Midway Talk, October Issue
Tragedy struck at the Indiana State Fair on the evening of Saturday, August 13. A quick moving storm with extreme winds caused the blow down of the event’s grandstand stage rigging. Roughly 12,000 people were in attendance awaiting a performance from Sugarland when the 70 mph winds struck. Over 40 people were injured, some of which are still hospitalized. As of the end of August, seven individuals have died as a result of the accident. The fair closed on Sunday, August 14 and reopened on Monday, August 15 with a memorial service in honor of the victims of Saturday’s horrific accident.
The storm’s wind surge that passed through the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ grandstand area was relatively isolated. Little damage was witnessed on other parts of the grounds including the midway. North American Midway Entertainment is the midway provider for the Indiana State Fair. N.A.M.E. President Danny Huston released a statement on Sunday, August 14. “The management and staff of North American Midway Entertainment wish to express their heartfelt condolences to those who lost loved ones and to those who have loved ones being treated for injuries following last night’s tragic accident at the stage collapse at the grandstand…We are praying for their healing and are keeping them in our hearts.”
N.A.M.E. staff members remained on hand while the fair was closed on Sunday, August 14 to assist in any way possible. According to Danny, “There were no reported injuries on the midway or from any North American Midway Entertainment employees or customers.”
The provider of the stage construction at the Indiana State Fair was Mid-America Sound of Greenfield, Indiana. N.A.M.E. has no affiliation with the company and was not involved with the grandstand entertainment or stage construction in any way.
Spieth and Satow Auctions, Inc. is pleased to announce the acquisition of Norton Auctioneers of Michigan, Inc., as of Tuesday, August 23, 2011. Darin Spieth and Dan Satow are excited about the acquisition and look forward to this new opportunity. Both Spieth and Satow have over 55 years of combined experience in the auction business. They both worked in the Norton environment earlier in their careers. “We are excited about the acquisition and look forward to carrying on the Norton legacy with a great amount of renewed energy and enthusiasm,” according to Spieth. Norton is known for the auction and appraisal of amusement properties. Norton of Michigan will remain the moniker.
Gold Medal Products Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio has just released a new Dual Chili Cheese Machine for nachos, hot dogs, and more. The compact 15” W x 17” D machine serves up both chili and cheese toppings and allows concessionaires to serve one bag of cheese while another preheats. The machine holds two, 14-oz. bags on each side and runs on a standard 15-amp plug. Find out more at www.gmpopcorn.com.
Jeff and Holly Swartz of Hitch-Hiker Mfg. in New Middletown, Ohio travelled to California’s Sacramento State Fair and the Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock, CA to visit with a number of their customers. On their trip they saw Tom Stroud of Stroud Entertainment, Milo Franks of Milo Entertainment, and from Butler Amusements: owner Butch Butler, Mick and Kris Brajevick as well as Jill and Lance Moyer. Hitch-Hiker is currently building a concession unit for an independent operator in California. More on the new concession in the coming months.
Preliminary estimates indicate that attendance was up at the 2011 Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, KY. The fair ran from August 19 through August 28. North American Midway Entertainment provided the midway, offering more rides along the midway than last year’s edition. Popular food items included the new deep-fried Kool-Aid and deep-fried Derby Pie.
Two tractor-trailers owned by Reithoffer Shows were involved in a head-on collision on Tuesday, August 23. Both trailer loads were part of setup for the Champlain Valley Fair in Essex Junction, Vermont. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured and relatively minor damage was reported. The shows’ recently refurbished Yo-Yo was turned over on its trailer, but should be up and running soon.
Davis Enterprises of Fontana, CA provided the midway for the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden, Washington, August 15 – 20. This year marked an expanded midway that included a Drop Tower and Casino for the first time as well as the return of a Chance Zipper after an absence of the ride in recent years. The overall event was a success despite an instance of gang-related violence on the fairgrounds. Total attendance reached 219,292—up 1.3 percent from 2010. Saturday, August 27 saw a single-day attendance hit 43,138.
