Tom and Mary Talley's Talley's Amusements of Fort Worth, Texas, had a great run in their first year of supplying the carnival midway at the July 24-Aug. 4 Ohio State Fair, Columbus, where excellent weather helped attendance grow to 934,925, an increase of three per cent over that of 2018.
“We were very well received by the public and fair officials and we had a great midway with 78 rides,” said Mary Talley, whose late father, Buster Brown, owned Bill Hames Shows, with her mom, Barbara. “I haven't had a chance to go over all the figures yet, but it was a lot of money, well over last year, something like 28 or 29 per cent, as far as midway revenue.” Alicia Schoults, the fair's Marketing and Public Relations Director, confirmed that it was up by 28 percent. “We were told they can't wait for us to be back again next year. One person wrote a letter that he had been attending the fair for 52 years and by being there this year was like receiving an unwrapped Christmas gift. That's a pretty damn good compliment,” said a very happy Mary Talley.
Talley took delivery of a 100 foot tall ARM Vertigo and Downdraft from Battech this year, and completely refurbished its Orbiter. Added to the ride arsenal last year was a 33 meter tall Lamberink Ferris Wheel, Iron Dragon Roller Coaster, and Beast.
Among those booked in with games were Paul Nemeth, Michael Winchester, and Joey Fowler, three of the best in the business. Bringing in rides were Steve Vander Vorste, with his Crazy Mouse Roller Coaster; Patrick Sheridan's Alamo Amusements, with a Kite Flyer; Kissel Amusements, with 14 rides; Michael and Thomas Lauther with a Fun House, Dark Ride, and Glass House; Steve Ianni, who travels regularly with Strates Shows, Red Carpet Amusements, a Circus Train and King Circus; Skerbeck Shows, with a Toboggan and Central Park Train; Jeremy and Kate Floyd's Topscan, with a Space Roller, Wiggle Worm and Flying Elephant.
Also, Jay and Vicki Clements of Triple T Amusements, booked a Mini Indy; Primetime, with a Sea Ray and Sizzler; Tony Porter's T&D Concessions, Haunted Mansion; Monkey Maze, two rides; Clinton and Meagan Sims of M&C Attractions, four pieces, and Joyce Hutchins, Joyride, a Storm and Mini Whully Gully. The Talley's State Fair Spectacular added six pieces, and the lineup was rounded out by the permanent Slide of Vivona Family Entertainment, whose Amusements of America had provided the midway at the fair for the previous 25 years.
Upcoming for the Talleys are the North Texas Fair and Rodeo, Denton, Aug. 16-23; Delta Fair & Music Festival, Memphis, Tennessee, Aug. 30-Sept. 8, and State Fair of Texas, Dallas, Sept. 27-Oct. 20.
Brett Chance, who has been booking entertainment at the fair for 29 years, said this year's lineup was one of the best. Gabriel Iglesias: Beyond the Fluffy World Tour, drew a sellout crowd of 9,500. Hank Williams Jr. was the second best draw. “It went into percentages,” said Chance. Brett's late dad, Dean Chance, was not only a respected carnival games concessionaire and boxing promoter, but outstanding Major League Baseball pitcher, who won the Cy Young Award in 1961, when he threw 11 shutouts.
Brett recalled that Toby Keith was the first act he ever booked at the Celeste Center, through the late Steve Dahl of Monterey Attractions. He had Keith back this year, with special guest Jimmie Allen. “Keith did very well, as did most of our acts.” Others included KIDZ BOP World Tour 2019, Chris Young, Lyle Jennings, Charlie Moore, and Carl Thomas; The All Ohio State Fair Band and Youth Choir, a John Denver Tribute, featuring Ted Vigil; Matthew West, with Matt Maher; REO Speedwagon, with Night Ranger; The S.O.S. Band/Midnight Star; Bad Company, with Foghat, and The Happy Together Tour, with The Turtles Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap; The Buckinghams, The Classics IV, and The Cowsills. A special attraction was Jack Hanna's crew with the Columbus Zoo Animals show
The July 18-27 Delaware State Fair, Harrington, overcame five days of what General Manager Bill DiMondi described as brutally hot weather, to set an all-time attendance record of 328,000, which was up 12 per cent over 2018. Records were broken when 54,000 turned out on the closing Saturday, and 48,000 on a Wednesday. The Budweiser Clydesdales were a big hit, as were eight nights of fireworks.
After the hot opening, when heat indices averaged 108 degrees, DiMondi said, “We had milder daytime temperatures with lower humidity, and crisp nights.” Assistant GM Danny Aguilar noted that the official Centennial M&T Grandstand entertainment schedule featured two sold out shows by Reba McEntire and the hot selling country duo of Dan + Shay. Other acts included Sugarland, Gladys Knight, Darci Lynne, America's Got Talent Winner; Brantley Gilbert, Brothers Osborne, Christian artists Bethel Music, and demolition derby.
Approximately 50,000 fans attended. Aguilar said pit tickets, those located directly in front of the stage, and the VIP concert packages were in high demand.
Frank Zaitshik of Wade Shows, who again provided the midway said he was proud to work with DiMondi and Board of Directors President Ron Draper in helping to make the fair's centennial celebration such a winner. “I never would have dreamed that after being behind by six figures through Wednesday that we wound wind up by more than six figures by the time we finished. It was great.”
Zaitshik said the season has been solid so far, after good runs at the Central Florida Fair, Orlando, where he gave most of the credit to General Manager Shawn Krauel, and the Aaron Owen-managed Ozark Empire Fair, Springfield, Mo., held July 25-Aug. 3. Zaitshik said that after the show closed Saturday in Springfield, he flew to Kansas City and then to Syracuse to lay out the lot for the New York State Fair.
Vickie Hayward, spokesperson for the Ozark Empire Fair, said attendance was up over last year's figure of 165,000. “We had one night of rain, but other than that, weather was great.” Acts included Kansas and Shaun Munday, Michael Ray and Neil McCoy, For King and Country, and Stars Go Dim, along with Sea Lion Splash, Scott's World of Magic, Bandaloni, and Hedrick's Exotic Petting Zoo.
Zaitshik and Owen, who has been GM at Springfield for seven years, are now at the Aug. 8-18 Missouri State Fair, Sedalia. Frank said he is getting ready to fly to Nebraska to help Mike Thomas lay out the lot for the Nebraska State Fair, which is held in Grand Island. Asked about independent operators at any of the spots, he said the only one was Mark Cox, brother of Show Manager Tom (Red) Cox, who is actually a regular on the carnival, with four or five kiddie rides.
The Missouri talent lineup includes Dwight Yoakum, with King Leg, The Struts, with White Reaper, Brantley Gilbert, with Jobe Fortner, Tyler Childers, with Brent Cobb, Foreigner and Night Ranger, and Brothers Osborne, with Ashley McBryde.
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