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  • Thu, May 16, 2019 8:45 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Consistency is the key to the success of the James H. Drew Exposition of Augusta, Ga., owned by Jimmy Drew, his wife, Evangeline, and their son, Jim, according to the convivial Jimmy, who is a Trustee of OABA and former president of the Showmen's League of America in the same year, 1984.

    Tradition and nostalgia are other words associated with the carnival that has maintained basically the same route for the last 50 years. “I don't get involved in the rat race of who can take the biggest fair away from who,” said Jimmy, who, technically is James H. Drew III.

    James Graybeal, manager, has been with the show for 48 years. The Rick Sergent Family, that books games, has been with Drew for 68 years. “We have developed a following of people who keep coming back and I firmly believe that American workers are some of the best in the world. As far as the H-2B foreign Visa program, I believe it's just another drug. You become addicted to it and then you have to have it.”

    Since it was founded in 1948 by Drew's dad, James H. Drew Jr., who was known as Georgia Boy, and his mother, Eula, who started with a Ferris Wheel and Merry-Go-Round, the carnival has always featured an antique organ, and has booked attractions such as a motor drone, and artists who are shot out of the cannon, along with most of the modern and spectacular rides.

    In that latter class is a Wheel that was purchased from the manufacturing firm of Lamberink in the Netherlands. “It's not as tall as the one owned by Michael Wood and Frank Zaitshik.” That one is over 150 feet tall. “This one is about 80, so it's up there,” said Drew. The ride is expected to arrive later this season. Also new for this year is a Barnyard kiddie ride that was bought from Zamperla. “It's only the second one in the U.S. Wade Shows (owned by Frank Zaitshik) has the other,” stated Drew.

    The show is now set up at a still date in Simpsonville, S.C., after playing the Greensboro, N.C., Coliseum for two weeks. Asked how that spot went, Drew said, “We've played there for years, and as is true with most locations, we do well when we get good weather, but we had rain on both Saturdays.”

    Drew said he plans to bring out his Space Wheel two or three times this year, including at the 15th annual Williamson County Fair in Franklin, on the outskirts of Nashville, Aug. 2-10. Drew has played the fair since its beginning. he ride was manufactured by the Velare Brothers in 1958, and Douglas Aircraft made all of its rotating parts. “It has been completely refurbished and looks tremendous.”

    Drew said his grandfather, James H. Drew, worked for $23 a week, while raising nine children. Georgia Boy hopped on a train in 1931 and joined Cole Brothers in a town called Wrems, Ga. “I have always been told that he told his sister that if he didn't get on that train, he'd never get out of Wrems.”

    Jimmy, who loves the music of Steven Foster who penned “Way Down Upon The Suwanee River,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” and numerous other classics, made me his Man of the Year at the Miami Showmen's Association when he was president of that club. He and Evangeline had Christine and me as their guests at the 1995 Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, an experience neither of us will ever forget. Neither will my son, Kevin, who was working as a mechanical engineer in Savannah, Ga., at the time for Gulfstream Industries. I called him from Augusta, gave him a million reasons of why he shouldn't try to join us in Augusta, including too much walking, and not being able to get a ticket, until something of a miracle happened.

    At dinner that night, Drew said his son, Jim, had gone to Atlanta, and he wondered if we knew anybody who would like a ticket. Kevin, it seemed, arrived, driving the distance of 121.3 miles, almost before I had dropped the phone. Bernard Thomas of Mighty Thomas Shows, OABA chairman in 1975, was also a Drew guest that year.

    I have so many memories of the trip. One was being amazed at how cheap the costs were for food, drink, and parking. It was the first Masters for Tiger Woods, who hit a ball that landed at my feet. He smiled and asked if I would like to take the next shot for him. John Daly took one of his booming shots that flew dangerously over our heads. We walked to Amen Corner, even though the distance just about did me in, and we really had a memorable experience when play was delayed by fog one morning. We asked the lady next to us if she followed a particular golfer around the course or waited at certain holes for the golfers to approach. When she said she did the former, we were curious as to why and whom. She replied it's Lee Janzen and I'm his mother.” How about that! I have rooted for him ever since.

    I was watching a baseball game on TV (what's new?) Saturday when I received a phone call from Tom Gaylin of Rosedale Attractions and Shows, Baltimore, who was inquiring about my health. I told him my oncologist and surgeon had told me I was clear of cancer, but both recommended I take treatments because it had a high risk of coming back. I could get hit with a car today as well, so I turned it down, especially after talking to my regular doctor and learning of the high risks. Not only that, but the cost of each treatment was to be $6,700, and it wasn't covered by my insurance. My dermatologist also wanted me to take full body scans every three months, but to use a carnival term, I wasn't getting on that Roller Coaster again, where they take a  biopsy to see if you have a malignancy, and if you do, move you on to one doctor, then another, and it never seems to stop. Well, there is another possible ending. Yikes!

