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  • Thu, October 10, 2019 5:37 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Despite a few appearances of inclement weather during the 113th annual State Fair of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, held Sept. 2-22, attendance was approximately 900,000, up five per cent from 2018.

    Scott Munz, vice president of Marketing and Public Relations, said ticket prices were $12 for adults, $6 for children, with all those under the age of five admitted for free. “It's quite a bargain,” said Munz, who has been working at the fair for 31 years.

    Tim O'Toole, president and chief executive officer, has been on the job since January of 2004. I remember having attended a couple times before that when Don Hotz and Sandy Saunders held that position. On one of the occasions where I attended, my wife, Christine, had her grab joint booked with Rod Link Shows.

    In my role as editor of Amusement Business, it was my duty to cover activities of the fair, and I also took time to serve up some Italian and Polish sausage sandwiches. She wouldn’t let me count the money, but there was lots of it. It was one heck of a spot then, and still is.

    Rod and I were interviewed by local media after a headline in the Oklahoma City paper declared “Killer Ride (a Zipper) at State Fair.” We got past that, and before the fair was over, on the busiest Saturday, a task force of federal agents raided the show and hauled off a Pokerino machine booked by Bob Wolf, which effectively put him out of business. All week long, we had all wondered who these people were, and they lied about it when I asked directly.

    With Link prodding me on, I kept taking pictures of some games being moved and when I asked one federal agent his name, he refused to give it to me. Rod and I went to their command post and complained, and the guy was instructed to give me his name, which I needed like a hole in the head, but harassment works both ways.

    One of the thrills of my life came on that trip when I interviewed Roy Rogers, who was performing at the rodeo. I later got a letter from Art Rush, Roy's manager of 37 years, saying it was the best story ever written about Roy, his wife, Dale Evans, and horse, Trigger. After that, it was back to selling hot dogs for me as I followed Christine around for most of that summer.

    I believe it was 1977. The beauty for AB was that I'd get guys from the show, Joe Lane, David Starkey, Harold Case, Kal Hamilton, Pee Wee Hoskins, and others, and we'd visit every carnival within a hundred miles of where Christine was booked, mostly with Milt Kaufman's Gooding's Million Dollar Midways. Shows were visited that never were before or have been since.

    Back to this year's fair, Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows enjoyed the primarily nice weather that resulted in the carnival gross being up four per cent over last year. Contributing to the success the carnival enjoyed were the family-friendly park-like atmosphere, an ever-increasing Gold Access Program, a strong ride lineup, and Pay-One-Price unlimited ride wristbands throughout the run, according to Munz. Wristbands were $35 on weekdays, and $45 on weekends.

    Munz also pointed out that the food gross was up 10 per cent over last year, “mainly since we didn't lose any full days like we did in 2018. Our discount coupon book, sold on site, also continues to contribute to the strong food gross.”

    The Sky Eye Wheel, owned by Zaitshik and Michael Wood, drew a tremendous amount of media coverage. At 155 feet tall, it is the largest portable Ferris Wheel in North America. Disney on Ice Presents Mickey's Search party was down a little in attendance due to the loss of one of the nine performances. Two exciting nights of bull riding action featured performances by Midland and Scotty McCreery.

    Other entertainment included The Gatlin Brothers, Kevin Fowler, Resurrection, a Journey Tribute, La Energia Nortena, Unspoken, The Grass Roots, The Buckinghams and The Box Tops, Elvis Extravaganza Easton Corbin, Dru Hill, Night Ranger, and Tony Lewis from The Outfield.

    Attendance was down, mainly due to weather, at both the 97th annual Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona, California, held Aug. 30-Sept. 22, and the Sept. 18-29 Kern County Fair, Bakersfield.

    Despite some of the highest temperatures in the last six years, estimated crowds at Pomona numbered an estimated 1.1 million, down from 1.25 million in 2018. The average daily temperature in the first three weeks of September was 93 degrees, said Miguel Santana, chief executive officer. Some of the problems were offset by new shade structures, misters, and high quality experiences in the air-conditioned exposition halls.

    With a number of successful promotions, Ray Cammack Shows held its own before heading to its closing date of its season, the Arizona State Fair, Phoenix, where Wanell Costello is executive director. From food and beverage to carnival and concert sales, the fair saw a four per cent increase in revenue over the five-year average.

