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  • Thu, November 07, 2019 3:40 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    From the desk of Vanessa Gagne:

     November 7, 2019

    The PACT Act
    passed the House last week and has also now passed the Senate.  It is ready for the President to either sign it into law or veto it.

    Proposition 10 in Texas overwhelmingly passed which gives handlers of military and law enforcement dogs the option to adopt them after service.

    The case for Nosey the elephant was dismissed on November 4th in the city of Moulton, Alabama.  Which is actually good news as it will allow the Liebels to file an appeal with higher courts. 


    'Out of tragedy we try to make something positive': Gov. DeWine signs amusement ride safety bill into law

    Humane Society calls for tougher exotic animal laws following deadly python incident

    Animal rights activists sue biggest US foie gras distributor
    Right after banning foie gras in the city of New York…

    Ben & Jerry’s sued for deceptive marketing in ‘happy cows’ case

    Owner of traveling exotic zoo wanted on felony animal cruelty charges, wife says he's being targeted

  • Thu, November 07, 2019 3:06 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    The Senate passed HB 189 (Tyler’s law) on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by a vote of 30-0.  Since the bill has an emergency clause, it will take effect immediately after the Governor’s signature.  For your information,  below is the LSC analysis of the bill.  Summaries have been included in previous legislative reports well.

    After Ohio State Fair tragedy, Gov. DeWine signs ‘Tyler’s Law’
    Dayton Daily News
    Nov. 6, 2019
    By Laura A. Bischoff, Columbus Bureau

    COLUMBUS — With the family members of Tyler Jarrell at his side, Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a measure aimed at strengthening Ohio’s amusement ride safety program.

    The law change comes more than two years after a horrific accident at the 2017 Ohio State Fair killed 18-year-old Jarrell and seriously injured seven others. A gondola on the Fire Ball ride snapped off and flung riders into the air and slammed them down onto the pavement in front of spectators.House Bill 189, named ‘Tyler’s Law,’ seeks to strengthen safety inspection standards, define qualifications for ride inspectors and clearly outline ride owner responsibilities.“Ohioans have a right to know when they put a child on a ride or they get on a ride themselves everything that can be done has been done to make sure that ride is as safe as it can be,” DeWine said.Ohio’s inspectors are responsible for checking ride safety at 51 go-kart tracks, 362 portable companies such as fairs and festivals, and 149 permanent companies, including two of the nation’s largest amusement parks: Cedar Point and Kings Island. They’re also assigned to inspect water parks and inflatable bouncy houses.Related: One-year after State Fair tragedy, families ‘live with this every day’Related: Two-years after Fire Ball accident, Ohio changes fair vendorsThe law will require state officials adopt an amusement ride classification system to help identify which rides need more comprehensive inspections; set rules governing a minimum number of inspectors and inspections; give hiring preference for inspectors who hold national certifications; require more detailed maintenance and repair records from the ride owner; and mandate that ride operators share any safety warnings with the state’s chief inspector.

    Inspection fees would be increased from $49 to $75 — enough for the state to hire two additional inspectors.Jarrell’s mother, Amber Duffield, who lobbied for the law change, gave DeWine a dragon fly pin that signifies that loved ones who died are never far away. “After the governor shared with me the loss of his own child, I felt that was appropriate because it tells us not to lose hope, we’re going to see them again,” she said.DeWine’s daughter Becky died in an automobile crash in 1993 at the age of 22.Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

  • Thu, November 07, 2019 2:47 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Guy and Charlene Leavitt, owners of Ray Cammack Shows were ecstatic after what Guy called a very good, record-breaking Arizona State Fair, Phoenix, where the carnival was up an overall 25 per cent.

    The 135th annual event, held Oct. 4-27, with Mondays and Tuesdays off, posted attendance of 1,262,868, according to Executive Director Wanell Costello. Cammack has held the midway pact since 1980.

    Asked what made the fair so good, Guy first complimented Costello and staff for an excellent marketing plan that included a strong talent lineup with 13 concerts in Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Monster Trucks, and Indian Rodeo, the first Esports Gaming World competition, the first MMA event in over a decade, and the second annual Arizona State Dance Championships.

