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  • Wed, December 11, 2019 5:54 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    The 113th annual State Fair of Louisiana, Shreveport, held Oct. 20-Nov. 10, with Mondays and Tuesdays off, was a success, according to Chris Giordano, president/GM, who said attendance was 371,300.

    We had three days of rain, which forced us to close on two of those,” said Giordano. “Luckily, none of the rain fell on weekends, and Crabtree Amusements posted a ride gross of $1,647,000, which was up five per cent over last year, when it was $1.5 million.

    Our attendance figures don't fluctuate much from year to year,” said Giordano. Chris took over the reins after the death of his father, Sam Giordano, in May of 2006. This was his 14th year, and the first year of a new three-year midway contract for Crabtree.

    Booking in with Crabtree were his daughter Melissa, and her husband, Brandon Kibby, of Paradise Amusements, with nine rides and food; Patrick Sheridan's Alamo Rides, with six kiddies; Skerbeck Entertainment, a 360, Cliffhanger, Flying Elephant, and one more. Asked about a 360, Giordano said, “It's a big ride.”

    Among concessionaires were the Bill and Linda McKinney family, with food. “Bill and Linda are retired, but they were represented by their sons, Adam and Ron, and Adam's son, Alan,” said Giordano.

    Also there were Larry Smith of Gold Concessions, with turkey legs and barbecue; Jim Swain, with pizza on a stick, Porky's, and many others. The fair's concession manager is Robb Brazzel, who recently graduated from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions’ Institute of Fair Management in San Antonio.

    Three nights of LRCA Rodeo drew big crowds at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum. Other entertainment included Ms. Stevana's Friesian Horse Show, Serge Coronas Hollywood Racing Pigs, Circus Hollywood, horse show and camel show; Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, Kenya Safari Acrobats, Hydro Flying Circus, Magician Bob Bohm, State Fair Zoo, Survivor Family Game Show, Dallas the Fire Guy, Flo the Clown, Nick the Escape Artist, Animal Cracker Conspiracy Stiltwalkers, and Break Dancing Show by World Stage Productions.

    Promotions included a $47 Pay-One-Price unlimited ride and gate entrance armband; $35 ride armbands; free admission on weekdays until 3 p.m., and on Thursdays, $2 for gate, parking, and rides.

    David Musselman's Capital International Productions of Negley, Ohio, booked what Giordano described as a Jet Pack Flying Water Circus that used the talents of The Nerveless Nocks. “This was the first fair for them to try it.” Other acts were booked inhouse.

    Crabtree and his wife, Cheryl (Tink), keep their carnival, based in Staples, Texas, open year-round. They are now set up in San Marcos, Texas, for a Holiday Celebration, and have a Big Wheel and Carousel set up for the holidays at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.

    It's always fun for me to talk to Chris because my wife, Christine and I had so many good times with his parents, Sam and Gayle. I asked about Gayle and he said she was doing well.

    Oddly enough, Crabtree comes into Shreveport from the Heart of Texas Fair, Waco, where Sam managed for several years. I first met Sam when he worked for T. Wilson Sparks at the Mid-South Fair, Memphis, and later when he worked several years for Rod Link.

    We all lost a couple of greats with the passing of Marilyn Portemont, 95, on Dec. 8, and Jack Silar, 71, on Dec. 3. Marilyn and her late husband of 50 years, Johnny Portemont, owned Johnny's United Shows, and later, All American Shows. Silar was at one time general manager of Hershey Park in Hershey, Pa., and vice president of Sports & Entertainment. He often told me how proud he was of the fact he was the only operations person to ever hold those positions. Silar and his wife, Gretchen, owned a carnival, White Rose Amusements, based in Hummelstown, Pa., and he was one of the most noted ride inspectors in the country. Silar was chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials. I first met him through his mentor at Hershey Park, Bob Payne, who was a great friend to both of us.