    The End of Summer Concert Series, with acts that included Pitbull, Kelsea Ballerini, and George Lopez, set an all-time record high for nightly revenue and attendance. Pitbull had to reschedule his Sept. 1 show due to a hurricane, but he still packed the house with a sold out show on Sept. 12. Other sellouts were recorded by Old Dominion, and Chicago, according to Renee Hernandez, in the PR Department.

    Other acts included War, with Tierra and Malo, Hunter Hayes, Juanes, Ramon Ayala, Charlie Wilson, with Montell Jordan, 38 Special, Marshall Tucker Band, and The Outlaws, and Hammer's House Party. Dates for next year are Sept. 4-27.

    Butler Amusementsplayed Bakersfield, where attendance was 394,350, but the concession gross was up by 6.13 per cent, according to Mike Olcott, CEO and GM.  Pay-One-Price unlimited ride wristbands were available for $30 Monday through Thursday, and $35 Friday through Sunday.

    The concert lineup at the Budweiser Pavilion included Nelly, KC & The Sunshine Band, Tracy Byrd, Pablo Cruise, Los Rieleros Del Norte, Francesca Battistelli, and Scotty McCreery.

    There is a lot going on. Some people are already home, some are taking a short break, and others are still out there working hard, with some of the major fairs upcoming soon, or taking place now. I hope to get around to writing something about most of them, especially the ones that are already over and I just haven't got to yet, but I will.

    I saw an article in the This Day in Sports column the other day where on Oct. 4, 1940, Fritzie Zivic defeated Henry Armstrong for the Welterweight Boxing Championship of the World. It reminded me of when I interviewed Zivic and asked if he had ever taken a dive. He told me he was ordered to by the mob in a championship match with Freddie Cochrane at Madison Square Garden.

    I refused and beat him all to hell, but the fight was called a draw. I fought him a couple months later and knocked him out.” I looked it up. Both fights were at the Garden, the first on July 29, 1941, the second in September of 1942. Zivic had an outstanding career record of 158 wins, 65 losses, and two draws. He held his own twice with Sugar Ray Robinson, losing both fights on points.

    My old friend, Don Sandefur, who ran the PGA West, and then the Harlem Globetrotters, dropped me a note saying, “I remember the nickname you kept secret for over 40 years (Hacky told me), but will keep it a secret till my death. That is, unless someone offers me enough Scotch.” Sandefur is referring to the late Hacky Fanning who owned a bar in the neighborhood of Scranton, Pa., where I grew up. Sandefur asked Hacky if he had a business card and he handed him the mailing address off a copy of AB that I had sent him.

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

    Have all great days, and God Bless!
  • Thu, October 10, 2019 5:15 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    by Madeline Hoak, Professor, Performer

    In a circular ballroom on the twelfth floor of Springfield’s La Quinta hotel with a stunning view of Western Massachusetts, over one hundred dedicated members of Circus Fans of America (CFA) gathered for a three day celebration at their annual convention. Founded in 1926, the Circus Fans Association of America was created to give support to traveling circuses and circus performers. Now with around 2,000 members and less than a decade shy of one hundred years later, their brochure touts unwavering dedication to this mission, stating “The Circus Fan will do their utmost to create a true understanding and appreciation of the educational, historical, cultural and recreational values of the circus, with or without animals.”

    Local chapters of the CFA are called “Tents,” which are named after living or deceased circus owners, producers or performers. Tents schedule local events that usually coincide with circus performances. Sometimes CFA members will be on hand with coffee and donuts when a circus arrives in a new town. Members will attend a performance as a group and then might invite the circus employees to a luncheon. Many members also work with circus schools through CFA’s Circus 4 Youth.

    Membership includes a subscription to the CFA’s publication, White Tops, which includes articles, reviews and beautiful photos of circus events around America and abroad. Due to its longevity, White Tops is an important and living archive of traditional circus information. The organization welcomes all circus professionals and fans to join. And indeed, it will likely take an expansion in membership across generations and genres to ensure that this organization continues to provide support for traditional circuses and camaraderie for circus fans of all kinds.