A powerful storm ripped through the Missouri State Fairgrounds in the early morning of Friday, August 19. The storm occurred during the eleven-day State Fair. The storm knocked out power and damaged several attractions on the midway including the back wall of Wade Shows’ Enterprise and Lowery Carnival’s Mardi Gras. The fair postponed Friday’s opening until 3:00 p.m. once debris was cleaned up and power restored.
The debut of Dartron’s new attraction, The Rave, went according to schedule at the Minnesota State Fair, August 5 – September 5. The ride is owned by Playworld Amusements’ Kyle Brady. According to Albert Frieden of Dartron, the ride will receive some minor adjustments to its painting scheme in the near future. Kyle also added a television monitor to the ride to allow fairgoers passing by to see riders inside the ride. A full report on The Rave coming soon.
IAFE is gearing up for their annual convention and trade show held November 28 – December 1 in Las Vegas. Preliminary programming information is available at the IAFE website, www.fairsandexpos.com. The event will take place at the Paris Hotel.
OABA is now accepting applications for 2012 Directors and Hall of Fame nominations. Forms for nominations and applications are available at www.oaba.org or through the OABA office at 800-517-6222.
A new book by Les Bodnar entitled “Carnie” is now available through St. Augustine’s Press. The book is about carnival life before the Great Depression. The story is a memoir of Les’ time with his father’s carnival when he was a child. You may purchase the book from www.staugustine.net. It is also available through Amazon.com.
Attendance at the Montana State Fair was 9.1 percent higher than 2010. The 80th edition of the fair was held July 29 – August 6 in Great Falls, MT. The midway was provided by Mighty Thomas Carnival of Austin, Texas.
The Iowa State Fair in Des Moines was pleased with high attendance in 2011. A total of 1.08 million people visited the 2011 State Fair, second only to 2008’s 1.1 million. The fair was held August 11 – 21. Belle City Amusements of Deltona, FL provided the midway which was comprised of 33-plus rides. Rides included a Giant Wheel, Sky Wheel, Rock N Roll Himalaya, Drop Zone, Nitro, and Typhoon. Grandstand acts included Janet Jackson, Reba, Doobie Brothers, Def Leppard, Train, and Maroon 5. In response to violence at the fair in 2010, the Iowa State Fair enhanced their security in 2011. Fair officials implemented more state troopers inside the fairgrounds and Des Moines police outside the grounds. Visibility of the forces was heightened and more surveillance cameras were setup. Finally, community leaders were also a part of the successful efforts, patrolling the fairgrounds for suspicious behavior.
Opening weekend of the Colorado State Fair outdid last year’s opening days by over 12,447, hosting 36,833 on August 26 – 28. Saturday, August 27 was the highest attended of the three days with 69,135 in attendance compared to 59,136 on Day 2 in 2010. The Colorado State Fair is held in Pueblo, CO and runs from August 26 – September 5. Crabtree Amusements of Staples, TX provided the midway. This is their fourth year as midway provider.
The 2011 Richland County Fair in Mansfield, Ohio saw a twenty percent increase in attendance compared to 2010. The fair was held August 7 – 13 and was blessed with pleasant weather. Bates Brothers Amusement Company of Wintersville, OH provided the midway. According to the Mansfield News Journal, ride gross amounted $119,000 with $27,000 coming in on Saturday, August 13. Unlimited ride wristbands were available for $15.00.
Hurricane Irene affected carnivals and industry-related business across the East Coast on the weekend of August 27 – 28. The storm travelled along the coast from the Carolinas up into New England. Powers Great American Midways was forced to close the midway at the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, New York early in order to avoid the storm. Ticket Manufacturer, Worldwide Ticketcraft suffered damage at their New York office. Other fairs that altered their schedules due to the storm include the Maryland State Fair and the Windsor Fair in Windsor Maine.