    Everybody knew Marilyn, with her flamboyant hats and sunglasses. She used to make banana pudding for Johnny Hobbs and me when the show played the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, Tenn. Pat Heagerty worked in the office and Joe Royal, who always made sure my kids got plenty of stuffed toys, was concession manager. Visiting the Portemont carnival at any spot was akin to dropping in on family.

    I think she attended 72 straight Indianapolis 500 races. Bill Johnson of A Fantasy Amusements, a past chair of OABA, called to say he and his wife joined her and her daughter Suzette Hooper and her husband, Scotty, at several, along with Joann and her son Tommy Davis of Davis Amusements of Colton, California.

    Every time she'd come through Nashville on the way to the race, they would call me and Johnny Hobbs, and when Hobbs owned a campground, she always wanted to stay in the same space. We introduced her to Brenda Lee, Vern Gosdin, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jack Green, and numerous other country music stars. I remember Greater Tampa Association and Las Vegas banquets where the band would always play Dixie in honor of the Portemonts who were proudly from Andalusia, Alabama, though native Hoosiers.

    The Portemonts used to have the best suites at the Alabama Fair Conventions, where the show's Lloyd Kelley would play the piano into the wee hours of the morning. I know, because I was usually the last to leave. Marilyn loved to party. The OABA honored her a couple of years ago with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was well deserved and long overdue. We were sitting next to each other when we were both inducted into the Showmen's League of America's Hall of Honor, along with the late Larry Davis.

    Ron Burback of Funtastic Shows, Portland, Oregon, whose Oregon Ducks will be playing the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl, called to say that the Northwestern Showmen's Club, whose president is Christine Hoss, has selected Greg Stewart as its Show Person of the Year. Stewart, an OABA director, has been general manager of the Central Washington State Fair, Yakima, for 48 years.

    Stewart also oversees management of the 8,000-seat SunDome, Yakima County Stadium, and State Fair Raceway.

    Fred Munoz, son-in-law to Ron and his wife, Bev, was club president last year when the club honored my wife, Christine, who received a beautiful trophy from Bobby and Wendy Hauser of West Coast Amusements when they visited us at our home in Nashville. Greg was president of the Midwest Fairs Association in 2006. A past president of IAFE, Stewart was inducted into that group's Hall of Fame in 2010. He is truly a great guy.

    Cindy Henning, executive director of the Showmen's League of America said everything is set for the 72nd annual Dec. 13 Christmas party for needy children at Hanson Elementary School in Chicago. I believe Peter Kasin is still Santa Claus after Don Muret, who worked with me at Amusement Business, filled that role for several years. All children receive a toy, popcorn, and cotton candy.

    Christine and I both received good news when we visited our family doctor on Monday. He said she doesn't have heart problems and she can drive, which was a big relief for her. I have a lump behind my ear, and the biopsy showed it may get worse, but now it's fine.

    With the help of my daughter, Alice, and my great grandson, Hayden Stanley, we got our Christmas tree up and decorated. It looks beautiful. My son, Kevin, as he always does, set up my Lionel electric train, which was given to me at birth, 86 years ago, by my uncle Marty Hutchinson, a railroader. It still runs like new.

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

  • Tue, December 10, 2019 7:17 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices* 
     (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      11/25/19 12/02/19 12/09/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.066 3.070 3.049   values are down -0.021 values are down -0.112
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.054 3.059 3.050   values are down -0.009 values are down -0.144
    New England (PADD1A) 3.063 3.078 3.085   values are up 0.007 values are down -0.210
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.247 3.246 3.241   values are down -0.005 values are down -0.127
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.921 2.928 2.914   values are down -0.014 values are down -0.139
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.969 2.982 2.966   values are down -0.016 values are down -0.100
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.776 2.779 2.759   values are down -0.020 values are down -0.175
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.246 3.241 3.207   values are down -0.034 values are down -0.032
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.720 3.704 3.647   values are down -0.057 values are down -0.005
    West Coast less California 3.387 3.382 3.323   values are down -0.059 values are down -0.034
    California 3.983 3.960 3.904   values are down -0.056 values are up 0.017
    *prices include all taxes


  • Thu, December 05, 2019 4:22 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Dick Knoebel, who reported another banner season at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa., was nice enough to send a more personal note after he attended the amusement park show in Orlando.