    Then Tom and I got down to business. We discussed how much alike farmers and carnival people are with the long hours, hard work, dependency on the weather, etc. He told me Rosedale, which has been around since 1928, was started by his grandmother, Ann Gaylin, who was the daughter of John and Mary Padlick, who had worked at Seabreeze Park in Rochester, N. Y., and Owasco Park in Auburn, N. Y. “She started the traveling show on the streets of Baltimore, booking independently at first, with Heyday, Caterpillar and Smith and Smith Chair Plain.”

    Gaylin, who was Chair of OABA in 2016, is optimistic about this being a good season. His show has been out for seven weeks and the first four were good, with bad weather hurting the next two. “People seem to be spending and the economy is good. People are looking for good, local entertainment, and I believe we will reap the rewards of that.” Last year was not one of the show's best, to say the least, as it was hit by more than 100 inches of rain in six and a half months.

    Currently, the carnival is set up at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, Md. “It's a rental for five days with the Montgomery County Police Department. They are doing a Safety Patrol Picnic for crossing guards and their families, and drawing more than 2,000 people a day.” Next on the route is a 10-day spot for the Gamber, MD, Fire Department.

    A wrestling aficionado, Gaylin was a champion matster in high school and at Towson State College in Baltimore County. He was also on the U. S. Army team and was a National Collegiate Athletic Association referee from 1978 to 2006. From 2006 through 2015, Gaylin served as coordinator of NCAA Division II and III officials, before calling that part of his life quits. I wouldn't want to tangle with him, but when we started joking about that, I told him about my old friend, Gene McQuater, who owned McQuater's Greater Shows and the Midway That Sparkles. Gene lamented that the last time he hit somebody who displeased him on his carnival and he didn't fall, he knew it was time to get out!

    Have all great days, and God Bless!   

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

  • Thu, May 16, 2019 8:30 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices* 
    (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      04/29/19 05/06/19 05/13/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.169 3.171 3.160   values are down -0.011 values are down -0.079
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.194 3.190 3.176   values are down -0.014 values are down -0.060
    New England (PADD1A) 3.236 3.245 3.238   values are down -0.007 values are down -0.013
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.385 3.379 3.365   values are down -0.014 values are down -0.015
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 3.057 3.051 3.035   values are down -0.016 values are down -0.097
    Midwest (PADD2) 3.058 3.064 3.046   values are down -0.018 values are down -0.129
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.939 2.927 2.905   values are down -0.022 values are down -0.107
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.183 3.186 3.181   values are down -0.005 values are down -0.135
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.730 3.765 3.790   values are up 0.025 values are up 0.059
    West Coast less California 3.346 3.345 3.355   values are up 0.010 values are down -0.127
    California 4.035 4.097 4.136   values are up 0.039 values are up 0.207
    *prices include all taxes
  • Thu, May 09, 2019 3:32 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Christine and I were anxious to get a bet down on the 145th annual Kentucky Derby in Louisville, and my friends in Largo, Florida, Alan and Lori McIlvaine, whom I bet on football games with, were even more excited about the prospects, since they wanted to wager $50 across the board.

                Our thoughts were a bit more modest as we were going to bet $20 each across the board, in other words, to win, place, and show, but then I thought to myself that seven or eight years ago, Alan wouldn't have known there was a Derby taking place. So he shamed us into upping our ante to $50.

    As far as football, Alan's knowledge of the game didn't reach past the University of Florida in Gainesville when we were hanging out at the Oasis Lounge in Waldo, Fla. No matter how big the crowd was when Christine and I arrived, I had a seat because Alan gave me his, and that's why I gave him the nickname of Standing Man.

                Once I introduced him to betting, he immediately got the bug. Now we find ourselves wagering on 30 or more football games on fall Saturdays, and all of the professional contests on Sunday. One of my late sports auditors, Beverly Larson, who owned the Flamingo Lounge in Nashville, wondered when Alan made his first bets, whether I had informed him that he didn't have to put down money for every game—something that he did, earning the monicker of there's the guy who bet on every game.

    The computer system we use for football wasn't working, only offering the chance to bet one horse against another. Two sports auditors we had dealt with before, one in Nashville, couldn’t be reached, and the other in Mississippi, offered no solution. We tried another guy in Nashville, referred by Ronnie Hobbs, owner of the Scoreboard Lounge. He said he didn't do horse races. Also, we couldn’t find anybody who was going to the track, or even the one for off-track betting just across the Kentucky line.

    Suddenly, a light went off and I thought about Charley Cox of Concessions by Cox. For the last 12 years, he has worked The Derby in conjunction with Levy Restaurants, a Chicago-based hospitality company. Cox does the entire infield, plus several stands. He also does the Kentucky Derby Festival, including Thunder Over Louisville, where Zambelli Fireworks puts on a dazzling display.

