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


    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: 

    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
  • Thu, October 03, 2019 9:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    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. 
    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.

    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
  • 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.

    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)


    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


    Read Vanessa's information and all links here>>

  • Thu, September 26, 2019 5:32 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    From Cables and Booms to Nuts and Bolts, Inspectors Make Sure Tulsa State Fair Rides are Safe Before Opening
    By Stetson Payne | Tulsa World
    All Photos: Mike Simons | Tulsa World

    With the hours counting down before the 2019 Tulsa State Fair kicks off, state and local inspectors are heading into an intensive schedule of testing to make sure the fair’s rides and food are safe.

    State Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, and Oklahoma Dept. of Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn, watch as workers continue to set up rides for the Tulsa State Fair.At a news conference Wednesday morning, Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn spoke about the commission’s work that will continue through the fair’s 11 days. Oklahoma is one of 30 states that mandate inspections of amusement park rides, from the roller coasters at Frontier City down to the bumper cars at the fall carnival, and Osborn said the state fair is no exception.

    “Every minute that the midway’s open at the Tulsa fair, we’ll have at least one Department of Labor employee here just doing an extra set of eyes besides the vendor,” Osborn said. “It’s the 37th year that it’s been in state statute that we do inspect rides for public safety.”

    A worker sets up the Ferris Wheel at the Tulsa fairgrounds Amusement rides are inspected first during construction before being certified with a Labor Commission stamp ahead of Thursday’s opening. The inspections are done in part with the vendor, North American Midway, which has returned to the Tulsa State Fair for its fourth year. The team of eight inspectors looks over rides from cables and booms down to the nuts and bolts to make sure they’re built to engineers’ standards, Osborn said.

    Every day before the midway opens, inspectors will check the rides and operators again to make sure no problems, including creaks, squeaks and groans, have arisen. By the time the fair wraps up Oct. 6, the approximately 65 rides will have been inspected more than 700 times combined. Although inspectors work to keep rides safe, Osborn said it’s up to riders to follow the rules.

    “Don’t try to stretch putting your kid in a ride that they’re not tall enough for,” Osborn said. “I’ll see parents come up and say, ‘Stand on your tiptoes.’ Not really sure, as an overprotective parent when my kids are little, why you would do that, because they’re specified for your safety. … And obviously also do what the ride says. Don’t wave your arms around. Don’t do anything you’re not supposed to do.”

    Oklahoma Dept. of Labor ride inspector Michelle Fields, climbs inside a ride called the Tornado as she inspect it.As inspectors check the nuts and bolts, Tulsa Health Department inspectors are at the fairgrounds to make sure fair food is safe no matter how crazy or deep fried it might be.

    For Ashley Davis, a mobile food inspector and the special events coordinator at the Tulsa Health Department, the state fair is about as big as it gets for her job. For every food vendor at the fair, there’s a stringent inspection process that begins often before the tents and trailers set up on the midway or in the buildings.

    “Our side starts about a month in advance when I get the vendors’ list from Expo Square when they start booking them,” Davis said. “I start reaching out to the vendors making sure they know the safety and sanitization standards before they even get on site. Then the Monday before the fair comes around, I come out here and check all the water connections, water sources, make sure everything is good to go before we start licensing our vendors.”

    Between Tuesday and when the fair opens Thursday, Davis said the Health Department will have conducted inspections of all 240 vendors, and each will be inspected another three times before the fair ends. Davis said the intensive inspection schedule is in part because vendors are only in town for a short period of time and because so many things can affect food safety.

    Although inspections aren’t that different from those conducted at brick and mortar restaurants across Tulsa, Davis said the fair presents unique challenges. Potential rainwater has to be accounted for, keeping it away from equipment and the food. Losing power at the midway can cause problems with refrigeration.

    There’s also the frustrating problem of public enemy No. 1 at the fair: the flies. Davis said the fly all but becomes the state bird at the fair, and she said vendors often remark how strict rules are concerning screening and airflow. Through all that, many of the vendors are from states with different standards, and it’s Davis’ job to make sure they’re cooking by Oklahoma’s rules for the fair.

    Above all, Davis said she hopes the work keeps the fair food as good as it can be for Tulsa.

    “We work better if we act as a team and work with the vendors,” Davis said. “Our goal isn’t to shut somebody down, it is to educate and keep everybody healthy in the sense of safe food, not necessarily the fried food and the food choices out here.”

  • Wed, September 25, 2019 2:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    On September 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the final Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations. It is expected to be in the Federal Register on Friday, September 27, 2019.

    The final rule includes nearly all of the recommendations that IAAPA and its coalition partner, the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (PPWO) offered during the comment period. PPWO is a coalition that consists of a diverse group of associations, businesses and other stakeholders representing employers with millions of employees across the country.

    Key provisions of the final rule include:

    Salary Threshold – Raises the threshold from $23,600 to $35,568/year ($684/week) by reverting to the methodology used in the 2004 rule that focused on the 20th percentile of full-time wage earners in the lowest income region of the company (identified as the South) as well as the retail industry.

    Future Salary Updates – Does not implement automatic updates.

    Duties Test – Makes no changes to the duties tests.

    Highly Compensated Employees – Sets the new threshold at $107,432.

    Salary Test – Would allow nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary test requirement, with a single pay period to make any “catch up” payments.

    Effective Date – January 1, 2020.

    To read the DOL’s announcement, click here.
    To read the final ruling, click here.

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