    Tom, I made it to IAAPA and the OABA reception, but it just wasn't the same without you and Christine. I SURELY hope you can make it to Gibtown. We are now the LAST OF AN ERA with the passing of Johnny Hobbs.

    While here, Jeannie and I, along with Gary Slade and John Robinson attended the Tampa Bay Buccaneers/New Orleans Saints football game. We were seated in the Mary Chris Smith (of Allied Specialty Insurance) family box. The Bucs played somewhat well though the quarterback, Jamis Winston, had too many hits.

    Slade met one of Dick Yuengling's daughters in the tailgate area. While at the game, one of Mary Chris's sisters, was continuing to celebrate her Double Nickel (55th) birthday for a week. You have probably received lots of other reports from IAAPA. Carry On!”

    I first attended the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions convention in 1972, and I believe it was in Atlanta. I never missed another until few years ago. The best were in New Orleans, which is a town made for that show, although Orlando has been very good. I recall when it was in Dallas and we visited the Southfork Ranch, from the television show, Dallas.

    There was a J. R. Ewing imitator there who looked more like the actor, Larry Hagman, who played him, than the real deal. He remained in character and when I invited him to our Amusement Business suite when his shift was over; I even told him to bring his wife.” Wife, hell, I'll bring my girlfriend,” he replied. My son, Tommy, who lives in beautiful, but frigid Minneapolis, noted the other day that Hagman died 10 years ago.

    The International Association of Fairs & Expositions, Showmen's League of America and Outdoor Amusement Business Association are now convening in San Antonio for the second or third straight year after about 45 years in a row in Las Vegas. I have been to conventions in Las Vegas. I have also been to conventions in Rapid City, South Dakota, Mobile, Alabama, Little Rock, Arkansas, Boston, Washington, D. C., and numerous big and little towns, but I can say, unequivocally, none compares to Las Vegas.

    Maybe that's just me, but I think about the World War I song about “How are you going to keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paree.” Vegas, with all the great shows and restaurants and reasonable prices has so much more to offer.

    After growing up in Scranton, Pa., and living in Nashville, which was dry at the time, Vegas was and continued to be an eye opener for me. Christine and I have been guests at lavish parties and suites hosted by Ray Cammack Shows, Strates Shows, Powers Great American Midways, Reithoffer Shows, Rod Link, Conklin Shows, Cumberland Valley Shows, Royal American Shows, James H. Drew Exposition, Gooding's Million Dolllar Midway, Amusements of America, Jerry Murphy's Murphy Brothers Exposition, Jim Murphy, when he owned Mighty Bluegrass Shows, and others.

    I talked to Charles Panacek of Belle City Amusements earlier today and asked how he liked San Antonio. Being somewhat politically correct, he laughed and said, “We're meeting with our committees and getting all of our business done.” Beyond that, Panacek was non-committal about the Tale of the Two Cities.

    He did say the Nov. 7-17 Greater Jacksonville, Fla. Fair was plagued by rain on three days and cold weather. “It resulted in attendance and revenues being down.” Panacek said Martha Leverock retired after serving 40 years as president and CEO. She was replaced by Bill Olson, who had been with the fair for many years.

    Gayle Hart, vice president of marketing, continues to book the talent. She and Olson are also representing the fair in sunny San Antonio. Belle City is in the middle of a 12-year contract to provide the midway in Jacksonville. “This year we created a totally separate Kiddieland that proved to be a big hit,” said Panacek, who promised to name the addition of a new date on its route soon.

    Belle City works with Alachua County in presenting a fair in Gainesville, Fla., a week before Jacksonville. He said it was very good this year. The carnival has everything under its auspices, including booking talent, providing security, selling tickets, booking independent contractors, parking, providing the midway, etc.