Statement from Danny Huston regarding the Indiana State Fair
From Sunday, August 14, 2011-
The following is a statement from Danny Huston, president of North American Midway Entertainment (N.A.M.E.), based in Farmland, Indiana. N.A.M.E. is the Midway provider at the Indiana State Fair.
The management and staff of North American Midway Entertainment wish to express their heartfelt condolences to those who lost loved ones and to those who have loved ones being treated for injuries following last night's tragic accident at the stage collapse at the grandstand.
We have conducted a thorough assessment of our midway rides and area.
There were no reported injuries on the Midway or from any North American Midway Entertainment employees or customers.
A few banners were blown loose and that appears to be the extent of the damage we received at the Midway.
Even though the Indiana State Fair is closed today, many staff will remain on site to to be available to offer any assistance other state fair departments or areas might need.
Again, our concern is with those who are hurting today.
We are praying for their healing and are keeping them in our hearts.
President of North American Midway Entertainment (N.A.M.E.)
Midway Talk, September Issue
The 2011 North Dakota State Fair has been cancelled due to severe flooding from the Mouse (Souris) River in Minot, ND. The annual event was slated for July 22 – 30 with an all-star entertainment lineup and midway provided by Murphy Brothers Expositions and Reed Exposition. While floodwaters were no longer rising they had already affected the state fairgrounds and were receding at a slower pace than expected. Murphy Brothers Expositions provided a midway in Fargo, ND at the FargoDome parking lot in place of the State Fair. The carnival will donate a portion of their proceeds from the Fargo event to help with flood relief. Similarly, Reed Exposition will provide a midway in Bismarck, ND and also donate a part of the proceeds to flood relief in Minot. The North Dakota State Fair is already planning for the comeback year in 2012.
More than 147,000 fairgoers attended this year’s Santa Barbara County Fair in Santa Maria, California. The fair ran from July 13 – July 17 at the Santa Maria Fairpark. The exact number of attendees was 147,363, which is 17 percent higher than 2010’s number of 126,173. The previous record was set in 2009 when attendance reached 133,200. Opening day, Wednesday, July 13 was the busiest with 47,000 on hand for Dollar Day (both gate admission and carnival rides were $1.00). This year’s theme was Bright Lights, Magical Nights and featured main stage acts: Clint Black, Boyz II Men, and Rick Springfield. This was the 120th year for the Santa Barbara County Fair. The midway was provided by Helms & Sons of Colton, CA.
Preliminary numbers from the 2011 California State Fair are positive across the board. According to newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, as of Friday, July 22, paid attendance increased by 17 percent compared to last year. The Bee also reported a 33 percent increase in spending on the midway as well as food and drink concessions up by 24 percent. The California State Fair ran from July 14 – 31. Butler Amusements provided the midway, which offered 68 rides.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the Illinois State Fair’s permanent Giant Slide has been sold to an undisclosed buyer. The 40-foot tall, 130-foot long attraction has been on the fairgrounds since 1968. The most recent owner of the slide was Dennis Herrington who purchased it in 1995. The new owner plans to keep the Giant Slide in operation at the Illinois State Fair.
World’s Finest Shows of Ontario will provide the midway for the first Midway Magic event in Ottawa. The event is replacing Ottawa’s SuperEX, which had been held in Lansdowne Park since 1888. SuperEX was cancelled due to funding and redevelopment of the surrounding land. Magic Midway is being organized by Joe Pavia, a former member of SuperEX. World’s Finest Shows had provided the midway for SuperEX for the past 14 years. The new event will feature rides, games, a petting zoo, food concessions, and music entertainment. Admission is free and ride specials are available prior to opening day, August 19. The event will run through August 28. New rides for World’s Finest Shows this season include a Musik Express and Wacky Worm Coaster.
