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On The Earie by Tom Powell, OABA News Ambassador

Thu, April 18, 2019 1:30 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

A record attendance of more than 130,000 was recorded for the 33rd annual Clay County Fair, Green Springs, Fla., held April 4-13, according to Jackie Collins, office assistant to GM Tasha Hyder.

Dale Negus, concession manager for Deggeller Attractions, which has provided the carnival midway from the beginning of the event, said there was a little rain on the first Saturday, “but the last two days were very big.”

Negus, who has been with the carnival since 1974, when he was 13, said Green Cove Springs put a big capper on three dates that were within 35 miles of each other. They were the Bradford County Fair, Starke, where Negus said it was cold, but the fair continues to grow, and the Putnam County Fair, East Palatka. “They had two weekends, and it went as well as it always does.”

Negus, who played collegiate football at Georgia Tech, under Coach Bill Curry, said, “Green Cove Springs just keeps growing. It is an unbelievable community event. Everybody with the show, including Andy Deggeller, an OABA director, and his wife, Jamie, are in awe of what they do. They had some really big name acts, more than usual, and when they tore the stage down they sold out for a couple of tractor pulls.”

Collins, who has worked at the fair for 10 years, said former manager, Pete Sutton, dropped by for the kickoff luncheon ceremonies, and opening day. She said the talent included Devon Dawson and Drake White, Marshall Tucker, Big Daddy Weave, Shenandoah, Joe Diffie, Big and Rich, Roots & Boots, featuring Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, and Collin Raye, Jordan Davis and Jimmy Allen, and Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers. Acts were booked through 4 Walls Entertainment, of Auburndale, FL.

Other entertainment included The Barnyard Cackle Revue, Da Johnson Power Band, Rosaire's Royal Racers, Disc-Connected K9s World Famous Frisbee Dog, Dennis Lee Band, Team T&J, Sweeney Family Band, Xpogo Stunt Team, Mac Ganoe, Agri-Puppets, and Dan Dan the Farmer Man.

Booking with Deggeller were Gloria and Bobby Myers with their New York New York Funhouse, and a truck kiddie ride, and Michael Lauther with an Orbiter, two Funhouses, Tilt, and Pizza Stand. Perry Ristick came in with five games. Regulars with the show are Rob Myers and Alieta Hopp, with games, a grab joint, and a Yo Yo, and Puppy Ride. Assisting Negus and his wife, Sharon, with their Fair Play Games was their son, Dale Jr., 24, who graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, N. C. He is accompanied by his fiancee, Zane Vissera. They plan to marry on Nov. 28, 2020. That's what he said.

The show's Scott MacNeill, the son, not the father, had the show's new Pinfari Klondike Roller Coaster, a Looping Star RL 42 model, set up with Ray Cammack Shows at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. It's the only Looping Coaster in the U. S. MacNeill said it moves on six trucks, has two Gondolas that hold 12 passengers each, and it was purchased from a carnival in Ireland. Originally manufactured for an amusement park, it was refurbished by Deggeller, with new scenery added. This is Deggeller's fourth Coaster. The others are what MacNeill described as the L&T Wild Mouse, SDC Wildcat, and Zierer Flitzer. It's MacNeill's job to move the KMG Hydra, KMG Space Port, which is called a Speed; Huss Enterprise, Huss Flipper, and Huss Top Spin Jr., which is currently being refurbished. Among the spectaculars set up at Green Cove Springs were the Chance Giant Wheel, Wildcat Coaster, which Deggeller calls the Riptide, Hydra, Speed, and Enterprise.

In the official wrap-up of the March 14-April 7 Miami-Dade County Fair, Melissa Lichtenheld, Group Account Director for Wragg & Cass Strategic Communications, said attendance was 552,404, which represented an increase of 21 per cent over 2018. Eddie Cora, first year president and chief executive officer, was quoted, in part, as saying, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome.

“Our strategy was to give guests the best value for their dollar and the numbers show we succeeded. Once again, we thank our concessionaires for their generosity toward our Scholarship Program. Their annual fundraising event (a golf tournament) contributed more than $60,000.” He added that North American Midway Entertainment's most popular ride was a Double Decker Carousel.

Successful promotions included two $3 days on March 20 and April 3, drawing nearly 30,000 guests for $3 admission, $3 select foods, and $3 games. Pay-One-Price unlimited rides were $23, a savings of $5. The 21-day admission pass saw a 28 per cent increase over the previous year of sales, which was 2017, because that was not offered in 2018. As NAME's Tony Diaz said, “It was a great run.”

I received a message from Darrell Desgranges, the Mizuno Pro, which said, “Tom: Glad to hear you are doing well after surgery. Our team in the Miami-Dade County Red Thornberry/Youth Fair Scholarship Golf Classic at the Melrose Country Club on April 1 comprised of Butch Netterfield, Jeff Blomsness, Duke Trombetti, John John (John Marconi), and Scotty Lane.” Trombetti, by the way, who once was in the carnival business, is now golf pro at the Country Club of Coral Springs.

Desgranges noted that April 1 was also the birthday of Blomsness and to celebrate, he converted a 30 foot putt. “Over 650 steak and lobster dinners were served at the fairgrounds in the Netterfield Food Court, and Dennis Fraleigh's (Butcher Boys) provided the music.”

Continuing, Desgranges, who is very good at providing me news, said he and Butch were still bummed out about Lou Piniella not making Baseball's Hall of Fame, “one vote short.” Butch and Lou grew up together while Butch lived in Trailer Village (Fowler and Nebraska) in Tampa. Others who lived in the park included Chris Christy, Danny Fleenor, Joie Chitwood, Jack Coxman, and many other notables from the business. Trailer Village was also the largest Spartan trailer dealer in the 1950s.

“Butch tells of the Chitwoods practicing a new stunt in the park, of blowing up a casket with a person in it with dynamite.” That had to be Benny (Boom Boom) Koske). Desgranges said the charge was overloaded, blowing the windows out of most of the trailers in the park. I believe it.

Desgranges finished with, “Spring is close in Michigan and Outdoor Mizuno Golf Promotions start this Saturday (April 6). Thanks for keeping us informed about the business.” Signed, “Your friend, Darrell Desgranges.” What memories he conjured up about Pinella, great player and manager whom I recall most as the right fielder for the New York Yankees; Christy, a huge Boston Red Sox fan, and former first class food operator, Fleenor,  who had the Hurricane Hell Drivers, and Joie Chitwood, whose daredevil thrill show I enjoyed watching numerous times at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

Patty Dee, concession manager at Miami-Dade, informed me that Bruce Beck, who was the No. 8 food grossing operator, is the fair's new beer vendor. “His company name is Professional Concessions, Inc., and he does the alcohol at the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach.” Dee also said that Vicki Hunter, who came in 10th, with Fries, was Vicki’s last time she played the fair. I guess she got married.

Michael Kramer, whose Funtime Foods was No. 1 again, with roasted corn, said his next booking isn't until the Ohio State Fair, Columbus, where he sells tater tots. Other fairs on his route include Erie County, Hamburg, N. Y.; New York State, Syracuse; State Fair of Virginia, Richmond; North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, and for the second year in a row, Georgia National Fair, Perry. “We wound up having a great experience there last year and doing well, despite losing a day to the hurricane.”

Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 319-1258.

Have all great days, and God Bless!

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