                Cox said business was good despite it being a dreary Derby Day, with lots of rain and mud. “Despite that, we were still up over last year,” he said, after I asked where I could send the money I owed him.

                Yes, I had called his permanent office at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, and was given another number to reach him, which he didn't answer. Then I looked him up in the OABA Midway Marquee Directory and Resource Guide. There I found his number from his second permanent location, the Ohio Exposition Center on the grounds of the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. Lo and behold, he answered the phone and when I asked if he could place our bets, he said he sure could, and he did.

                Cox and Alan were unlucky enough to bet on the horse who actually won the race, Maximum Security, only to find out some 20 minutes later that he was disqualified, and the winner was a 65 to one shot, Country House. For us, and just about everybody everywhere, I believe, it left a sour taste and definitely rubbed off any sheen that might have been placed on the upcoming Preakness race. My horse, Tacitus, was moved from fourth to third, so I got back $140 for my $150 investment.

                I asked Cox about people from the carnival business who had worked the ancillary Derby events with him. He listed Lou Pacifico of the Meatball Factory and his son-in-law, Ryan Collmer, Brent Kennedy, who has Fire In the Hole Pizza, Frank King's Foods, and Jay and Vicki Clements of Triple Treat Shows.

                Cox stated, “This was the first time we sold tickets.” He predicted that in two or three years there would be no cash on midways. “Right now, at what used to be Tropicana Field, where the Tampa Bay Rays play baseball, there are no cash transactions.” I asked a dumb question concerning whether Cox liked the latest trend, and after pausing a while, he answered, “It keeps our employees honest.”

    I recalled the first time I met Cox, or was it vice versa. I was walking on the grounds of the Florida State Fair, Tampa, having already visited food concessionaires John McCarthy, Butch Netterfield, and John (The Peddler) Curtis, when I heard a booming voice call out my name on a loud speaker. I stopped, spent a long time talking to him, and that was our introduction to each other. Since that opportune occasion, he has allowed me to park in one of his spaces at Super Bowls and been a great news source. I have visited his operation at many fairs, including Perry, Columbus, Tampa, Ladson, S. C., and numerous others. He is also involved in setting up where natural disasters strike.

                This weekend, Cox takes his massive operation to automobile races in Indianapolis, gearing up for another appearance at the Indianapolis 500, which will be held May 26. At 82, he said he thought he'd be retired by now, with his children taking care of him, but we agreed, neither of us is ready for that.

                Speaking of the Indianapolis 500, I received a call from Suzette Hooper yesterday, who said she and her mom, the effervescent Marilyn Portemont, and several friends will be passing through Nashville on their way to the race. They want to stop and see Johnny Hobbs and me. Marilyn, of course, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from OABA during the Gibtown trade show last year. Approaching the age of 94, she will be attending the race for the 72nd straight year. It reminds me of the classic Alan Alda movie of Same Time Next Year, because Hobbs and I get the identical phone call every May.

                The Indy connection goes way back for me. I covered the race and time trials from 1958-1972 when I was a sports writer for The Nashville Tennessean. A Nashville-based contractor named Eph Hoover owned cars driven by Don Branson and Bobby Marshman. I had a plane at my disposal and Hoover's chief mechanic, Johnny Wills, one of my neighbors, for the entire month.

                I was able to interview all 33 drivers, chief mechanics, Flagman Pat Vidan, Track Owner Tony Hulman, PR man Al Bloemker, and anybody who moved since I was doing a radio show with Sprite as a sponsor. They paid me the whopping sum of $10 for every interview. After I left the newspaper to become editor of Amusement Business, I kept asking for credentials each year for myself, photographer, and our wives, which I received until Bloemker passed away, and it ended.

                During those years, I was able to obtain silver badges, which enabled users all access, and tickets for a host of Johnny and Marilyn Portemont's guests. They included Monsignor Robert J. McCarthy, Jo Ann, Larry and Tom Davis, Rod and Rita Link, J. D. and Ann Floyd, Rolly Larson, Harold and Marge Chance, Gary Otterbacher, Jack Libbertt, and the Coca-Cola man, Joe Oblander. Father Mac used to tell me that all the race drivers were happy to talk to a priest before driving in a very dangerous race.

                Marilyn has a group that wears tee shirts saying they are members of her pit crew. The native of Brazil, Indiana, used to make banana pudding for Hobbs when Johnny's United Shows, or All American Shows played the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, Tennessee. He's 91 now, I'll be 86, and we're both slowing down, but Marilyn doesn't appear to be losing any of her marvelous energy as she approaches 94. If she keeps going at this pace, OABA may decide to present her with another award—for longevity.

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7247.

    Have all great days, and God Bless! 