Roger Wadkins of Sherwood Amusements in Upper Falls, Maryland reports they have just finished rebuilding their Paratrooper. The refurbished ride includes all new LED lighting. Roger indicated that their season was beginning to pick up steam after being affected by a wet spring.
Josh Kinley of Strates Shows informed Carnival Magazine that the carnival purchased four passenger cars. They were acquired from the Northeastern New York Railroad Preservation Group this year.
The Oakland County Fair in Davisburg, MI set a new attendance record in 2011 with 95,000 patrons. The fair took place Tuesday, July 12 – Sunday, July 17. Playworld Amusements of Alma, MI provided the midway. “The fair and carnival worked together to provide a greener midway including using a mix of soy bio-diesel in our generators,” says Kyle Brady of Playworld Amusements. Many of the rides along the midway had a fresh paint scheme and new LED lighting, which added a different look from last year’s event. According to Kyle, the most popular rides at this year’s fair were the Mulligan Wheel fitted with MAXTRON color changing LED’s; the Fabbri G-Force, and the KMG Freak Out. It was a pay-one-price midway with POP ranging from $12 to $20 depending on daily promotions. As part of the fair, Playworld Amusements participated in a Special Needs Day. Playworld Amusements reports that the season has been going well and been very encouraging when the weather is good. High fuel prices have been a challenge, but the transition to bio-diesel helped at the Oakland County Fair. The carnival’s newest attraction, “The Rave” is set to debut at this year’s Minnesota State Fair.
Cody Casper of PBJ Happee Day Shows updated Carnival Magazine on the carnival’s season. Cody reports that the season has been positive, particularly after a rainy spring. PBJ had a huge scare earlier this year when the Mississippi River crested higher than it had in nearly 100 years due to flooding. “With our winter quarters only a few miles into Arkansas it was a little exciting keeping an eye on the levee system,” says Cody. “Word was if the levee broke there would be five-feet of water covering the town. We stuck it out and all prevailed thanks to the core of engineers.” Cody also reports that two purchases in recent years—the KMG Nemesis and Owen Monkey Maze—are doing great on the midway. They are currently in the market for a new attraction, but are unsure what the ride will be. They plan on deciding before next spring.
N.A.M.E. reported a 25 percent increase in attendance compared to 2010 at the 2011 Red River Ex in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The number broke the existing record set in 1997. N.A.M.E. also broke a record at this year’s Manitoba Summer Fair in Brandon, MB and was up in attendance at the Calgary Stampede by over 29,000 fairgoers. Stateside, N.A.M.E. faced bad weather at the 40th annual St. Mary Polish Country Fair in Orchard Lake, MI. Severe weather led to the issuing of a tornado warning during the fair. “Approximately 10,000 fairgoers and employees were evacuated, most of those going to the ice arena on the campus,” according to N.A.M.E. “All of the rides re-opened safely one hour after the storm passed.”
Also from N.A.M.E., “The Tennessee State Fair has been revived by the newly formed Tennessee State Fair Association (TSFA).” N.A.M.E. and Rockhouse Partners produced the event in 2010. Davidson County’s local government produced the event prior to 2010. The TSFA is composed of State agricultural leaders and prominent business people from around the State. According to N.A.M.E., “the fair will remain at the traditional Tennessee State Fairgrounds through 2012, while the TSFA searches for a site in the Nashville area for fairs beginning in 2013.” This year’s theme is “Long Live the Fair.” Dates in 2011 are September 9 – 19.
Lowery Carnival Co. of Gulf Shores, Alabama and the Boone County Fair in Columbia, Missouri offered a pay-one-price option at this year’s event, July 22 – 30. This was the first time POP was offered at the event. Daily passes that included gate admission, access to grandstand acts, and unlimited rides were available for $20. A week-long super-saver pass was $50. The carnival told Jodie Jackson Jr. of the Columbia Daily Tribune that “more fairs and carnivals are moving to the one-price approach. ‘People like it. We like it.’”