    The convention opened with a buffet dinner. Long hugs between old friends and broad smiles peppered the room. Outfits were adorned with spectacular accessories: a feather in the hair, striped jackets, gold studded boots or a vest of clown faces. As we passed serving tongs at appetizer tables, the regional accents gave away that folks hailed from all over the country. Mixed in among the fans were circus legends, owners, producers, authors and historians. The breadth and wealth of experience and know-how in the room was astounding. In the background, four screens played slide shows of circuses past and present. Down the hall, a second room was packed with circus swag for sale: buttons, books, model trains — you name it, it was there. It was a traditional circus enthusiast’s playground! And the food was good.

    Bright and early at 8am on a Thursday morning, the legendary animal trainer, eighth generation circus performer and now circus agent, Jeanette Williams, kicked off a day of panel discussions and presentations. Speaking off the cuff, she gave a candid recount of what it was like for her family to arrive in America. She fondly remembered her brave mother who sewed money in the children’s coats when they traveled, and she detailed the shocking accommodations for her animals she was presented with upon arriving in America. A lifelong performer who can expertly read a crowd, she inserted jokes and lighthearted stories at just the right intervals to keep the audience engaged.

    Ms. Williams’ presentation was bookended with an observation and a plea that would be repeated throughout the convention. Calling attention to the average age of the population in the room, she quipped at the start, “The only justice in life is that we get old.” She closed her talk by impressing upon the crowd that their personal collections of circus memorabilia ought to go to a worthy home. This was the first of many self-referential, albeit jovial, digs that were made at the seniority of the Circus Fans membership. Under the good natured humor, the comments were tinged with a somber tone and earnest concern for the future of the organization. Joe Barney, owner and producer of Center Ring Productions and the convention’s master of ceremonies, was never shy to tell it how it is, “The circus is not dead. But look around the room: if we don’t get new people to join us, we’re going to be performing for the Geritol circus!”

    Do the Circus Fans think circus is dead? Not necessarily, but their internal struggle between the desire to hang on to and uphold the iconic traditional American circus they love pitted against the realities that circus has changed–is changing– was palpable. The topic was hot amongst the panelists of the Owners and Directors Forum. Wayne McCary, former CEO of Eastern States Exposition, tore the bandaid off, “You’re going to see change, but don’t think mistakenly that circus is going to fade away… As much as our generation and people in this room lament the fact that circus is changing, the circus isn’t dying.” Bello Nock reminded the crowd, “Circus is tradition and change. Circus brought icons, rarities; it changed the environment… You have to change to stay relevant… If you take away the color that we all get fascinated with and look just at the business, it’s like any other industry: supply and demand.”

     
         
     

    The presence of animals is a huge ingredient for circus traditionalists. The panelists gently invited the idea of a broader definition. As an agent for international circus performers, Jeanette Williams brought to light a related shift in the industry, “Because of not having animals, the productions have to hire more performers to fill the time.” She adamantly denounced the expectation that performers have multiple skills sets. “I’m very opposed to people asking, ‘How many acts can they do?’ I’d rather they ask, ‘What’s their main act?'” For her, training multiple acts waters down a performer’s ability to present a “first class” act.

    The afternoon brought the Circus Memorabilia Collections Seminar offering advice for best preservation practices. Circus Fans have treasure troves of memorabilia, and the reality is that museums cannot always take these collections. To preserve the artifacts, individual owners are tasked with preserving the tangible artifacts of the art form. From Timothy Tegge, the audience learned about the hazards of scotch tape and the unbelievable transformations that proper restoration can bring to old circus posters. Dave Johnson appointed anyone that collected, a Historical Preservation Officer and insisted they practice, “Documentation, documentation, documentation.” He also prodded thoughtfulness. “Planning is everything. Give it to the kids? Is it in the will?” Kathleen Mahen spoke to her position as Executive Director of the Barnum museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the role that museums play in archiving circus. She assigned the audience a self-reflection task by asking, “What does your collection do? Community engagement? Make people curious?” All advice and prompts were given in good spirit to assist collectors in safeguarding their relics.