    Booked at Jacksonville were Butch Van Hull, with a Roller Coaster, Bryce Burton, with a Zipper, and food; Gary Hughes, with rides and food, and Josh Macaroni's Primetime Amusements, with rides and food. Dave Potopas and his wife, Monica, spent most of the summer with games on Tony Diaz's Unit of North American Midway Entertainment, which plays major Canadian dates. He returns as concession manager for Belle City on its winter route.

    Amber Swedjan and Dave Kitt handle marketing for Belle City, along with employee training, guest relations, and social media. The show has the honor of playing the first date of 2020, the Jan. 16-26 Manatee County Fair, Palmetto, Fla., which opens one day before the South Florida Fair, West Palm Beach, where Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows again provides the carnival midway.

    Booking with Belle City in Palmetto will be Gary Hughes, Bryce Burton, and T. J. Schmidt Amusements, owned by Sandi Schmidt, who is the sister of Jon and Tom Arnold of Arnold Amusements.

    Talent at Jacksonville included Chris Janson, Uncle Kracker, Blanco Brown, the Eli Young Band, Blue Oyster Cult, Kazual, Lane Pittman, and from Nov. 13-17, the Dennis Lee Band and Kari and Billy. Also, a three ring super circus, with The Wheel of Adventure, Jump Rope of Fire, Globe of Steele with amazing motorcycle stunt men, and The Amazing Franco Clown Juggler Extraordinaire.

    Also, Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show, Robinson's Racing Pigs (I remember when Paul and Carlotta Robinson first introduced them as a new act), Agri-Puppets, Stingray Encounter, Amazing Bubble Factory, and Marvin Gardner, Rust and Flame Blacksmith.

    The first time I visited that fair A. J. (Sonny) Dickerson was concession manager for Jim Murphy and Christine and I flew there on the private plane of our late, dear friend, Danny Davis of The Nashville Brass. We had first flown with him to Shreveport for the C. Ed Nelson-managed State Fair of Louisiana. Davis, whose real name was George Nowlin, performed at both dates.

    Hart said Janson, Blue Oyster Cult and Blanco Brown drew the biggest crowds. “Brown was amazing. He had performed the night before on the Country Music Association Awards Show.” I asked how she heard about him, and it was from a local DJ. Hart recalls a year when she booked Luke Bryan for $700, another, when she booked him for $2,800, and wonders how much it would take now.

    As many of you know, my beautiful wife, Christine, suffered a seizure on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. My daughter, Alice Stanley, called 911, and she was rushed to a hospital. Thank God, Christine came home on Thanksgiving morning. She's upset that she won't be able to drive for a while, but we're counting our blessings. She's supposed to avoid stress, but where can I go?

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

  • Wed, December 04, 2019 12:13 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    SAN ANTONIO, TX — December 4, 2019 — Nancy Smith, CFE, of the South Carolina State Fair in Columbia was elected the 2020 chair of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) today during the final business session of the 129th IAFE Annual Convention. The convention began Dec. 1 and continues through today at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.

    Smith serves as the general manager of the South Carolina State Fair and has more than 30 years of experience in the fair industry. She began her fair work in the home and craft department of the South Carolina State Fair in 1983 and assumed a full-time position at the fair in 2000 as director of entertainment and exhibits and eventually directed the State Fair's marketing, advertising, and sponsorship departments. Smith was promoted to assistant manager of the fair in February of 2008 and was named secretary/treasurer/general manager in January of 2018.

    Smith is a graduate of the Institute of Fair Management and earned her Certified Fair Executive (CFE) designation from the IAFE in 2006. She has since remained actively involved in the fair industry statewide and internationally.

    She served as IAFE Zone 2 director from 2015 to 2017, representing South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. She was named second vice chair of the IAFE in 2018, assisting the chair with executive responsibilities associated with the organization in preparation for her role as IAFE chair in 2020. She served on the South Carolina Association of Fairs' board of directors for several years and completed two terms as president from 2013 to 2016, while hosting and planning the association's summer meetings several years.