Dates for the IISF Trade Show and Extravaganza have been set for 2012. The Gibtown event will run from Tuesday, February 7 through Saturday, February 11. The Trade Show Kick-Off Party is slated for Sunday, February 5 followed by the 4th Annual Big Hearted Jerry Memorial Golf Tournament on Monday, February 6. The installation of next year’s IISA Officers will follow the trade show on Tuesday, February 14. You may contact Trade Show Secretary, Teresa L. Rimes for more information on the event and advertising opportunities in the Trade Show Directory.
Carnival Magazine learned sadly that Otto L. Pfeffer passed away on July 8. Otto was owner and operator of Otto's Amusements since 1956. As described in his obituary, "He was an industry icon and devoted his entire lifetime to his business." Otto was a charter member of the PA State Showman's Association as well as a past director and past president. He was also a member of the Greater Tampa Showman's Association, the Miami Showman's Club, and the Outdoor Amusement Business Association. We express our deepest condolences to Otto's family and all at Otto's Amusements. ■
Midway Talk from July 2011 Issue
Dennis Guthrie of Orlando, FL passed away on Saturday, June 4. Dennis was in the business for nearly 50 years. According to Darrell Desgranges who worked with Dennis with Deggeller Attractions, he began as a concessionaire and later owned a Bumper Car Ride. In addition to Deggeller Attractions, Dennis worked with Crown Amusements, and Pugh Shows. Along with his Brothers Pat and Ray Guthrie, Dennis produced the Atlanta Fair. Dennis is survived by his daughter, Frances Guthrie and son, also named Dennis who is a food concessionaire in Seattle. A memorial service will be held this summer in Kentucky.
Peter Joseph of Jolly Shows reports that he is positive about the season despite wet weather at late spring/early summer events. The Annapolis-based carnival refurbished their Zipper, Dragon Wagon, and Bear Affair this past winter quarters. In recent years, many of their early season
spots have been on the uptick, especially their shopping mall locations in 2009 and 2010. Weather looked to be improving
for upcoming events in Petersburg, VA and Chesapeake Bay, VA. Jolly Shows provides midways in Maryland and Virginia.
Billy Clark of Smokey Mountain Amusements, Robbinsville, NC has resigned the Iredell County Fair in North Carolina to a five-year
contract. Also on a new five-year contract is the Stokes County Fair in King, NC. Smokey Mountain Amusements also resigned the Caldwell County Fair in Lenoir, NC to a 3-year contract. Billy Clarke also reports that their new Wacky Worm is doing well on the midway.
In June press release, Prairie Financial, Inc. announced that Boulevard Bank and purchased the assets of Prairie Financial. Boulevard Bank is a community bank with services primarily in Neosho and St. Louis, Missouri. Prairie Financial’s employees (now employees
of Boulevard Bank), processes, and guiding principles will remain intact, but will now have the backing of Boulevard Bank’s added support and resources. The newly combined operations will allow Prairie Financial to continue to meet the Outdoor Amusement industry’s needs
with greater timeliness, sophistication, and stability. “We have worked with Boulevard Bank over the past six years to meet our customers’ specialized capital needs,” said Paul Muller, Founder of Prairie Financial. “In that time, the relationship between our two companies has
strengthened as we collaborate on behalf of our evolving customer base.” Prairie Financial will continue to be based in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and can be reached at (816) 554-3863.
John Owens of OABA reports that the organization’s Senior Vice President, Al De Rusha, is hosting two upcoming Jammin’ Jamborees. The first will be August 12 with McDonagh’s Amusements in Armada, MI. Second up is August 31 in Bethany, MO with Toby’s Carnival.
In July, Al De Rusha hosted Jammin’ Jamborees with S&S Amusements in Pottstown, PA (July 7) and A Fantasy Amusement Company in St. Charles, IL (July19). You can schedule a Jammin’ Jamboree by calling Al at 952-736-0896.