    The talent lineup included Lil Pump, Becky G, The Cult, Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo, Billy Currington, Trace Adkins, Chase Rice, Stryper, MC Hammer, Fiesta Friday, with NB Ridaz, Lil Rick, DJ Kane, and Kid Frost, Len Brice, Matthew West, Zach Williams, and Awolimation.

    Continuing, Leavitt said, “We had perfect weather, the excellent economy helped a lot, and we brought in four new rides out of the 70 that were set up. The No. 1 ride was R50XL Wheel that is 55 meters, or 150 feet high. The Titan, tallest portable ride in the U. S., made its first appearance in Phoenix.” Made by Fabbri, Leavitt said it is like a giant Speed ride that is 17 stories tall. Also new were a Tea Cup, Gosette-manufactured Ice Jet and two bottle up games.

    Our new app phone for a cashless midway helped expand our gross. They don't ever have to go to a ticket box. We created this inhouse through Mr. Burback (Ron Burback of Funtastic Shows, Portland, Oregon, a dear friend to both of us,” said Leavitt.

    He said on the second to last Sunday, the fair had all the local service groups, firefighters, police, ambulance and other organizations come in and demonstrate their equipment. “It’s a good thing.”

    Asked about his H-2B Visa foreign labor, Cammack said, “It would make it a lot more difficult for the entire industry to operate if we didn't have them. We were lucky enough to get our full allotment.”
    Leavitt praised his 65-games operation, which is operated by Annie Kastl, whose husband, Joe, works with rides, and Steve Charleston, whose wife, Deb, is in charge of inventory, RVs, and parking. “They call her Mrs. Hud since she takes care of housing. On the Friday after the fair closed we had a big 50th wedding anniversary for the Charlestons.” Asked if there were any other news for RCS which ended its season and doesn't open again until the March 3-22 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Leavitt smiled and said, “We had a banner season, with record runs at most of our locations. Oh, and as far as I know, nobody's pregnant.”

    Reached after the Oct. 25-Nov. 3 Cape Fear Fair & Expo, Wilmington, N. C., Les (Corky) Powers, who owns Powers Great American Midways with his wife, Debbie, who is first vice chair of OABA, said, “I'm ready to go home.”

    Powers had played the Oct. 17-27 North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, where attendance was 938,029, according to Kent Yelverton, GM. Last year's attendance was 977,256 and in 2017, it was 1,014,475. Powers said his gross numbers reflected the attendance as he was down by six per cent.

    But we feel good about that, knowing we wound up doing the best that was possible.” He said the season was very challenging since he didn't get his allotment of H-2B foreign workers early. “We got them six weeks late, but the important thing is we did get them. It would have been virtually impossible to work without them.” Powers said that in the spring he set up only 18 rides at some spots, and it required two days to tear them down because of the lack of qualified help. He added, “We ended up with a good season and feel lucky that we got what we got.” Ninety-four rides were set up in Raleigh, with Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows, and Bob DeStefano's Dreamland Amusements also providing equipment. “We had a good layout and had to combat some really bad weather. We got lucky on the Saturday, however, when the South Carolina State Fair got rained out. We had threats but avoided the storms and had a good crowd.”

    Some highlights of the year were the Dutchess County Fair, Rhinebeck, N. Y., the Montgomery County Fair, Gaithersburg, Md., and Great Allentown, Pa. Fair. “Once we got into our fair seasons all our dates were up. Last year we lost part, or all of our fairs in Concord, Greenville, and Goldsboro, North Carolina, due to the hurricane. All of them were good, with nice weather this year.”

    Winter quarters are in Whiteville, N. C. “We'll be busy there and we'll go out again with Frank's Wade Shows at the South Florida State Fair, West Palm Beach, in January, and the Florida State Fair, Tampa, in February. And then it's on to the trade show in Gibsonton.”

    Talent at North Carolina included Natural Wonder, a Tribute to Stevie Wonder, The Embers, featuring Craig Wooland, a Folk Festival, Branford Marsalis Quartet, Charlie Daniels Band, Pure Prairie League, featuring Craig Fuller, American Aquarium, and David Childers and Race Driver Kyle Petty.