  • Thu, May 09, 2019 3:02 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    This week we welcome Vanessa Gagne as the
    newest contributor to our OABA circle. 

    Greetings, everyone.  I am excited to share my first update with you all today.  Click here for complete Legislative Update & Pending Legislation

    At the beginning of April, The Bear Protection Act of 2019 (US HR 2264) was introduced.  While it does not directly affect us, I am keeping an eye on it since it has to do with the bear bile trade and thus the trafficking of bear parts.  In any case, it is good to see the US taking a stance on the awful practice of bile farms.  I will keep it on my own working copy of the legislation list and if anything pertinent ever comes up I will add it to our shared list.  

    Yesterday, a meeting was held outside of Tallahassee concerning the Florida Fish and Wildlife and their rules about elephant rides. 

    I am happy to report that the only changes will be administrative; FFW will keep the rules as is but make it easier for applicants to find out guidelines and rules for the issuance of permits.  

    This meeting stemmed from the beginning of April when FFW asked the public for their opinions/statements about elephant rides within the state of Florida.  Many ARs showed up to the different meetings to show their disdain for the practice.  Conversely, our side sent dozens of supporters and speakers, many with years of hands on elephant experience, to keep the facts straight.  In fact, at the meeting yesterday, there were 15 participants: 2 against and 13 for keeping the rules as written.  HSUS and GFAS were the two opponents.  Among the 13 supporters were FAZA, ZAA, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Disney, and Two Tails Ranch.  The original rules about elephant rides were instituted many years ago after an accident at Zoo Miami and there hasn't been another incident in the entire state in 25+ years.  It is also important to note that there are only SEVEN ride elephants registered and permitted to operate in the entire state of Florida.  It is plain to see the deliberately targeted position of the ARs in this situation.  

    I'd like to thank Ms. Zerbini of Two Tails Ranch for her first hand account of the meeting yesterday.  Because of this we can be ready for when the decision comes to amend the rules as we will all be well informed of the agenda.  

    Cooperation will be how we stay strong and prevail in the end.

  • Thu, May 09, 2019 2:59 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*  
    (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      04/22/19 04/29/19 05/06/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.147 3.169 3.171   values are up 0.002 no change 0.000
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.174 3.194 3.190   values are down -0.004 values are up 0.012
    New England (PADD1A) 3.217 3.236 3.245   values are up 0.009 values are up 0.030
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.370 3.385 3.379   values are down -0.006 values are up 0.043
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 3.033 3.057 3.051   values are down -0.006 values are down -0.010
    Midwest (PADD2) 3.042 3.058 3.064   values are up 0.006 values are down -0.028
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.917 2.939 2.927   values are down -0.012 values are down -0.028
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.143 3.183 3.186   values are up 0.003 values are down -0.063
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.696 3.730 3.765   values are up 0.035 values are up 0.103
    West Coast less California 3.309 3.346 3.345   values are down -0.001 values are down -0.064
    California 4.003 4.035 4.097   values are up 0.062 values are up 0.234
    *prices include all taxes
  • Wed, May 08, 2019 10:45 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    New SEA Logo

    May 8, 2019

    Dear SEA members,

    The rule outlining the filing instructions for the additional 30,000 visas has been published in the Federal Register. 

    A few items of note:

    You must sign an attestation form attesting to the following items:

    Your business will suffer irreparable harm if you do not receive your H-2B workers;

    The workers you petition for have held H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years (2016, 2017 or 2018).

    On page seven of the rule it says that "petitions submitted pursuant to the FY 2019 Omnibus will be processed in the order in which they were received." This leads one to believe that applications will be processed in the order which they are received but keep in mind this exactly the same language as the 2018 rule.

    Petitions submitted pursuant to the FY 2018 Omnibus will be processed in the order in which they were received.

    In 2018 USCIS held all applications for five days in order to determine if a lottery was necessary. I would encourage you to get your applications submitted in as timely a fashion as possible but keep in mind that there is a decent chance USCIS may hold a lottery if the demand exceeds the supply.

    Based off of feedback from our member agents, we estimate that the demand for the visas will be in the 30,000 range, give or take a few thousand. The returning worker provision lessens the demand due to the lack of eligible returning workers.

    I will be in touch soon with our comprehensive strategy regarding obtaining a permanent fix this year.

    Gray Delaney

  • Thu, May 02, 2019 5:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    When Dennis Fraleigh and Richie Wright started off on their own in the carnival business, they decided that having something different was the way to go. “It was the 1980s and there was a health-conscious craze taking place across the country, so we decided to offer salads on our menu, recalled Fraleigh. The two had been working for Marty Valentino, whose son, Vinnie, is still in the business, before deciding to buy him out. Their first trailer was purchased from Rene Piche, a well-known food concessionaire from Ware, Massachusetts, who was traveling with 12 to 14 of his own trailers at the time. The trailer had been built by the late Bill Lordy.