    I’ll admit I missed the Circus Costume & Choreography Seminar, but for good reason. I fell into a wonderful discussion with Dick Flint. He happened to overhear me say one word in an adjacent conversation, “research,” and politely saddled up for a chat. Flint just happened to be a former president of the Circus Historical Society (a generous portion of their members overlap with CFA) and a veritable well of circus knowledge. He immediately offered a plethora of resources related to my research on spectatorship. Not long after, Flint made sure I spoke with Fred Pfening III, another monumental circus historian. Flint and Pfening were generous with their conversation and suggestions for resources and other historians and academics that might be helpful to me. They were buzzing with appreciation that I was a young academic interested in circus history — a new person with whom to share their wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm. And I thought, ‘I’m not alone! There are so many performers, students, academics, coaches, producers and contemporary circus fans that would benefit from conversation with the members of this organization.’ And I thought, ‘There is bridge building that must be done. Priceless information is falling into a generation gap.’ Organizations like the Circus Fans Association of America hold a torch for traditional American circus, but as Wayne McCary astutely pointed out, “The new generation is growing up without the same history.” Bello Nock insisted, “The future of circus is partnering.” I couldn’t agree more. Circus in America has and will continue to change, and it’s going to take a diverse, multi-generational group of historians, fans, academics and contemporary practitioners, creators and producers to keep the traditional circus flame alive.

    Bello Nock insisted, “The future of circus is partnering.” I couldn’t agree more.

    The day wrapped up with the Circus Legends Program honoring important members of the community. Each recipient was introduced with incomparable stories of personal achievements that have shaped the circus industry. As they received the honor, they responded with heartwarming tales of successes, mishaps and always with deep recognition and gratitude for those who aided their work: family, trainers and of course, fans. Circus folks never forget whose shoulders they stood on to become who they are, do what they do and bring circus joy to the world. And nowhere else will you hear things like, “I had to bring the bears up the fire escape.”

    Friday was spent at The Big E Fair where CFA fans were warmly welcomed under the big top for a delightful circus performance. That evening, back at the hotel, CFA members performed clowning, magic and ventriloquism for each other and a new film about P.T. Barnum was screened. The convention quietly wrapped up as week tipped into weekend.

    Traditional traveling circuses swept through towns for a single day, Circus Day. Spectators had 364 days to bask in the memories and build up excitement for next year’s show. Similarly, CFA conventions are annual. The group won’t gather again until fall 2020 — this time in Las Vegas, Nevada! And I have no doubt that, also like Circus Day, the memories, the camaraderie and the pure love for the art of circus will stay steadfast through the year.

    Madeline is a NYC based performer, producer, professor, and choreographer specializing in aerial, acrobatics, dance and movement direction. She is an adjunct professor of Aerial Arts at Pace University, on staff at Aerial Arts NYC and The Muse Brooklyn and initiated the Aerial program at Muhlenberg College where she taught from 2011 - 2017. Her movement direction contributed to Circle Theater NYC’s production of The Mountain winning Outstanding Original Choreography/Movement, 2015. She co-choreographed The Battles, a musical voted by Broadway producer Ken Davenport one of the top 10 new scripts of 2016. Madeline's choreography has been presented at Dixon Place, Circus Warehouse, BAX, The House of Yes, Abron Arts Center, Times Square, The Flea, STREB, Galapagos, and The Muse. She received BAs in Dance and Theater from Muhlenberg College and is currently studying at NYU’s Gallatin school of Individualized Study where she is designing a master’s degree in circus studies with a focus on dramaturgy and creative processes. madelinehoak.com.

  • Thu, October 10, 2019 5:10 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    UPDATES

    Booking.com has announced it will no longer sell tickets to animal attractions including circuses and cetacean shows, following suit with many other travel companies of late.

    Last week we heard that TripAdvisor will no longer be selling tourist packages that include trips to facilities that breed or import cetaceans. 
    The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) released a well articulated response to that decision: 
    https://www.iaapa.org/news/iaapa-responds-tripadvisor

    The ban on carriage rides in Chicago was removed from the docket.  Thank you to everyone that called and wrote in support. 