    Also, Bandaloni, The Flippin' Aerial and Acrobatic Spectacular, Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, a Parrot-Riding Pirate, Stilt Circus, Steel Drum Corps, and the No.1 attraction, the State Fair SkyGazer, a 155 ft. tall Ferris Wheel with 15-mile sight lines.

    It's always interesting to hear from Jeremy Parsons, CEO/Manager of the Clay County Fair, Spencer, Iowa, where Mike Featherston's Goldstar Amusements provides the midway.

    I've worked in the past with Myles Johnson, Jim Frost, Phil Hurst, and the last eight years, with Parsons, who like his predecessors, became active in the Mighty Midwest Fair Managers Association.

    I left you a voice mail, but I thought I would send an e-mail as well,” he said. “Well, the fair was interesting. We had five days of rain, one cancelled grandstand performance by Foreigner, and a cancelled Veterans Day Parade. With the bad weather, attendance dipped below 300,000, about four per cent from last year. BUT, despite the weather it was a smooth fair.

    “People were happy and spending money. Our food and carnival gross were only down by two per cent. That was very interesting, considering the weather and the bad agricultural economy. So, although I would like to complain, I really can't.”

    Parsons said that Goldstar did another excellent job as the midway operator. They set three single day gross records, which was important since the first weekend was essentially a washout.

    Thanks for all you do. I enjoy reading your column every week to get the real scoop.”

    Well, here it is. Attendance for the Sept. 7-15 event was 296,998, down from 308,603. Grandstand events drew 17,368 and included Chuckwagon Races, Jon Pardi, with Jake Rose, Michael W. Smith, with Turen Wells, Maddie Pope, with Maggie Lindemann, and the ageless Leroy Van Dyke's Country Gold Show, with Moe Bandy, Jimmy Fortune. T. Graham Brown, and Steve and Rudy Gatlin.

    Tom Gaylin of Rosedale Attractions called to say I finally got one right, and he was talking about my prediction that the Washington Nationals would win the World Series, which they did. I take umbrage since I also chose the Philadelphia Whiz Kids in 1950.

    I don't usually do something like this, but I heard a song I liked so much while watching the HBO show called The Affair, starring Dominic West and Maura Tierney, that I want to recommend it. It's called “The Whole of the Moon,” by a group I never heard of called The Waterboys. Google it, as I did, and let me know what you think. 

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

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Wed, November 06, 2019 12:31 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*
      (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      10/21/19 10/28/19 11/04/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.050 3.064 3.062   values are down -0.002 values are down -0.276
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.045 3.056 3.041   values are down -0.015 values are down -0.288
    New England (PADD1A) 3.045 3.028 3.034   values are up 0.006 values are down -0.328
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.235 3.246 3.244   values are down -0.002 values are down -0.254
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.916 2.932 2.905   values are down -0.027 values are down -0.300
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.957 2.963 2.955   values are down -0.008 values are down -0.331
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.802 2.806 2.795   values are down -0.011 values are down -0.311
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.044 3.082 3.166   values are up 0.084 values are down -0.232
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.675 3.724 3.746   values are up 0.022 values are down -0.087
    West Coast less California 3.290 3.379 3.413   values are up 0.034 values are down -0.125
    California 3.980 3.998 4.011   values are up 0.013 values are down -0.057
    *prices include all taxes


  • Thu, October 31, 2019 11:40 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    As I began to write this, I was vividly reminded of how resilient most people in the carnival and fair business are, and what a great sense of humor most have; and if you think I'm being careful with my words, it's because they represent just about every walk of life.

    I hesitate to attach a label since perception is a problem with most who never get to know this decent, hardworking group. The lifestyle is different since they move around so much, but the hopes and desires are the same as they are for coal miners, bankers, etc.

    The resiliency comes to mind at the Oct. 9-20 South Carolina State Fair, Columbia, where there was plenty of rain, but the ride gross for North American Midway Entertainment actually rose by one per cent. According to Nancy Smith, general manager and chief financial officer of the 150th annual fair, attendance was 416,320. That was down six per cent from last year's 443,712. Concessions revenue was down by 4.5 per cent.

    “We had rain the first Sunday and had to close the midway at 8 p.m. We had more rain on Tuesday, and it was overcast Wednesday. It rained the last Saturday and instead of the 56,000 who turned out in good weather last year, we had only 11,000 brave souls,” said Smith.

