs in NY have been successful by switching to a free gate. Examples are Oswego Co at Sandy Creek, Lewis Co at Lowville and St Lawrence Co at Gouverneur.
Labor costs remain an issue in NY. The State continues to enforce OT for more than 40 hours per week. NY does not recognize the federal fair labor Standards Act which makes exceptions to the OT rules for seasonal businesses. The NY State Assoc. of Agricultural Fairs, OABA and NY State Showpeople's Assoc. are working with 2 lobbyists to try to get the NY practice changed.
A NY State Amusement Industry Recreation Political Action Committee [NYS AIR PAC] has been formed to support politicians who share common interests with the fair and carnival industry. Read this month’s article on January’s fair conventions for more information.
Family Attractions of Valdosta, Georgia has been selected to provide the midway for the 2011 Union County Fair in Union, South Carolina.· The fair dates back tom 1908 and is held in mid-October.· The midway will consist of at least 35 rides. Family Attractions is owned by Dominic Macaroni.
It was announced in a press release from the National Independent Concessionaires Association (NICA) that Dave Schlabach has stepped down as President/CEO due to personal reasons and management issues. The organization commended the work of Dave as they prepared for the upcoming Western Fairs Association Convention and the February NICA Business Expo & Foods Show in Tampa, Florida
In circus news, Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment (producer of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus) has announced that his daughters are now co-producers of the circus. Hi two eldest daughters—Nicole and Alana—will produce the show while his youngest daughter—Juliette—will fulfil the role of director of strategic planning.
Superior Carnival based in Clarence, Iowa has been selected as the 2011 midway provider for the Allamakee County Fair in Iowa. Dates for the event have been shifted from July 6 – 10 to July 20 – 24. Indianhead Amusements was the previous midway provider.
Sustainival, a new carnival company based in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) launched at their first event, the Freezing Man Festival. The Edmonton event was held January 29. Sustainival is an earth-friendly company with sustainability and the core of their business plan. Among their green efforts, all of the carnival’s rides run on vegetable oil. Among the rides are a Ferris Wheel, Gravitron, and Zipper. Sustainival was founded by Joey Hundert.
The Reno Gazette reports that the Nevada State Fair is facing financial difficulties and runs the risk of cancelling the event. The Nevada State Fair has been held for 136 years. The fair is now seeking alternative forms of funding in order to remain in operation. State fair executive director, Rich Crombie told the paper, “If we don’t fix the situation were in, in all likelihood there won’t be a fair.”
A recent study found the Colorado State Fair has a strong, positive impact on the state’s income. According to the study, the eleven-day event brings in $20.1 million for the City of Lakewood; $21 million for Pueblo County; and $29 million at the state level. The study examined profits from the State Fair only as opposed to including events held on the fairgrounds throughout the year. As reported in the Pueblo Chieftain, “The Fair commissioned the $20,000 study, which was done by the Incents Group.”
The Minnesota State Fair has been awarded six-million dollars for improvements and maintenance projects on the state’s fairgrounds. Among the planned work on the 320-acre fairgrounds are new buildings, restrooms, and a host of maintenance projects. The funding was made possible through Minnesota State Fair grants and State Fair operating income. The projects were approved in January at an annual meeting. At the meeting, Denny Baker was re-elected to a one-year term as president of the State Fair. Inducted into the Minnesota State Fair Hall of Fame were Steve Pooch and Karen Leach.
At the Virginia Association of Fair Convention, held January 7 – 8 in Hot Springs, VA, Deggeller Attractions re-signed the Rockingham County Fair in Harrisonburg, VA (August 15 – 20) for three more years. The carnival also signed contracts to provide the midway at the Madison County Fair (July 12 – 16) and the Augusta County Fair (August 9 – 16). The two Virginia fairs are only fifty miles apart. Later in January, it was also announced that Deggeller Attractions acquired the contract for the York Fair in York, Pennsylvania. Deggeller Attractions will expand the fair’s midway in 2011, providing their Wild Cat Coaster (Riptide).