                “It cost us $12,000, and we already had a solid route.” It included such locations as the New York State Fair, Syracuse, Erie County Fair, Hamburg, N. Y., the Columbia County Fair, Chatham, N. Y., Orange County Fair, Middletown, N. Y., and Dutchess County Fair, Rhinebeck, N. Y., which the late Pat Reithoffer once told me was the biggest five-day fair in the country. I visited when Tom Odak was manager and it lived up to its billing. I'll never forget Odak, whose wife was from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., near my home town of Scranton, that each year he purchased a full-page advertisement in the New York Times to publicize the fair. Asked if that wasn't costly, the wily Odak winked and said he had a contact at the paper in the Sales department who made sure he got a good rate.

                At some point, Fraleigh bought out Wright, who wound up marrying Cindy LaGrou, whose father, Dick, had been the longtime AB agent for Deggeller Attractions when it was known as Deggeller's Spectacular Magic Midways, and owned by the late Irv and Evelyn and Alan and Toby Deggeller. Evelyn still has equipment on the road and is partnered in Stuart Concessions with Todd Desgranges and Joe Blume. They travel with R. C. Cole Shows of Covington, Virginia.

                Andy Deggeller, an OABA director, now runs the carnival while his parents, Don and Cathy, are still very much involved. Don was president of OABA in 2004. According to Fraleigh, Richie and Cindy now reside in Sarasota, Fla., and travel independently with several food stands selling fried dough, funnel cakes, and sugar shaker shakeups at fairs that include The Big E and Columbia, South Carolina.

                “We started off with a truck and trailer for $12,000. It was very easy for us to get into the business, and we never looked behind. It took us a year to get into The Big E. Because of some changes, Art Pokorny who was then in charge of concessions, needed a salad and London Broil, so he booked us.” Pokorny and his wife, Barbara, now specialize in selling pizza with their B. Wilson Enterprises stands.

                Fraleigh was happy to hear that his stand was the seventh highest grosser at the Miami-Dade County Fair for selling kabobs. The specialty for Dennis and his wife, Susan, is London Broil sandwiches. “We seem to be the last people standing with that because it requires so much work,” said Fraleigh. While playing Miami since the first time it went to 18 days, which he believes was 1982, this was his first time to try selling kabobs. “With London Broil, it's like fishing. You need a lot of bait,” he said.

                Speaking of the fair, which had a huge spike in attendance this year, Fraleigh admitted, “It was better than it has been in recent years.” But it wasn't like when Fuchs (E. Darwin Fuchs, president and CEO emeritus) and Bob Negus (Conklin Shows) were running it. You had carnival guys in charge then, and then the next two guys (Phil Clark and Bob Hohenstein) operated it more like a park. The new guy (Eddie Cora) is listening, and he made several notable changes for the good. The parking charge was eliminated. They got rid of Magic Money, and the fair shows signs of getting back to what it once was. But even with great promotions and excellent weather, Miami is a tough market.”

                Laughing about his kabobs stand finishing in the top 10, Fraleigh said his Fluffy Doughnut stand, named for his wife's nickname, “probably finished in the bottom 10.” He's in partnership with Laura Westphal on that and it did well at last year's Big E (Eastern States Exposition), West Springfield, Mass. “but we're still working out the kinks. It's a beautiful stand with a Century Products trailer.”
                So far this year, besides Miami-Dade, Fraleigh has worked the Rick Vymlatil-managed South Florida Fair, West Palm Beach, where he said the weather was bad but his business was good, and the Paul Davis-managed Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, “which was REALLY good. I think the entertainment was better than usual, and that made a big difference.”

                Fraleigh added, “There are just so many concessionaires at these Florida spots. When business is good in the Sunshine State, it means the economy is good, and it's a good sign for the rest of the year.” His next booking is a car sale at the fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, N. Y. His first fair is the 178th annual Saratoga County Fair, Ballston Spa, N. Y., July 23-28. “Next is Sussex County (the New Jersey State Fair, Sussex County Farm & Home Show, Aug. 2-11).” He then added, facetiously, “I don't have the honor of playing The Meadowlands (State Fair Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N. J., June 20-July 7),” a not so subtle dig at the high number of concessionaires who book there.

                Dates following that include the Wisconsin State Fair, West Allis; Erie County, Hamburg, N. Y.; Dutchess County, Rhinebeck, N. Y.; Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul; New York State Fair, Syracuse; The Big E, West Springfield, Mass; Georgia National Fair, Perry; and North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh. He reminisced about some spots that have gone by the wayside because the property they were on was too valuable, such as the Yonkers Raceway Fair in New York, that was operated by Big Bill Harding for the Rooney family that owns the National Football League's New York Giants. Another was a fair at a race track in Bensalem, Pa., where Reithoffer Shows played. “I always heard about those and wished I could have played some of them.” I told him that Harding often called me in the middle of the fair and put me on the phone with a bunch of carnival people while they were all sitting around and cutting up Jackpots. I miss seeing Harding at the Gibtown trade show.