    Like many, I happened to be watching the Florida-South Carolina football game on television, which was played in a driving rain in a stadium directly across the street from the fair. The TV cameras often zeroed in on the almost empty midway. Earl (Louisville Junior Junior) Scheler, who has Aunt Martha's Concessions, even posted a picture on Facebook of a virtually empty midway.

    Before I forget the sense of humor statement, my wife, Christine, read something to me off Facebook as I headed to the computer. Leah O'Neil, a well-known food concessionaire from St. Paul, asked if anybody else was having problems with Coca-Cola. Before the ink had dried, as we used to say, Candy Anderson, who has Coca-Cola Bottle Up games, answered, “It doesn't go good with vodka.” I can remember when Coke's Joe Oblander was everywhere promoting his product, while John Frank did the same for Pepsi after Sam Nattis, with his one arm, retired.

    Smith pointed out that the fair had lots of changes. Instead of booking talent in the grandstand, as had been done for many years through Jimmy Jay of Jayson Promotions, Hendersonville, Tenn., the fair featured a circus. Three free shows a day were done in a tent that seated 1,300. It was promoted by John Juliano of Mellowship Entertainment, who booked the talent for many years at The Big E (Eastern States Exposition), West Springfield, Mass., and veteran circus operator Ian Garden of Canada. A smaller 1,000-seat Pepsi Place Arena featured local and regional artists. New was a Heritage Village, featuring all kinds of crafts, and a popular attraction was Zach Johnson's Swify Swine Racing Pigs.

    Smith said a highlight for her was having her 103-year-old mother, Mary Smith, ride NAME's new 150 feet high Ferris Wheel. Scooter Korek of NAME accompanied her on the ride.

    Asked about NAME's contract, Smith said that will be decided soon. The Midway contract went out to bid this year and Smith said there were six carnival companies submitting bids.

    The top 10 grossing food operators were Butch, Ann, Ronnie and Kim Netterfield's Popcorn and Floss Concessions, with eight stands, followed by Cheryl Reas's Carousel Foods; Jerry Price's Fisk French Fries; Lou Pacifico's Meatball Factory; Earl (Junior Junior) Scheler's Aunt Martha's; Daley's, Carolina Fine Foods; Mr. Kim's Oriental Foods; Rusty Groscurth's Super Dogs, and Little Richard Thomas.

    I just found out that the Oct. 17-27 North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, had its lowest attendance in five years, 938,029. In a way, that's good and bad for Powers Great American Midways, which has the contract, in collaboration with Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows, which pays the fair a per cap, based on how many attend.

    I was once told the North Carolina Fair is one where everybody makes money, and I've never heard anything to the contrary. Attendance last year was 977,256, and it was 1,014,487 in 2017. The record of 1,091,887 was established in 2010. The best day this year was the second Saturday when a whopping 136,448 turned out. I'll have more on this fair, where Ken Yelverton is GM next week.

    Danny Huston, chairman of the board for NAME, said it has been a very good season, and cited several examples, besides South Carolina. The Sept. 26-Oct. 6 Tulsa, Oklahoma State Fair, drew estimated attendance of 1,040,000, according to Amanda Blair, chief operating officer. The ride gross, including Mega Ride Passes, was $3,595,337. A total of 17,523 Mega Bands were purchased. The top three of 65 rides were the Starship, Polar Express, and Giant Wheel. The fair's Sky Ride had 31,201 passengers.

    PRCA Rodeo had a sellout performance of 6,292. Ten shows of Disney on Ice Mickey’s Search Party had attendance of 16,489. The food and beverage gross for ExpoServe was $1,409,601.

    Entertainers included Ben and Noel Haggard, Aaron Watson, Genuwine, For King & Country, Lovelytheband, Lanco, Bone Thugs N' Harmony, Rival Sons, Chris Janson, Whiskey Myers, and La Fiera De Ojinaga.

    The 106th annual Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson, which was held Sept. 6-15, had attendance of 337,400, up from 328,000 last year. Pat Repp, who was in charge for NAME, with Tom Thebault said, “It was the best fair we ever had.” Robin Jennison finished a second year as general manager. Booking in were Jeremy Floyd with four rides, Joe Clair and Chris Atkins, with three food and four rides, and Sue McDaniel, with a back end piece.

