Midway Talk

Billy Clark of Smokey Mountain Amusements reports that the show is busy preparing for the 2014 season. The show has concentrated into one unit. Brian Beaver Bitner and Katie Wilson who managed the second unit will play an integral role in the main unit along with show owners Billy and Sue Clark.

Miller Spectacular Shows has been selected as the new midway provider for the Taylor County Fair in Campbellsville, Kentucky. The show is based in Greenbrier, Arkansas and has been in business for over 50 years and is operated by Johnny and Sue Miller along with their son, Freddy, and his family. They operate 60 rides in two units that travel to 18 states as well as the Bahamas. Myers International Midways was the midway provider at the Taylor County Fair. Beginning in 2014, Myers has downsized their operation and is not returning to their fairs in Kentucky and Tennessee. The 2014 Taylor County Fair runs from May 31 – June 7. Other fairs previously played by Myers and now acquired by Miller Spectacular Shows include the Murray-Calloway County Fair, Union County Fair, Allen County Fair, Hart County Fair, Hardin County Fair, and Barren County Fair—all in Kentucky.

Dixieland Carnival Co. of Phenix City, Alabama has added 9 new fairs in Kentucky and Tennessee to their route beginning in 2014. New Kentucky events include the Adair County Fair (Columbia); the Nelson County Fair (Bardstown); the Pulaski County Fair (Somerset); and the Southern Kentucky Fair (Bowling Green). In Tennessee, Dixieland will provide the midway at the Henry County Fair (Paris); the Obion County Fair (Union City); the Gibson County Fair (Trenton); the Dyer County Fair (Dyersburg); and the Hardin County Fair (Savannah). Added equipment in 2014 includes an Expo Wheel, Area 51, Cliffhanger, Dalton Combo, Quad Runner, and Zipper. Also new will be four bunkhouses and two inflates. The Expo Wheel will be on display at the 2014 IISF Trade Show.

Congratulations to Holly Swartz of Hitch-Hiker Mfg. who won first prize in the Showmen’s League of America talent competition “Showpeople Have Talent” at the 2013 SLA Banquet and Ball in Las Vegas. Holly performed the song “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin. Proceeds from the competition went toward educational scholarships from the Showmen’s League of America, OABA, and IAFE.

Also in Las Vegas during the events surrounding the IAFE Convention, Jerry Hammer was inducted into the International Association of Fairs and Expositions Hall of Fame. Jerry has been the general manager at the Minnesota State Fair since 1997. The Minnesota State Fair won several other awards at the IAFE ceremony.

The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair received 8 awards at the IAFE Convention, including one first place award, five second-place awards, and two third-place awards. Among the honors was second place for their electronic newsletter, second place for their television advertisement, and third place for their printed and promotional material. The 2014 Miami-Dade County Youth Fair runs from Thursday, March 13 through Sunday, March 30. North American Midway Entertainment provides the midway.

Congratulations to the carnival recipients of OABA’s Circle of Excellence Award for 2013 – 2017: Kevin Tate of California Carnival Co., Eugene J. Dean III of Fiesta Shows, Dave Helm of Helm & Sons Amusements, Corky & Debbie Powers of Powers Great American Midways, Rick Reithoffer of Reithoffer Shows, Pat Reithoffer of Reithoffer Shows, and Thomas Gaylin III of Rosedale Attractions. The awardees were recognized during the IAFE Convention in December. A number of concessionaires and attractions companies were also recognized with a Circle of Excellence award. See a photo of many of the recipients in this month’s article, “Away from the Midway.”

Nick Pelino’s Showtime Rides of Dallas, Texas has purchased the KMG Fun Factory owned by Tom and Jeanne McDonagh’s Sky Attractions. Like Sky Attractions, Showtime Rides is an independent ride operator and provides attractions at major events like the Minnesota State Fair and San Diego County Fair. Sky Attractions continues to operate their Owen Big Bamboo Fun House, which will appear again at the Florida State Fair this year. The independent ride company also has plans to add more equipment soon.

Tom Evans of Evans United Shows reports that they have purchased a new Wisdom Genesis set for delivery in 2014. The show just concluded their season in mid-November and has several winterquarters projects planned for the off season. Among the ride refurbishments will be work on their Merry-Go-Round and Orbiter. Tom says that the 2013 was better than 2012 with temperatures that were more moderate. Evans United Shows is based in Plattsburg, Missouri.

S & S Amusements of Scott Township, Pennsylvania is busy in winterquarters. The show is currently restoring their Dark Ride and having it decorated in vinyl wrapping. They are also redoing the seats on their Musik Express and installing new platforms on their Fire Engine and Boat kiddie rides. Stephen Swika Jr. reports that 2013 was a good year. The show had a wet spring, but an outstanding fall. A Zamperla Dune Buggy was new to the midway and did well. Major bearings on several rides need to be replaced including their Spin Out, Bear Affair, and Spider Mania. The motor on show’s Merry-Go-Round has also required maintenance. All work will be completed for the 2014 season.