                Fraleigh stated that obtaining good workers is always an issue. “But we have a small pool we always draw from. We don't use foreign labor. We rely on locals and find a way to manage.”

                When they were the Salad Boys, their trailer stood out at the biggest spots, but it didn't take too long to go from specializing in Greek and chef salads to more carnivorous items, thus the current name of the operation, Butcher Boys. “When people come to a fair, they usually don't look to healthy items.”

    While noting that fuel prices continue to rise, Fraleigh hopes to keep from raising any of his prices. He relies on Fare Foods and Cisco for most of his products, while using commissaries at fairs where it is required. He charges $10 for a London Broil sandwich. As for gas, “it is what it is.”

                The Fraleighs now reside in Hobe Sound, Florida, and his shop is in Rhinebeck, N. Y. Asked about hobbies, Fraleigh said he plays some golf, but lists cars, collecting watches and playing drums in a local band among his favorite things to do. The band plays around Hobe Sound, Jupiter and Stuart, Fla, and features ride inspector Jim Caskey, who used to be with Conklin Shows, playing bass.

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

  • Thu, May 02, 2019 5:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    WEST ALLIS, Wis. – April 30, 2019 – Wisconsin State Fair Park CEO Kathleen O’Leary is excited to announce the promotion of several employees as part of a re-organization that creates more clearly defined divisions within the organization, each overseen by a Chief Officer. The divisions include Finance, Marketing, Operations, Police & Public Safety and State Fair Programming.

    “I am humbled by the incredible talent of the Wisconsin State Fair Park staff,” said Kathleen O’Leary, Wisconsin State Fair Park CEO. “When I became CEO, it was my vision to create a newly organized structure that streamlined management while offering advancement opportunities and empowerment to the entire staff.”

    Shari Black has been named Chief Programs Officer, overseeing the State Fair Programming Division. Black was hired at State Fair Park in 2016 as the Senior Director of Event Services, focusing on non-fair events as well as SpinCity, the State Fair’s Amusement Ride and Game area. In her new position she will serve a key role in the strategic planning and success of the annual Wisconsin State Fair, including management of Attractions & Rides, Agriculture, Competitive Exhibits, Entertainment, Guest Relations, and Vendor Services. Black served on the board of the Wisconsin Association of Fairs for six years, and as president in 2016. She currently serves on the International Association of Fairs (IAFE) Foundation Board of Trustees and the West Allis Business Improvement District Board. Prior to joining the team at State Fair Park, she was the director of the Waukesha County Fair for 15 years and has a degree in Communication and Business Administration from Carroll University.

    Chris Kowieski has been named Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the Operations Division. Kowieski joined the State Fair Park staff 24 years ago as a facilities laborer, working his way up to a Facilities Shift Supervisor before his career took a different path. He is proud to have worked for 10 years as a high school Social Studies teacher and served as a United States Army Reservist for eight years. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Five years ago, he returned to State Fair Park as the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, moving up to Director of Facility Services. In this new role Kowieski will oversee Facilities, Event Services, Transportation, Gates and Parking. He has a B.A. in Secondary Education from UW-Eau Claire and M.S. in Business Administration from UW-Milwaukee.

    Jen Puente has been named Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing the Marketing Division. Puente has worked at State Fair Park for nearly 15 years in various sponsorship and marketing roles, most recently serving as Director of Marketing & Partnerships since 2016. She has grown sponsorship revenues significantly year-over-year and has managed an impressive 85 percent sponsor retention rate average each year. She was instrumental in securing the fair’s first ever presenting sponsor, U.S. Cellular, in 2006. Puente is a former chair of the IAFE YPI (Young Peoples Initiative) committee, teaches sponsorship training courses for the IAFE and currently serves on the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. In her new position, Puente will oversee Advertising, Sponsorship, Marketing Communications, Creative Services and Group Sales. She has a B.A. in Business Administration with a Marketing emphasis from UW-Eau Claire.

    Jaime Kwiatkowski has been named Director of Entertainment, Events & Guest Relations, serving within the State Fair Programming Division. She will book entertainment for the Main Stage presented by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and several other stages and events during State Fair, as well as oversee the Guest Relations Department. Kwiatkowski first began working at State Fair Park in 1999 in the special events department and was promoted to Entertainment Director in 2002, a position she held through 2006. She returned to State Fair Park in 2012 to manage the newly created Group Sales Department and Guest Relations, increasing group ticket sales 170 percent since the first year of the program. Kwiatkowski has degrees in both Mass Communication and Communication from UW-Milwaukee.