    From there, Repp and Thebault went to the East Texas State Fair, Tyler, where John Sykes is GM. “We had an all-time record high gross there,” said Repp. Among those booked in was Nick Konkey.

    Grandstand entertainment at Kansas included Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots, Billy Currington, Francesca Battistelli and Zach Williams, Lauren Alain, Hanson, Lindsay Ell with Madison Kozak, and Mason Ramsey, known as the 12-year-old Little Hank Williams. Also, Hypnotist Ron Diamond, the Fearless Flores Thrill Show, Bandaloni, Jason D'Vaude, and Strong Man John Beatty.

    The Sept. 20-28 Bloomsburg, Pa. Fair had great weather and posted attendance of 411,869. Paul Reichert has been president for many years. Since Bloomsburg is only 69 miles from my hometown of Scranton, I visited this great fair many times. I recall when Pat Patterson was manager, and then Fred Trump. I always saw a lot of familiar faces, including vendors Pierogi Joe Stanavage, Tony Thomas, Pretzel Man Paul Heck, and visitors from the area.

    Amusements of America has the midway now and the Vivona family had a successful year. They wind up their season at the Coastal Carolina Fair, Ladson, S. C., which is always right after the South Carolina State Fair. I often visited the late Bill Lordy and his elephant ear operation at both of those tremendous events.

    Always noted for a solid talent lineup (Bloomsburg had Garth Brooks when nobody else did), this year didn't disappoint, with Toby Keith, Old Dominion, Cheap Trick, and Amy Grant. The best day at the 164th annual fair was the closing Sunday, with 68,652 on the grounds.

    I was sorry to hear of the death of Bob Driskill, the epitome of a friendly, smiling Irishman, who was 76. His son, Robby has been doing an excellent job of running Smokey's Greater Shows in Maine, formerly owned by George (Bud) and Jeanette Gilmore.

    Bob owned McDermott's Amusements, and later, Spectacular Attractions in the Chicago area. The guy was a former detective and marine. My best memory is when he booked in with whoever had the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville around 1976 or that time period. After talking for a while, I found out he was either without electricity in his trailer, or something. Anyway, I offered to let him come to my apartment to take a shower. He was very grateful. Small gestures often make big differences in people's lives.

    Bill Blake constantly amazes me. The owner of what he calls the Great European Slide in Olympia, Washington, traveled as a manager for many years with Ron and Bev Burback's Funtastic Shows. Always laconic, and to the point, he e-mailed me: “It is great reading articles about the outdoor business that are expressly written by someone who likes and knows about our business. Keep the good work up. From your friend in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Bill.” Thanks!

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

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Mon, October 28, 2019 3:18 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    News for Immediate Release

    10700 Medallion Drive | Cincinnati, Ohio 45241 | gmpopcorn.com
    For more information about the release or images, contact Heather Gims at
    800-543-0862 ext. 2384 or hgims@gmpopcorn.com .

    Gold Medal earns recognition on the Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100
    The company ranks among the top privately-held companies in greater Cincinnati

    The Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100 recently released its annual ranking of the largest, privately held companies in the greater Cincinnati area. The list includes the top 100 companies by sales. Gold Medal Products Co. is pleased to announce the company ranked at No. 66 for 2019. This marks the 25th year that Gold Medal has been included on the list.

    President of Gold Medal, Adam Browning emphasized the significance of this accomplishment, “It is both an honor and a responsbility to uphold the standards required to achieve recognition on the Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100. We are proud of what this collection of companies shows about the strength and health of the Cincinnati business community. Gold Medal looks forward to continuing to contribute to the local area’s prosperous economic development.”

    Since the launch of the Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100 in 1983, the program has honored greater Cincinnati’s most recognizable private companies. The list ranks the top 100 companies by sales, as determined by a voluntarily submitted qualification form. In order to be eligible for the Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100, companies must be privately held and headquartered in the 18-county tristate area. For more information visit www.deloitte.com/us/cincinnati100.

