Dave Cavallaro's MouthTrap, which sells cheese curds, is always in the top five food grossing items at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, and this year was no exception.
This is the same Cavallaro who has the first booth on the left every year at the February trade show of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton, Fla. His Cavallaro Concessions of Mendota Heights, Minn., sells lemon shaped fiberglass lemonade units that are cleverly called elemonaders.
He wrote a note to me saying, “Boy, when they say about our business that when weather is good, so is the business, truer words were never spoken. That statement really personified the 2019 Great Minnesota Get Together, as the fair is called in these parts.”
Cavallaro said that with the exception of a rainy Monday and a little drizzle one other day, “We had perfect 70 degree highs and sunshine throughout. And the people came out, setting another attendance record. Our Mouth Trap concession was up almost eight per cent.”
“We employ approximately 110 students from local schools and 15 to 20 adults who perform the frying. The adults who came from temporary help agencies and local ads I placed were more frustrating to deal with than all the kids combined. If anybody wanted to make a case for hiring H-2B Visa employees, they should have been at my stand for a few days. I'm definitely concerned about the status of the American workers in the future. But we got through it.” I guess!
I received a report on the fair from Jim Sinclair, Deputy General Manager to Jerry Hammer. Attendance was 2,126,551, up by 80,818, or four per cent over 2018. There were 29 rides on the Midway and 30 on the Kidway, plus 48 games of skill.
Total ride gross was $4,385,156.08 (that's how meticulous and precise Sinclair is). That was up by $394,134.22, or 9.9 per cent. Games gross was $3,625,902.80, up $483,312.88, or 15.4 per cent.
Sinclair pointed out that does not cover off-midway attractions such as the Giant Wheel of Michael Wood and Frank Zaitshik of Wade Shows; Fred Pittroff's Giant Slide, the Haunted House, Sky Glider, Space Tower, Old Mill, Skyride, and attractions presented in Adventure Park. Pittroff, for one, told me he had his best year ever, as did his wife, Carmel Dyer Pittroff, with her Australian Battered Potatoes. They're off until next year at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, Australia, where Pittroff is the only U. S. person booked.
The top grossing ride was the Crazy Mouse Spinning Roller Coaster of Steve Vander Vorste, who was also No. 1 at the San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, California, earlier this year.
Following that, in order, were the Starship 3000 of Kyle Wisdom's Laser Fair; New York New York Funhouse of Joey Weaver for Bobby Myers and his mother, Gloria; Sky Flyer, Reithoffer Shows’ Wave Swinger, Myers, which books as Fair Ride Entertainment; Puppy Express, Maurice and Doug Haworth of Prime Pacific Entertainment; Techno Power, Michael Wood; Equinox, Laser Fair; Air Maxx, Mariah Duchow's Mr. Ed's Magical Midway; Cliff Hanger, Arnold Amusements; Haunted Castle Dark Ride, Myers; Tilt-A-Whirl, Michael Lauther and his son, Thomas, of Lauther Amusements; Beach Party, Derek and Catherine Long of D&K Amusements; Alpine Bobs, Blake and Katrine McDonagh's B-Thrilled Attractions, and Flipper Coaster, Steve Vander Vorste.
In the games department, Candy Anderson was in first, seventh and tenth place, fortifying her belief that “if you keep it small, you keep it all.” Gary Oren's Concessions was in second and third place.
Michael Winchester of Diversified Amusements was fourth; Jack D. Cook and Tony Cassata of Cassata Concessions fifth, eleventh, and fifteenth. Jeff Bossman's JBS Concessions was sixth; Dave and Monica Potopas, eighth and twelfth; Kimberly Oren's Kim O's Concessions, ninth; Casey Trejo, thirteenth, and John L. Magel Sr., fourteenth.
Deggeller Attractionshad a great run at the York, Pa. Fair, oldest in the country, which was first held in 1765. Attendance was up 18 per cent from 450,173 in 2018, to 529,574. It was the first year as general manager for Bryan Blair, who replaced Michael Froehlich, who retired and moved back to Perry, Ga., where he had managed the Georgia National Fair before taking over at York.
Blair spent the last four years as general manager of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair and Agricultural Exposition in Goshen, Indiana. The midway there was provided by Blake Huston of North American Midway Entertainment. Prior to Goshen, Blair spent six years at the Kentucky State Fair, Louisville, where he was in charge of sponsorship and event marketing. NAME had the midway there.
“We had great weather and a good talent lineup that was booked through Todd Bolton of Variety Attractions” said Blair. He said that former Variety owners George and Shirley Moffett visited the fair. “We covered the cost of five of the six shows.”
After the last fair, the Board decided to move the dates for 2020 to July 24-Aug. 2. I asked how that would have an effect on Deggeller's route, and Blair said details on that are being negotiated now. The Board's move was intended to avoid the hurricane season. Rain fell on five days during last year's fair.
The talent lineup included Brad Paisley, with Payton Smith and Tyler Rich; Darci Lynne; The Outlaws and Renegades; Brantley Gilbert, with Muscadine Bloodline; Tesla, Bethel Music, Let Freedom Ring, with Kayla Kroh, Shatter X, Stoney Lonesome, and David Bray; Kachunga & The Alligator; Max Power & Nitro, Wild Wheels Thrill Show, Ryan Hurd, Garrett Schultz, Jimmie Allen, Filmore, Tyler Farr, Gabby Barrett, High Valley, Monster Trucks, a firefighter training show, and Demolition Derby.
The Aug. 23-Sept. 2 Colorado State Fair, Pueblo, had an attendance of 466,380 that was up five per cent over last year. Crabtree Amusements had a great run on the carnival midway, and general admission revenue increased by 31 per cent. Fiesta Day attendance was the largest it has been in a decade, according to Scott Stoller, general manager. He noted a presentation by Temple Grandin and the World Slopper Eating Championship helped drive the increased numbers. The contest involved Colorado beef, and Pueblo green chilis, and generated nationwide news coverage.
Entertainment included Brett Young, 38 Special, The Beach Boys, Halestorm, Aaron Watson, Ramon Ayala, Granger Smith, featuring Earl Dibbles Jr., Banda Machos, Demolition Derby, the All American High Dive Show, Hypnotist Richard Barker, Comedian Farmer Phil, and the acrobatic Salida Circus.
Gary Slater, manager/CEO of the Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, was asked if this year's record-breaking fair exceeded expectations.
He answered, “The recipe for records included unseasonably nice weather, an outstanding grandstand lineup, competition from livestock to quilts, new daytime programming, more than 50 new foods, and a national stump speech spotlight.” The attendance of 1,170,375 broke the record of 1,130,260 set in 2018. “We've had attendance numbers over one million since 2002.” Everything Slater said sounds like a terrific recipe for success, especially the quilts.
I only have two doctor appointments this week, but after my collegiate and pro football picks last week I might need to see a banker instead. How does Washington State blow a 32 point lead, and who knew Belichick would pull Tom Brady early from the New England Patriots? At least Notre Dame covered against Georgia.
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Have all great days, and God Bless!