    State Fair Park’s Finance Division will continue to be led by current Chief Financial Officer Timothy Miles. Miles has been with State Fair Park for two years. Prior to this position he worked in Public Accounting, auditing state and local governments, as well as non-profit organizations. He then worked in Higher Education before being hired as WSFP Controller and being promoted to CFO.

    The Police & Public Safety Division will continue to be led by Chief James Bruno. Bruno has served as the Chief of Police for State Fair Park since 2013. He has been a member of the State Fair Park Police Department for 18 years and formerly served in the City of Greenfield Police Department, beginning in 1979.

    Kathleen O’Leary and Steve Reinhardt will oversee all State Fair Park divisions. O’Leary has officially served as CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park since October 2016. She has worked for Wisconsin State Fair Park for 22 years in various positions, including Interim CEO, Chief Operations Officer and Director of Marketing, Communications, and Sponsorship.

    Steve Reinhardt will continue to serve as Deputy Executive Director, a role he has held for two years. Reinhardt has 18 years of experience at State Fair Park having formerly served as Chief Services Officer, as well as Director of Vendor Services.

    Wisconsin State Fair Park is a year-round entertainment venue hosting hundreds of events and meetings annually throughout the four seasons, including the annual Wisconsin State Fair, presented by U.S. Cellular. It is home to the Exposition Center, Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center, Milwaukee Mile Speedway, Wisconsin Products Pavilion and many other facilities.

    Welcoming an average of one million guests each year, the Wisconsin State Fair offers a unique experience to all who attend. Featuring Wisconsin’s largest agriculture showcase, 30 FREE entertainment stages, exciting rides and games in SpinCity, countless family-friendly activities and food galore, the fair is a tradition that can’t be missed. The 2019 fair will take place Thursday, Aug. 1 – Sunday, Aug. 11, For the most up-to-date information, visit WiStateFair.com  or join the conversation on Facebook Twitter ,Instagram Pinterest YouTube  and Snapchat .

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  • Thu, May 02, 2019 5:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*  
    (dollars per gallon)full history
              Change from
      04/15/19 04/22/19 04/29/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.118 3.147 3.169   values are up 0.022 values are up 0.012
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.153 3.174 3.194   values are up 0.020 values are up 0.032
    New England (PADD1A) 3.205 3.217 3.236   values are up 0.019 values are up 0.033
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.342 3.370 3.385   values are up 0.015 values are up 0.064
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 3.015 3.033 3.057   values are up 0.024 values are up 0.015
    Midwest (PADD2) 3.010 3.042 3.058   values are up 0.016 values are down -0.025
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.899 2.917 2.939   values are up 0.022 values are down -0.007
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.082 3.143 3.183   values are up 0.040 values are down -0.032
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.651 3.696 3.730   values are up 0.034 values are up 0.090
    West Coast less California 3.252 3.309 3.346   values are up 0.037 values are down -0.048
    California 3.967 4.003 4.035   values are up 0.032 values are up 0.201
    *prices include all taxes