    Smith was awarded the Honorary State FFA (Future Farmers of America) Degree in 2010 and the Honorary American FFA Degree in October of 2018.

    A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Smith previously operated a catering business. She is a member of First Presbyterian Associate Reformed Church in Columbia and serves on the SC Philharmonic's Advisory Board and the Board of Directors of the Babcock Center Foundation.

    The South Carolina State Fair, the state's largest event, is a self-supported, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the state's agricultural roots while supporting statewide education. The State Fair awards more than $300,000 in scholarships each year.

    You can use our hashtag if you post this story on social media: #IAFE2019.


    The International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), based in Springfield, Mo., is a voluntary, nonprofit corporation, serving state, provincial, regional, and county agricultural fairs, shows, exhibitions, and expositions. Its associate members include state and provincial associations of fairs, non-agricultural expositions and festivals, associations, corporations, and individuals engaged in providing products and services to its members, all of whom are interested in the improvement of fairs, shows, expositions, and allied fields.

    Contact: Rebekah Lee: rebekahl@fairsandexpos.com or 800-516-0313

  • Tue, December 03, 2019 12:27 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    SAN ANTONIO, TX — December 2, 2019 — Today at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) 129th Annual Convention, Kent Hojem of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup was inducted into the IAFE Hall of Fame. The IAFE Convention is taking place Dec. 1-4 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The highest honor bestowed by the IAFE, the Hall of Fame Award is presented annually in recognition of an individual's distinguished achievement in, or contribution to, the fair industry.

    Hojem joined the Washington State Fair in March 1996 and has served as CEO since January 2005. He oversees all operations of the fair and fair properties, including the Washington State Fair each September and the Washington State Spring Fair each April. He also serves as secretary of the Washington State Fair Foundation. Prior to joining the state fair, Hojem served as assistant manager of the Southwest Washington Fair in Chehalis and later as manager of the Thurston County Fair in Lacey, Wash.

    He served on the IAFE Board of Directors for many years, culminating in his service as chair in 2016. Hojem earned his Certified Fair Executive designation from the IAFE in 2009 and has served on numerous IAFE committees including the Physical Plant Operation and Nominating committees and as chair on the International Development, Budget and Finance, and Spring Conference committees.

    Hojem has been involved in numerous youth and livestock committees and foundations over the years. He is past chair and current board member of Washington State 4-H Foundation and has served as past chair and currently serves as the facilitator for the Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Institute. He is a board member and past chair of Communities In Schools in Puyallup and a past board member of Communities In Schools of Washington.

    Hojem was born and raised in Chehalis, where he showed dairy cattle in 4-H. He was a mathematical sciences major at Stanford University. He and his wife Carolyn live in Puyallup and are surrounded by family, including Criss (wife, Andie) and Trent (wife, Toni), and four grandchildren: Tucker, Sydney, Monica, and Mackenzie.

    You can use our hashtag if you post this story on social media: #IAFE2019.


    The International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), based in Springfield, Mo., is a voluntary, nonprofit corporation, serving state, provincial, regional, and county agricultural fairs, shows, exhibitions, and expositions. Its associate members include state and provincial associations of fairs, non-agricultural expositions and festivals, associations, corporations, and individuals engaged in providing products and services to its members, all of whom are interested in the improvement of fairs, shows, expositions, and allied fields.


    Contact: Rebekah Lee: rebekahl@fairsandexpos.com or 800-516-0313

  • Tue, December 03, 2019 12:16 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release - November 19, 2019
    Contact: Tim Shea, Executive Director
    Champlain Valley Exposition
    802-878-5545 | tshea@cvexpo.org

    Essex Junction, VT - The Champlain Valley Exposition (CVE) announced today that they have extended their contract with Strates Shows Inc. as the exclusive midway provider for the Champlain Valley Fair. Strates Shows has been at CVE since 2015. This new five-year contract will run from the 2020 through the 2024 Champlain Valley Fair.