The IAFE has announced the keynote speaker lineup for their 2011 annual convention. Mark Scharenbroich
of Nice Bike: Making Meaningful Connections on the Road OF Life will be Monday’s speaker. On Wednesday, Joel Manby, CEO of Herschend Family Corp will present. Steve Schussler, CEO of Schussler Creative Institute and creator of Rainforest Café will cap of the presentations as
Thursday’s Keynote Speaker. The IAFE Convention will take place on November 28 – December 1, 2011.
J.C. Evans, Chairman of Gold Medal® Products Co., will receive the 2011 National Association of Concessionaires’ Mickey Warner
Award at the July NAC Annual Convention & Trade Show. The award is named for the originator of the
NAC Concession Manager Certification program and a great innovator and educator for the concessions industry. “We are so pleased to be honoring J.C. Evans for his leadership, innovation and contributions to both the concessions industry and to the National Association of Concessionaires,” stated NAC President Ron Krueger II of Southern Theatres. J.C. grew up in the concession industry after his father, David C. Evans, started Gold Medal in 1931. J.C. was also the first recipient of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association’s Pioneer Award.
Charlie Boghosian of Chicken Charlie’s introduced Deep-fried Kool-Aid at this year’s San Diego County Fair. The new concession was a hit on the midway and became the talk of many media outlets across the country and Europe. The deep-fried balls are comprised of flour, water, and cherry
flavored-flavored Kool-Aid powder. Charlie sold hundreds of orders of the concession every day of the fair
and went through 150 pounds of Kool-Aid powder in the first four days of the event.
North American Midway Entertainment provided the midway for the record-breaking Frontier Days in Arlington Heights, IL Thursday June 30 –
Monday, July 4. Estimates indicate that 150,000 people attended the event, which celebrates its 36th
year. As part of the event, N.A.M.E. offered free rides and food on Citizens with Disabilities Day. Over 1,000 individuals with disabilities and
their families attended the celebration. Alongside N.A.M.E., musical entertainment included Lee Greenwood, Gin Blossoms, Kansas, Lonestar, and
Wagner’s Carnival of Aransas Pass, Texas is set to play the Marion County Fair in Hillsboro from July 27 through July 30. Advance ticket sales for the midway have been the strongest in the events history. The carnival offered $15 advance tickets good for unlimited ride access on one day
of the event. The special was available at local banks and grocery stores. Ten present of each ticket sold will be donated by Wagner’s Carnival will be
donated to community youth groups. The unlimited ride tickets will cost $20 at the event. Wagner’s Carnival added two rides to their
midway for the season, a Puppy Love and a Wipeout.
The IAAPA’s Asian Attractions Expo was a success in 2011 with an estimated 4,900 in attendance. The expo took place June 21 – 24 in Singapore. 236 companies were on hand on the trade show floor. Next year’s Asian Attractions Expo will take place in Hong Kong, June 5 – 8.
A sudden windstorm caused damage at Wisdom Rides headquarters near Sterling, CO. The storm blew in on Thursday, June 30. The
storm brought with it heavy rains, hail, and heavy winds. A wheel set up on the property was blown over and power lines were downed. According
to Victor Wisdom, a microburst resulting from the storm caused the damage. In particular, two heavy gusts of wind caused most of the wreckage. One of Wisdom’s employees was taken to the hospital as a precaution after a power line hit the
pickup truck he was in. The winds also moved panels and other objects, but the damage to the Wheel was the largest
result of the storm. For more information, visit the Midway Talk online at carnivalmag.com for a link to a
newspaper story about the storm.
Carnival employee, Steve McCann died on Tuesday, July 5 while tearing down a ride for an Independence Day celebration in Sand Lake,
Michigan. Steve had worked for McDonagh’s Amusements for the past three years. He was working on the show’s Fireball when he touched a power line. An autopsy will determine if he was killed by the shock or by falling. “It’s just an unfortunate, terrible tragedy,” carnival owner Tom McDonagh told the Chicago