  • Thu, April 25, 2019 11:54 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    I was hoping to reach Joey Fowler, who had two games in the top 10 at the March 14-April 7 Miami-Dade County Fair, but when Patty Dee, concession manager, gave me his phone number it made me wonder what he was doing in Philadelphia, since the first three digits were 215, which cover that area.
    After a no answer and generic voice mail, I decided to try my go to guy, David Starkey, of Arnold Amusements, who always seems to have an answer for everything. Starkey had to hang up his phone, search for the number, and call me back. It was the same one I already had, so I tried again.
    When Fowler answered this time, I wondered what he was doing in the land of one of my favorite baseball teams, the Philadelphia Phillies. His silent response was one of what are you talking about. He then said, “I'm in China.” China, what the hell are you doing there? I asked, and he said, “I came over with Abe Hammer of Best Toys, Brooklyn, New York, to pick up stock. We're buying containers of goods to bring back to the U. S. I've been over here four or five times before, but since I buy from Abe, I wanted to learn more about the process, and he's helping me with that. It's a different world.”
    Fowler's mom, Lavon, was once married to my wife, Christine's former brother-in-law, John McCarthy, who had Dar-Jon food concessions, and traveled with such carnivals as World of Mirth, Rod Link, Milt Kaufman's Gooding's Million Dollar Midways, the James H. Drew Exposition, and others.
    Fowler's late grandparents, Joe and Thelma Spalding, were highly respected concessionaires from Gantt, Alabama, which had a population of 222 in 2010.  Joey spent several seasons handling the merchandise on the Ozzy Osborne tours. “They don't have any of those daytime festivals anymore, so I haven't done that in a while,” he said, adding, “that was quite an experience, actually, a good one.”
    Fowler's balloon dart game was the fifth highest grosser at Miami-Dade, and his double decker vertical water game came in ninth place. Both were purchased from Denny's Electronics of Nokomis, Florida. Denny Bartosik won the OABA's Pioneer Award in 2017, and while I'm thinking about it, Marilyn Portemont of Johnny's United Shows, Andalusia, Alabama, which is 8.6 miles from Gantt, received a Distinguished Service Award. Marilyn's late husband, Johnny, was inducted into the OABA Hall of Fame in 2003, Andalusia's 2017 population was 8,787, and get this, Gantt's was 215, yes, that's correct. I know Gantt had several bars because every time Bill Lordy, Terry (The Viking) Erickson, and I called McCarthy, he was in one. Fowler, who grew up in Gantt, now resides in Venice, Florida.
    So far this season, Fowler has set up his games at the Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, Florida State Fair, Tampa, and Miami-Dade. His next spot will be the Empire State Fair at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N. Y., (Long Island), May 3-19. The fair is owned and operated by Al Dorso; Strates Shows has the midway. Fowler books independently, with North American Midway Entertainment, Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows, and Charles Panacek's Belle City Amusements. Among other highlights on his route are the Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, and Wisconsin State Fair, West Allis.
    Realizing that the games business has undergone drastic changes in recent years, Fowler said, “You have to be able to adapt. Change is inevitable. You have to make sure you change with the times. Games, as you well know, have always been at the bottom of the food chain, but the economy is so good now that people have that extra money to spend after admission, food and rides. The season has been very good up to now, and I'm optimistic that it will continue. I think this is going to be a big year.”
    For Lou Pacifico and his wife, Vicki, who have been playing Miami-Dade since 1977, “this was our best ever, unbelievable,” according to Lou, who heads up the Meatball Factory. Their daughter, Nicole, and her husband, Ryan Collmer, had the No. 2 food stand with turkey legs, and were fourth, with barbecue. Pacifico was fifth, with corn dogs.
    “And if you eliminate the two beer vendors, we were eighth with Burger Bobs, run by my son-in-law, Robert Diaz, and his wife, Rose, and ninth, with a chicken stand run by our son, Aaron Pacifico, and his wife, Kristen. Fair officials said that counting the whole family, we grossed more than $1 million.”
    Asked what made the difference from previous years, Pacifico pondered and said, “First of all, the weather was very good. The new president and CEO, Eddie Cora, made sure there were plenty of promotions, including two $3 Wednesdays. The first was not so big, but the second was tremendous. Last year there was a $10 charge for parking, and they eliminated that, and they did away with the so-called Magic Money, which never worked at this fair. Plus, the carnival (North American Midway Entertainment, led by Tony Diaz) looked really good. When a fair will work with us, we will always produce. We opened our season at West Palm Beach (the Rick Vymlatil-managed South Florida Fair), and we were way up, despite rain and bad weather. We had six stands in there,” said Pacifico.
    Next was the Cheryl Flood-managed Florida State Fair, Tampa, where The Meatball Factory had two stands booked on the independent midway. “We were up there. It was okay.” Upcoming are the Howard County 4-H Fair, Greentown, Indiana, July 8-13; Elkhart County 4-H Fair and Agricultural Exposition, Goshen, Ind., July 19-27, and the Cynthia Hoye-managed Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, Aug. 2-18.
    Something different is occurring this year in Elkhart, where fair President Joseph Culp has announced that opening day will include $5 First Friday specials. Examples of bargains include a $5 gate admission, a free ride on North American Midway Entertainment's Ferris Wheel from 5pm to 6pm, and food deals. Kevin McGrath's Best Around Concessions is offering a smorgasbord of tasty treats ranging from jumbo corn dogs to funnel cakes, fruit smoothies, and Saratoga chips. Pacifico, no doubt, will be part of the action, after loving the $3 deals at Miami-Dade.
    Pacifico said he used to book with Conklin Shows, but his route is now all independent except for one unit with NAME at The Big E (Eastern States Exposition), West Springfield, Massachusetts. One of his latest hot items is a dilly dilly corndog, which is basically a hot dog inside a dill pickle.”We introduced it at Goshen last year, sold it for $8, and the fair helped us to publicize it. We did the same at The Big E, and it was hard to keep up with the sales, unbelievable.”
    For supplies, Pacifico deals with Hopkins Food Services of Cairo, Ga. He is also part of Storm Services, along with Tommy Hopkins, Charley Cox, Dennis and Cheryl Reas of Carousel Foods, and others. “I have been doing business with them for 30 years and Tommy is a man of his word. If he tells you a price, that's exactly what it is. We hope to hold our prices the same this season, but with the rising costs of fuel, we may have to reconsider. We have to go up north, no way around that.”
    Pacifico sees many signs pointing to a very good season. “Last year was good. The economy is fantastic. People are spending and at Miami-Dade, I never saw so many $50 and $100 bills coming across the counter, so many of them. Credit cards account for about 18 per cent of our business.”

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

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