    “We are thrilled to have Strates Shows with us for another five years. Over the life of our first contract, Strates has provided our guests with a safe, professional, and entertaining experience. We look forward to working with them for another five years.” said Tim Shea, Executive Director of CVE.

    “Preparations are underway for the Centennial Celebration of the Champlain Valley Fair in 2021. Strates Shows will play a key role in the celebration of the Fair’s history and that of the Vermont agricultural community,” Shea added

    “We are very excited to continue providing our world class attractions at the Champlain Valley Exposition.  We have seen excellent growth over the last five years and look forward to five more years of success.  I also think it is unique that during this next few years both the Exposition (in 2021) and Strates Shows (in 2023) will celebrate 100-year anniversaries.” said Jay Strates, Director Strates Shows.

    About the Champlain Valley Fair

    The Champlain Valley Fair, an agricultural fair, is Vermont’s largest annual event and averages 120,000 guests of the 10-day run. The 2020 Champlain Valley Fair will open on August 28th and continue through September 6th. The event is managed by the Champlain Valley Exposition.

    About Strates Shows

    Unique among today’s amusement operators, Strates Shows is the only “railroad carnival” in North America. Each spring Strates Shows leaves its winter quarters in Orlando Florida and begins a nine-month journey by rail that transports their equipment to fairgrounds along the eastern seaboard and across the northeast. The “fair train,” is comprised of over 50 rail cars. Essex Junction Vermont is the northern most stop on their annual journey.

  • Mon, December 02, 2019 11:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices* 
     (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      11/18/19 11/25/19 12/02/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.074 3.066 3.070   values are up 0.004 values are down -0.137
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.053 3.054 3.059   values are up 0.005 values are down -0.170
    New England (PADD1A) 3.049 3.063 3.078   values are up 0.015 values are down -0.232
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.246 3.247 3.246   values are down -0.001 values are down -0.148
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.922 2.921 2.928   values are up 0.007 values are down -0.170
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.971 2.969 2.982   values are up 0.013 values are down -0.135
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.792 2.776 2.779   values are up 0.003 values are down -0.210
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.232 3.246 3.241   values are down -0.005 values are down -0.050
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.756 3.720 3.704   values are down -0.016 values are up 0.010
    West Coast less California 3.444 3.387 3.382   values are down -0.005 values are down -0.024
    California 4.003 3.983 3.960   values are down -0.023 values are up 0.038
    *prices include all taxes


  • Thu, November 21, 2019 5:27 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Amusements of America had a record run at the Oct. 31-Nov. 10 Coastal Carolina Fair, Ladson, S.C., before ending a long season the next week at the Okefenokee Fair, Waycross, Georgia.

    Dale Bush, who was already with the show, is the new concession manager. According to Rob Vivona, an OABA director, the carnival that is owned by the Vivona family, was set for its annual trek to Puerto Rico for dates at Roberto Clemente Stadium in San Juan, Nov. 20-Jan. 7. “We went there for many years, stopped for a while, and have been going back for quite a while since,” said Rob.

    In charge of the Puerto Rico booking will be Dominic Vivona Jr., who was OABA chairman in 2012, and Marco Vivona. The New Jersey-based show was founded by five brothers, Morris, Johnny, Dominic Sr., Phil, and Sebastian, who was known as Babe. Only Dominic Sr. and Phil survive. Morris Jr. continues to run the New Jersey-based unit. Rob and Marco are Phil's sons, and if you want to follow that lineage any further, you're looking at the wrong guy.

    All I can tell you is they are good people and played a date for many years at RFK Stadium in Washington, D. C., where another buddy of mine, Jim Dalrymple, was manager. In fact, Christine and I, along with Dominic Sr. and his late first wife, Maddalena, were guests for dinner at the home of Dalrymple and his wife, Kathy. Phil, of course, is now married to Jane Baxter, the widow of Billy Baxter from the famed ride tandem of J. D. Floyd and Billy Baxter.