    More news, updates and link here >>>

  • Thu, October 10, 2019 5:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*  
    (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      09/23     09/30     10/07     week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.081 3.066 3.047   values are down -0.019 values are down -0.338
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.083 3.065 3.041   values are down -0.024 values are down -0.319
    New England (PADD1A) 3.070 3.056 3.047   values are down -0.009 values are down -0.297
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.252 3.238 3.224   values are down -0.014 values are down -0.307
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.971 2.948 2.915   values are down -0.033 values are down -0.328
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.992 2.987 2.967   values are down -0.020 values are down -0.384
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.858 2.827 2.804   values are down -0.023 values are down -0.365
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.034 3.032 3.022   values are down -0.010 values are down -0.368
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.650 3.645 3.642   values are down -0.003 values are down -0.224
    West Coast less California 3.238 3.228 3.215   values are down -0.013 values are down -0.343
    California 3.976 3.976 3.981   values are up 0.005 values are down -0.130
    *prices include all taxes
    https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/
  • Thu, October 03, 2019 9:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    UPDATES
    The city of Chicago is considering a ban on carriage horses.  Please help oppose this ordinance sponsored by the animal rights group, Chicago Alliance for Animals. 
    https://www.thecavalrygroup.com/STOP-CHICAGO-CARRIAGE-BAN
    Please share this with your Chicagoan friends and family; it carries much more weight from residents! 
    On October 2nd, the Nonhuman Rights Project won a temporary restraining order that forbids the Bronx Zoo from relocating their elephant Happy out of state before their next hearing.
    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/nonhuman-rights-project-wins-restraining-161033419.html      

    TripAdvisor Updates Industry-Leading Animal Welfare Policy With A Commitment To End Whale & Dolphin Captivity                                             

    - TripAdvisor and its subsidiary Viator to end commercial relationships with facilities that breed or import captive whales and dolphins                

    - Policy aims to drive captivity industry towards seaside sanctuaries as an alternative environment for current generation of captive whales and dolphins https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tripadvisor-updates-industry-leading-animal-welfare-policy-with-a-commitment-to-end-whale--dolphin-captivity-300929337.html

    More News, Updates and Links here>>>

  • Thu, October 03, 2019 8:48 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    When Eastern States Exposition (The Big E), West Springfield, Massachusetts, announced a record attendance of 1,629,527 for this year's Sept. 13-29 extravaganza, it brought back wonderful memories of me visiting the event.

    On one occasion, my late brother, Bob, who was living in Hyannis, Massachusetts, 152.2 miles away, decided it would be a great opportunity for him to drive down and visit with me. I told him to go by the food trailer of Rene and Judy Piche and if I weren't there, they would know how to get in touch with me.

    When he arrived, the Piches, being the pranksters they are, told Bob he would have to tell them the nickname I had while growing up in Scranton, Pa., in order to verify his authenticity. Bob knew I hated that name but told them anyway.

    They got in touch with me and the four of us, plus a woman I didn't know, sat around for a while, had drinks, and told stories and jokes, some of which were slightly off color. It wasn't until Bob and I were ready to leave that the Piches told us the woman was a Catholic nun.

    Anyway, for Rene Piche, a man I call the Frenchman, who was born in Ware, Massachusetts, this was his 59th Big E, having first played the fair with his Jack's French Fries stand in1961. This year, the Piches had three stands booked and their son Mark, and his wife, Susan, four, for a total of seven. The Piches had two Tootsie's Fried Doughs and one Jack's Fries. Mark and Susan had Piche's Beignets, which Judy had operated in the past; two fried doughs and a Fries.

    I had seven corners, too,” said Rene, proudly, emphasizing that because of seniority and the quality of their operation, they were awarded what were considered to be seven of the best locations.

    When I asked Rene where the name Jack's came from, he said that was the name it had when he bought the trailer from Sylvio St. Orange of Ware, Mass., “and we decided to keep it. As for Tootsie's, that's what we called my first wife, now deceased, whose real name was Elsie.” Rene, who was born May 14, 1936, and Judy have been together for 41 years. I reminded her of when she was hanging out at the Gibtown bar with friends Tony and Monica Baress, and Rene quipped, “She put her fishing pole on the bar and reeled me in.”

    This was a great year. The weather was perfect, and it was a superb fair. The people love us. They love our product, and many of them come specifically for the fried dough,” said Rene. “We were up 20 per cent over last year, which was also a record for us, and the fair.”

    Having tasted them on many occasions, I always told Rene his French Fries were the best I ever tasted. My late buddy, John A. Hobbs, who ran The Nashville Palace and John A's Restaurants and Bars in Nashville, agreed with me on that, and tried several times to talk Rene and Judy into setting up a stand in Music Valley. They never got around to doing that but visited with Christine and me at one of John's places whenever they got close to Nashville. They were usually in the company of Jim and Janice Swain, Swain's Pizza on a Stick. Full disclosure, Rene was one of Paul (Duke) Smith's (founder and owner of Allied Specialty Insurance) best friends. Along with Bud and Jeanette Gilmore of Smokey's Greater Shows, the six of us took trips together, one for six weeks that included The Great Wall of China (no kidding), and another to Jamaica.