Butler Amusements has purchased a new KMG Freak Out for their lineup. The ride will be delivered at the IISF Trade Show in Florida this February. Andrea Owen of Butler Amusements also reports that the show did very well in 2013.

Another new Freak Out will be delivered by KMG at the 2014 Gibtown trade show, this one going to All Around Amusements of Lockport, Illinois.

Myers International Midways will not be touring during the 2014 season.  The show will still provide rides independently on a number of major midways, but will not maintain their regular route.  Myers International Midways is based in Gibsonton, Florida and is operated by Gloria Myers and Bobby Myers.

Drew Expositions is adding a new A.R.M. Vertigo to their lineup in 2014. Read more about the purchase and other news from the 2013 IAAPA Expo in the month’s feature article about the trade show.

Official attendance numbers for the 2013 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines were released in late November. A total of 1,045,048 fairgoers attended the 2013 event, which ran from August 8 through 18. Belle City Amusements provides the Iowa State Fair midway. This is the third year in a row that attendance at the state fair has topped the one million mark. The 2014 Iowa State Fair runs from August 7 through 17. 

Charles Panacek of Belle City Amusements reports that 2013 was a fair season that was effected by weather. The show completed the year at the Greater Jacksonville Fair in Jacksonville, FL where revenue was strong despite some bad weather. “It was our biggest year there in five years,” says Charles. The show signed a twelve-year contract extension with the event. Debuting during the summer and fall route in 2013 was Belle City Amusements’ SDC Moonraker. It is the only Moonraker in the U.S. and will continue to appear for the first time at events on the show’s winter route beginning in January. Charles states that he was very happy with the ride. Belle City is working on a number of projects in winter quarters and looks forward to returning to the road early in the new year.

Bill Swank of Swank’s Steel City Shows, Inc. summarizes 2013 as a positive year. The show was up about 10% compared to 2012. In preparation for 2014, Steel City Shows’ Zero Gravity was at the factory for a complete refurbishment and their Wadkins Wheel was also back at the factory for total refurbishment.

A 1921 Big Eli 12 seat Ferris Wheel was featured in the Hallmark Hall of Fame Production “Christmas in Conway,” which aired on ABC this past December 1. The film starred Mary-Louise Parker, Andy Garcia, Mandy Moore and Cheri Oteri. The movie was filmed on location in North Carolina. According to a press release from Sound Concepts Inc., “[The film] tells the story of how Duncan Mayor enlists the help of Tommy Harris to set up a Ferris Wheel in his back yard for his ailing wife…” The Wheel was provided by Round Concepts, a subsidiary of Sound Concepts Inc. It was acquired from the Boardwalk Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV where it was on display atop the building. The company restored the wheel, which was added to their collection of other vintage wheels. Ferris Wheels owned by Round Concepts have appeared in “The Lone Ranger” and “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.”

Big Rock Amusements has added the Chowan County Regional Fair in Edenton, North Carolina to their route for 2014. Playworld Amusements was the previous midway provider. The Chowan County Fair is open in late September.

The Cleveland County Fair in Shelby, North Carolina has announced that Bobby Jenks has been elected as the organization’s permanent manager. Bobby served as interim manager in 2013. The 2013 event ran from September 26 through October 6. Reithoffer Shows provides the midway. Bobby Jenks is also the president of Jenks Concessions. The 2014 Cleveland County Fair will mark the event’s 90th edition.

Skerbeck Brothers Shows has added the Battle Creek Balloon Festival in Battle Creek, Michigan to their route beginning in 2014. The event is traditionally held over the Fourth of July holiday. This off-season the show is re-racking the scenery on their Twin Flip to make setting the attraction up more efficient. They are also redoing each unit’s commissary and updating a number of kiddie rides. An e-ticketing system used by Skerbeck for the first time in 2013 worked out very well for the show. With the system, customers are able to purchase wristbands online and pick them up onsite using a bar code. Beginning last summer, the show also began operating their ATM machines through their internet protocol rather than using cell phone towers, thus ensuring the ATM machines continued operating even on busy concert nights at events. In other show news, Skerbeck has purchased a number of game concessions from Clarence Taylor.

In Memoriam:

Rick Hagen of Waterloo Tent & Tarp Company passed away on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. Rick was a Sales Associate at Waterloo and a friendly, familiar face at industry trade shows. He was born on March 30, 1964 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Carnival Magazine extends its deepest sympathies to the Hagen family, Rick’s friends, and everyone at Waterloo Tent.