  • Thu, October 24, 2019 6:01 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    The PACT Act
    , which relates to animal crush videos, was reported by several news sources as having been passed as Federal law this past week.  That is incorrect information - after House debate it was agreed upon in House by way of a motion to pass the bill as amended and now it is being heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  That is not the same as the bill being passed by both the House and the Senate and then going to the president to be signed into law.
    H.R. 742 Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act

    Macy’s will stop selling fur by the end of 2020 fiscal year
    Macy's bans fur sales in move celebrated by animal rights activists

    Arkansas to phase out greyhound racing by the end of 2022
    Arkansas to be free from greyhound racing starting in 2023

    More New and Updates >>>

  • Thu, October 24, 2019 5:29 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Bette Reithoffer, matriarch of the Reithoffer Shows family has been admitted to a rehabilitation center in Sun City, Florida following a broken leg at the State Fair of West Virginia. Daughter Jan (Reithoffer) Stoorza said her mom is doing great following a month-long ordeal of surgery and intermediate rehabilitation in West Virginia. “She is doing remarkably well, especially at 98 years of age, so we’re glad we could get her home. She is comfortable and many of her friends are around her,” says Jan.

    Please send cards and notes to:

    Bette Reithoffer
    1908 Acadia Greens Drive
    Sun City, FL 33573

    We’re sure Bette would appreciate some mail from all of her friends on the fair and show circuit.

    Best wishes to Bette during her recovery.

  • Wed, October 23, 2019 9:31 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Mitchell Glieber, in his sixth year as president of the 133rd State Fair of Texas, Dallas, called this year's Sept. 27-Oct. 20 extravaganza extremely successful, with attendance of 2.5 million.

    That topped last year's 2,049,118. “We presented a very good product and the weather cooperated,” said Glieber. Asked about a tornado that hit the area on the closing night of the fair, Glieber said, “We were lucky. We had wind, lightning and rain, but it struck after 9 p.m., so all we lost were the people already on the grounds. We thank everyone who helped make this year's Fair a success, enabling us to give back to Fair Park, the surrounding communities, and award scholarships to students throughout the Lone Star State.”

    Artists performing on the Chevrolet Main Stage, booked again through Glen Smith Presents, included Rick Springfield, 98 Degrees, Daughtry, Jacquess, Cameo, La Maquinaria Nortena, Hotel California, A Tribute to The Eagles, Tye Tribbett, Bob Schneider, Big and Rich, with Cowboy Troy, Billy Ray Cyrus, Shane & Shane, Shining Star, a Tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire, and Gary R. Nunn.

    I usually call Ron Burback, owner of Funtastic Shows, Portland, Oregon, when he's headed home from the Washington State Fair, Puyallup, but this year it's a few weeks after the Aug. 30-Sept. 22 event. “I knew you'd get around to me,” he said, when I called.

    I had already been told by Stacy Van Home, Public Relations Manager for the fair that it was a great one, with attendance of over one million. She also said that the carnival ride gross was up by a whopping 12 per cent. Kent Hojem has been the Chief Executive Officer there for more than 20 years. It was before that, when I was editor of Amusement Business, and Bob Carlson held that position, when I visited for the first time. I admit that I had never heard of Puyallup and had no idea of how big and what a great fair it is.

    One of the memories I do have is of being hosted royally by Carlson and the Burbacks, and even playing some touch football on an afternoon with the venerable Oak Ridge Boys, who were performing that night. Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban, like me, are ardent fans of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. But make no mistake about it that Duane Allen is the leader of the group that has played the Kentucky State Fair, Louisville, for almost 40 years in a row. William Lee Golden still sports his beard, and I've been around long enough to recall when a friend of ours, Noel Fox, was an original member. Jim Halsey promoted them, along with the late Roy Orbison and a number of other stars. In fact, Halsey held a big party for 20 or more of his acts in Independence, Kansas, over Halloween.

    The name of it was Neewollah, which is Halloween spelled backwards, and Halsey invited a large contingent of the press, including yours truly, and a member of the prestigious New York Times as well. I became the star of the group when everybody realized I knew Bob Ottaway, whose Ottaway Amusements, had the carnival at the event. I remember him being shocked when I presented myself and he said he had always wanted AB to visit his show, adding, “But I never thought they'd send the big man.”

    Bob and I made a lot of people happy as he gladly gave free rides and game prizes, especially Teddy Bears. The pompous Times guy told a female reporter he'd win her a prize. About $100 or more later, he virtually begged me to obtain one for him to give to her.