    Booking equipment with AOA in San Juan are Steve Lisko of Lisko Family Midway Attractions, Lowellville, Ohio, and Larry and Marion Cushing's Cushing Amusements of Wilmington, Massachusetts. Marion is the granddaughter of Lawrence Carr Sr., who once had a major show that traveled by railroad. “We'll have 25-30 rides set up there at the same location for the entire time,” said Rob. The show moves out of Jacksonville, Fla.

    New spots in 2019 included a mall in Staten Island, New York, the Jasper County Fair in Rensselaer, Indiana, and Loudon County Fair in Leesburg, Virginia. Rob said all the fall dates were good, but during the spring, Morris's unit was hurt in New Jersey by cold and wet weather. Highlights included the Bloomsburg, Pa. Fair, which had a very good year, and Al Dorso's Meadowlands, N. J. Fair

    Concerning Ladson, Rob said the opening date was Halloween, which is never good, and to add to that, it rained. “But after that we had great weather and finished with record numbers.”

    According to Gary Leonard, chairman of media and public relations for the Exchange Club, which sponsors the fair, attendance was 243,864, second best attendance on record since the fair was founded in 1957. The Vivonas have provided the carnival midway for every fair except the first.

    Entertainment at Ladson included Colt Ford, Lauren Alaina, Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives, Comedian Dick Hardwick, who has been managed forever by an old friend of mine, Steve Tolman, who, incidentally, has a beautiful singing voice; Ellie Holcomb, Motown Sound of Touch, Pablo Cruise, Runaway June, and Haley Mae Carmichael, on a cold and windy late afternoon.

    Other attractions included Special Head, All American Petting Zoo, Mark Yuziak, hypnotist, pro bull riding for three days, Bulls and Broncs, Rhinestone Roper, a fiddling competition, tractor driving competition, and first beer garden, with local, craft and domestic beers. It's the only fair where Butch Netterfield sets up his antique peanut roasting machine and gives away as many as he sells.

    Mark Harvey, in his 15th year as manager of the North Florida Fair, Tallahassee, said the 78th annual fair, held Nov. 7-17, was spectacular despite what he called cold and wet and nasty weather. Attendance of 105,000 was just slightly down from last year. Grosses for Strates Shows actually showed a slight increase. On hand from the carnival were Jimmy and John Strates, with Jay Strates, immediate past chairman of OABA, coming in along with his father, E. James Strates. Mr. Strates was OABA chairman in 1974 and James E. Strates, Jimmy, was OABA chairman in 2003. Asked if they were in the middle of a contract, Harvey laughed and said, “No, they play our fair because they like us. They do a great job.”

    Independent concessionaires included Cathy Ross of the National Independent Concessionaires Association, Gentry Miller, and Billy Lauther. Gate admission was $8 for adults and $5 for children. Parking was free. Entertainment included the Anastasini Circus, Robbie Pfunder Mountain Bike Trails, Sandastic Sand Sculpture, a chainsaw artist, and local acts.

    I received my annual report from Cliff Barton, chairman of the Greater Baton Rouge, La. Fair, who couldn't be happier that his LSU Tigers happen to be the No. 1 college football team in the nation.

    “We closed our 11-day run on Sunday, Nov. 3, and the key word to describe our fair this year was rain. Yes, we were hit and lost three nights because of weather. It started raining our opening night and we lost both Friday and Saturday because of it.”

    Barton said they did open Sunday, Oct. 27, but attendance was less than half of what they would normally have drawn.” And then to add insult to injury, a tropical storm pounded us on the night of Oct. 30 after we had closed. The wind was high, and the rain was coming sideways so we lost Halloween night. After that, the sun came out and we had a very good Friday and a great weekend, but our final numbers reflect a 17 per cent decrease in attendance.”