    Looking back, when Rene first played The Big E, Bill Wynne, who had been president of the Mid-South Fair, Memphis, Tenn., was in charge. Then came George Jones, Wayne McCary and Eugene J. Cassidy, who is the current President and CEO of The Big E.

    Danny Huston, chairman of the board and chief executive officer (in other words, the head guy) with North American Midway Entertainment, which has provided the midway at The Big E for the last 15 years, said it was a record run for the carnival as well.

    Rich Wyatt was in charge of the NAME Unit there. Huston said, “Weather was almost perfect, and Gene Cassidy and his team are unbelievable to work with. We have three years left on our current contract. You could never find people nicer to work with.”

    NAME had 70 rides set up on the carnival midway. Booked in were John and Tina Doolan, Walter Gould, with a Frisbee, Tim Coleman, Mark Fanelli, and Bob DeStefano of Dreamland Amusements, with his Roller Coaster. We got him through the recommendation of Tommy Coffing, Used Rides.com.,” said Huston.

    While getting ready for the show to open at the Mississippi State Fair, Jackson, Huston said NAME is also coming off record runs at the Mid-South Fair, Southhaven, Mississippi, where Mark Cockerham was in charge; the Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson, and East Texas State Fair, Tyler, where Pat Repp and Tom Thebault headed up the unit. “We're hoping for more of the same now at Tulsa, the South Carolina State Fair, Columbia; Jackson, and Evansville, Indiana, for the West Side Nut Club Festival. You should come to that one. It is a real good community event that raises over $1 million for over 200 different organizations.”

    I told Danny I wouldn't be able to make it, but remembered visiting the headquarters of Anchor Industries in Evansville when I was with AB. I asked if he remembered Paul Black, Jerry Peach, Jimmy Mortellaro, and Dan Silbur of Anchor, and, of course, he did.

    I told Huston that Black was the installing officer at the Gibtown Club and when he relinquished his duties, I took them over. I immediately discovered there was no formal ceremony, so I created one. As each officer came to the podium, I had them swear on a copy of Amusement Business, which was always referred to as the “Bible for Show People,” a tradition that lasted for years.

    Another legend, who has spent almost as much time working at The Big E as Rene Piche, is a great friend to both of us, Bob Commerford. He estimated he has had his Petting Zoos there for 50 years, saying “Billy Wynne, from your part of the country where you now live, was in charge at that time. Even though he is banned from having elephant rides in the state of New York (because of PETA), he can still do it at The Big E, but did not, stating that the elephants are now retired. He did have camel and pony rides, and a six-pony hitch pulling a calliope in the daily parades. “Even though I wasn't there, it was a record year,” said Commerford. He said he went the Sunday before it opened to attend an outdoor Mass conducted by the local Catholic Bishop. “It was so hot I decided not to go back.” Commerford is now 87. He said his sons, Billy and Timmy, were on their way to Columbia, S. C., and before West Springfield, had big runs at Chatham, N. Y., Goshen, Connecticut, and Bethlehem, Connecticut. “We've been very busy, and I know they have dates booked all the way up to Christmas,” said Bob.

    If you're curious enough to want that nickname that I kept secret from my four children and Nashville friends for over 40 years, you're going to have to get it from the kids, which is doubtful, Rene, Judy, or even Commerford. Hobbs would have told you in a minute.

    The Major League Baseball playoffs start tonight, and I have decided, after much careful thought, it would have been the Yankees and Dodgers in the World Series, as it was during most of my childhood, if it were not for the Houston Astros. As Gary McNeal of L&G Concessions, who is also at the Mississippi State Fair, said, “Pick the team with the former Tigers,” he being a huge Detroit fan. He's talking about Justin Verlander, so I'm going with Houston over the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. I'm hoping Gabe Kapler gets fired as manager of the Phillies. They've either quit or folded on him in two consecutive years. Enough is enough.

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

  • Tue, October 01, 2019 10:34 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*
      (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      09/16/19 09/23/19 09/30/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 2.987 3.081 3.066   values are down -0.015 values are down -0.247
    East Coast (PADD1) 2.998 3.083 3.065   values are down -0.018 values are down -0.227
    New England (PADD1A) 3.013 3.070 3.056   values are down -0.014 values are down -0.249
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.177 3.252 3.238   values are down -0.014 values are down -0.209
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.874 2.971 2.948   values are down -0.023 values are down -0.232
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.882 2.992 2.987   values are down -0.005 values are down -0.291
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.761 2.858 2.827   values are down -0.031 values are down -0.252
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 2.959 3.034 3.032   values are down -0.002 values are down -0.335
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.574 3.650 3.645   values are down -0.005 values are down -0.157
    West Coast less California 3.161 3.238 3.228   values are down -0.010 values are down -0.278
    California 3.901 3.976 3.976   no change 0.000 values are down -0.062
    *prices include all taxes
    www.eia.gov
  • Tue, October 01, 2019 7:04 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Contact: Catherine Pappas
    Public Relations & Communications Manager
    More Info: (413) 205-5041

    For Immediate Release – West Springfield, Mass.                                      September 29, 2019

    1,629,527 ATTEND THE 2019 BIG E

    A record number of visitors attended the 2019 Big E, in West Springfield, Mass., breaking the Fair’s all-time high attendance figure, with a final tally of 1,629,527. The previous record, of 1,543,470, was set in 2018.

    During the Fair’s run, the all-time highest single day attendance record was also broken when 176,544 visitors attended Saturday, Sept. 21. Five additional daily attendance records were set: Sept. 19, 85,698; Sept. 21, 176,544; Sept. 25, 89,124; Sept. 27, 112,988 and Sept. 28, 173,112.

    Eugene J. Cassidy, president and CEO of the Exposition, said, “As our event continues to grow, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we receive, and I want to thank everyone in this region who supports us by attending The Big E! Your support allows our mission of agriculture and education to thrive, to grow, and to have a national impact.”

    A diverse concert line-up of more than 80 individual performances, fabulous Fair foods, rides and unique shopping experiences provided something for everyone in the family.

    World-Class Entertainment  

    The epic entertainment line-up this year included ticketed and free concerts at The Big E Arena, sponsored by MGM Springfield, including: AJR; Loverboy; Skillet; Back to the 80s: A Flock of Seagulls, Naked Eyes, and Missing Persons;  Sugar Ray; Sesame Street Live; Collective Soul; MGM Presents Carly Rae Jepsen; and Foreigner.

    The covered seating area at the Court of Honor Stage, sponsored by Mattress Firm, created a musical oasis in the center of the fairgrounds. Highlights included: Brynn Cartelli; DJ Anomaly; Mariachi Mexico Antiguo; VEO; Bowling for Soup; Blue Öyster Cult; Rave On; The Georgia Satellites; Ambrosia; Lettuce; Xtreme Chinese Acrobats; Up, Up and Away! Starring Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.; Scott Stapp, the Voice of Creed; Naughty by Nature; FAT; Collector Car Live, sponsored by Mark’s Auto Parts, with hosts Mike Brewer of Wheeler Dealers, Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars, and Barrett Jackson’s Steve Mangiani; Atlanta Rhythm Section; John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band; Saraphina Violin; The Original Wailers; Los Lonely Boys; Cautious Clay, DJ Meechie, Matt Maratea, OnCue and Lil TJay; The Artimus Pyle Band; Mason Ramsey and Walker Hayes.

    The E Stage, sponsored by Blue Chair Bay Rum, featured fresh sounds of local and emerging talent, offered every day of the Fair.

    Other offerings were the Mardi Gras & Daily Parades; The Big E Circus Spectacular; Mutts Gone Nuts, sponsored by Leaf Filter Gutter Protection; Camel Kingdom Presents Sahara, sponsored by Uncommon USA; North American Midway Entertainment; Street Performers “ARCY”, Mobile Glass Studio, Soltar the Fortune Teller and more.

    This year we celebrated the centennials of The Massachusetts Building, Junior Achievement which was founded by Horace A. Moses on the grounds of ESE, Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery Co-operative, and 100 years of the West Springfield United Methodist Church feeding youngsters in the Moses 4-H Kitchen.

    Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula Showcase brought the Emerald Isle to our fairgoers in a newly expanded and custom-built marketplace. Fourteen exhibitors brought handmade crafted products, the deep diaspora connections of West Springfield and West Kerry, the cultural and educational links of both sides of the Atlantic and the combined rich destinations of both regions.

    Delectable Dining  
    We welcomed new additions to the dining experience in 2019.