    As always, Barton said the good news is there were several positives. “The first is that our children's Lego Build competition was bigger than ever. The project has grown in the four years we have had it. We had the pleasure of having U. S. Senator Bill Cassidy, MD, present our scholarship winners with certificates. We had awarded 29 scholarships and most of the winners were present.”

    Barton said that Mitchell Brothers, the midway provider, had a good second weekend. “We are a Pay-One-Price fair and they sold a lot of wristbands. Another highlight was we were visited by three greats of the industry, Ralph Shoptaw, Herb Hicks, and Barney Cosner. All in all, it was a good fair and we can't complain too much. To date, we have donated more than $4.1 million in scholarships and grants to organizations involved with families, children, and quality of life.”

    Attractions included the Fearless Flores Thrill Show, Caricature Artist Chris Melton, Magician Tim Spinosa, Noah's Way Exotic Petting Zoo, Swifty Swine Racing Pigs, and Washboard Willy.

    Barton ended by wishing me well and saying, “If you get south to Louisiana, please come by and say hello. I'll even get JH to come eat with us somewhere. Geaux Tigers!” His reference was to his predecessor, the great J. H. Martin, who is still a staunch advocate and lifetime member of the Midwest Fairs Association.

    Lane Wetherington's Christmas Lane is scheduled on the grounds of the Paul Davis-managed Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, Nov. 29-Dec. 24. Arnold Amusements has eight rides and David and Dee Dee Starkey two rides set up in the livestock barns. They all missed the Sunday Welcome Home Party of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton, Fla., because of teardown at a date at St. Jude's Catholic Church in Gulfport, Fla. “I heard they had a huge crowd,” said David. Christine and I have attended many of those and always had a lot of fun.

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

    Happy Thanksgiving! Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Thu, November 14, 2019 5:08 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    From the desk of Vanessa Gagne:

    November 14th, 2019

    The city of Charlotte, NC
    is considering a traveling exotic animal ban.  There was a hearing on the 12th.  Several activists attended wearing circus abuse shirts and holding signs.  It is not too late to get your calls and comments in to support our side with facts, especially if you are a citizen of Charlotte.  Thank you for your time and attention to this matter!  Every city counts, as neighboring cities often follow suit with ordinances.

    Mayor’s Office:  704-336-2241
    Here are the email addresses for Mayor, Council, and the City Clerk:
    mayor@charlottenc.gov, julie.eiselt@charlottenc.gov, braxton.winston@charlottenc.gov, james.mitchell@charlottenc.gov, dimple.ajmera@charlottenc.gov, larken.egleston@charlottenc.gov, lmayfield@charlottenc.gov, gaphipps@charlottenc.gov, matt.newton@charlottenc.gov, tariq.bokhari@charlottenc.gov, edriggs@charlottenc.gov, sckelly@charlottenc.gov


    Wisconsin deer hunters targeted by animal rights extremists
    The Animal Liberation Front is listed as a terrorist organization with the FBI.

    Animal Wellness Announces Formation of a National Veterinary Council

    Wilson’s Wild Animal Park owner faces 46 animal cruelty charges 

  • Wed, November 13, 2019 9:48 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*  
    (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      10/28/19 11/04/19 11/11/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.064 3.062 3.073   values are up 0.011 values are down -0.244
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.056 3.041 3.050   values are up 0.009 values are down -0.264
    New England (PADD1A) 3.028 3.034 3.042   values are up 0.008 values are down -0.314
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.246 3.244 3.245   values are up 0.001 values are down -0.238
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.932 2.905 2.919   values are up 0.014 values are down -0.268
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.963 2.955 2.972   values are up 0.017 values are down -0.290
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.806 2.795 2.795   no change 0.000 values are down -0.290
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.082 3.166 3.203   values are up 0.037 values are down -0.175
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.724 3.746 3.758   values are up 0.012 values are down -0.049
    West Coast less California 3.379 3.413 3.435   values are up 0.022 values are down -0.079
    California 3.998 4.011 4.014   values are up 0.003 values are down -0.026

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