    New vendors included: Chocolate Moonshine Co., Gertrude’s Pretzel, Hot Wisconsin Cheese, Souper Bowl and Noujaim’s Mediterranean Foods.

    New foods for the 2019 Fair included: the BBQ Split from Porky’s Barbeque; the chicken, bacon and cheese Chomper from Chompers; deep fried pineapple upside down cake from the Coffee Break; New Orleans-style brick oven pizzas from The Deep South Company; gourmet flavored frozen or hot chocolate; the V-One Friesling from Craft Cocktails, Inc.; and the Breakfast Cone from the Agawam Lions Club. 

    Guests also devoured our Big E Cream Puffs, with the new option of chocolate ganache topping, along with our Eclairs, and The Big E Craz-E Burger.

    Agricultur
    The Eastern States Farmers Market and Wine Barn offered fairgoers a variety of agricultural demonstrations, such as spinning and weaving, in the Fiber Nook, cooking demonstrations in the Demonstration Kitchen, samples from The Big E Gold Medal Cheese Competition and The Big E Northeast Gold Wine, Cider & Perry Competition, wine slushies and cheese plates in the Wine Café and more. During the course of the Fair, thousands of 4-Hers and FFA members participated in competitions and presented educational demonstrations. The 4-H Beef Grand Champion Steer, raised by Olivia Oatley, of Rhode Island, was purchased by The Barnyard and Great Country Garages at the Fair’s 4-H Beef Auction. ESE purchased the reserve Grand Champion Steer, raised by Kody Kishbaugh, of New York and the Highly Commended Steer, raised by Victoria Briggs, of New Hampshire. Overall, twenty five steers were sold for an average of $2.70/lb.

    The ESE Horse Show, sponsored by Williams Distributing, featured Hunters and Hunt Seat Equitation, the USHJA Zone I HOTY finals and the $15,000 Hunter Classic as well as Saddlebreds, Hackneys, Morgans, Friesians and Opportunity Classes. The Big E Draft Horse Show featured the 2019 North American Classic Cart Series Finals, the Haflinger and Hitch Pony Championship series and the $50,000 Six-Horse Hitch Showdown.

    New England Traditions
    Each state building along the Avenue of States put its best foot forward to bring our fairgoers an authentic New England experience. Storrowton Village Museum offered tours of its 19th century buildings, staffed with “villagers” going about their daily routines, as well as historic demonstrations on the Green.

    New England Center – This home of The Big E’s Creative Arts department, housed displays of entries and winners in competitions for quilting, lace making, rug hooking, doll making and knitting competitions. The department set a record with 1,940 total entries throughout all contests, judged 232 quilts and had a record 670 entries for the photography contest.

    Social media outreach to our fans and followers across the Internet continued to grow this year. When the Fair ended, The Big E had over 226K followers on Facebook, more than 12.3K Twitter fans, and 27.7K followers on Instagram. Facebook Live with Julie Harrison, offered a unique look at The Big E each morning and was another huge success this year.

    About The Big E
    The Big E is America’s only multi-state fair celebrating the rich history, culture and traditions of the six New England states. As the principal event of Eastern States Exposition, The Big E has presented the finest livestock; agriculture; innovative commercial, industrial, and artistic developments; and the highest caliber of varied entertainment to the people of the northeastern United States for over a century. The 17-day event has grown to become the largest fair in the Northeast.

    And the tradition continues next fall – September 18 through October 4, 2020. Stay up to date with all the happenings at Eastern States Exposition by finding us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and joining our mailing list – all from our home page – TheBigE.com.

    Eastern States Exposition hosts hundreds of shows and events throughout the year. Don’t miss the ninth annual Fiber Festival of New England (details at fiberfestival.org), November 2 & 3, or Yuletide at Storrowton, Dec. 7 & 8.

    Media Contact:

    Catherine Pappas
    Public Relations & Communications Manager, The Big E
    413.205.5041 | cpappas@thebige.com

  • Thu, September 26, 2019 6:12 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    UPDATES

    Karen, an elephant under the care R.W. Commerford & Sons, has passed away

    Following the death of Beulah, it was discovered that Karen died this past March. It cannot be easy to lose two elephants that are a part of the family in one year.

    U.S.D.A. confirms second elephant under R.W. Commerford's care has died

    IN THE NEWS

    Read Vanessa's information and all links here>>

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