    I haven't forgotten Burback. He is one the wisest and kindest show owners I've ever had the pleasure of being around. When he and I were on the OABA Hall of Fame Committee, when things came up for a vote, we were often the only two who had been around long enough to remember anything about the candidates. Ron has strong ideas about the worthiness of getting into the Hall.

    He said the last Saturday was the biggest one day he has ever had in the business, with 113,000 people on the grounds, and his carnival goes back to 1970, and even before that when Bob Bollinger, his partner, specialized in the rides, and Burback became a master of the games department. His employees walk around neatly in uniforms, looking like business executives.

    My whole season has been outstanding. It's the best year we've had in years. People have money and are spending. We had a break with the weather, and spot after spot after spot was up. The other aspect of that is our state's wages are among the highest in the country. It's $12 an hour, and soon to go up to $13.50. We'll pay whatever it is, somehow. But we even had to drop some spots due to the wage increases.”

    Burback said the Puyallup Spring Fair has grown to become one of the biggest in the state. He said some highlights of the year included the show's second appearance at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden, the Lane County Fair, Eugene, Oregon, and one of Funtastic's oldest spots, the Capital Lakefair Festival in Olympia, Washington. When asked about the impressive talent lineup at Puyallup, Burback said it has little effect on his business.

    At Eugene, which was held July 24-28, one of the acts was Martina McBride, whose brother owns Janarty's in Smyrna, Tenn., which is up the road from where Christine and I live. He makes the best homemade ice cream in the world, and even did Pistachio, especially for me. They had a strong lineup in Eugene, which also included Chris Janson, Little River Band, Lifehouse, and Jayna Kramer.

    Puyallup had one sellout, by Keith Urban. Other acts included The Beach Boys, Billy Idol, Weezer, Eli Young Band, Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, Brad Paisley, Old Dominion, Jeff Dunbar, Chris Tomlin, Charlie Wilson, John Crist, Cadillac Three, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Aaron Watson, Ciarra, with Mix-A-Lot, and Foreigner.

    Holly Swartz, who owns Hitch-Hiker Manufacturing of New Middletown, Ohio, with her husband, Jeff, sent me a nice note. It read, in part: “I was just reading your “On the Earie” in the OABA Showtime with the record breaking numbers about the Minnesota State Fair. Until this year Jeff and I had never attended the fair.

    We have had a pretty good production year and had two customers who needed trailers for the Minnesota State Fair. Jeff and I decided to fly there, and it was a WOW! The new Smokey’s Grill, owned by Denny and Barb Smith, was next to their CinnySmith's trailer in a great location by Nate and Stephanie Janousek's new Hanger venue.

    The other new unit, the Blue Ox Burger Bar, owned by Paula Kennedy Smith and Andy Smith had a fun illustrated Paul Bunyan-ish theme and was located by the Warner Coliseum. Jeff and I got to visit with our new customers and roamed around, saying hello to past customers, and meeting some great new people. To end the night, Jeff and I headed to the OABA's H-2B fundraiser that the Janouseks put on. It was a great one. Greg Chiecko and others came together for a great cause. If somebody has never been to one, they are missing out. Nate and Stephanie laid out a great spread of top notch food and got donations for some fantastic prizes to silent auction off. To my surprise, he even had a YETI cooler that was so big he said you could bury your spouse in it, figuratively speaking. Take care of yourself, and best regards.” Those jamborees, often conducted by OABA's Al De Rusha, are always fun.

    I'm not going to bet on it, but I am predicting the Washington Nationals will beat the Houston Astros in seven games to win the World Series. I actually lived for a year in D. C., in 1955. I rode a trolley to 25 of the then Washington Senators baseball games.

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

  • Wed, October 23, 2019 9:09 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Carnival Warehouse
    by Timothy Herrick

    Many northern fairs in the U. S., such as the Iowa State Fair and the Minnesota State Fair broke records, bolstered mainly by a late summer streak of good weather. Mother Nature's favor also shone on the U. S.'s neighbor to the north, where North American Midway Entertainment's (NAME) Canadian route spreads across four provinces from June through September.

    NAME plays some of the largest outdoor events in the country, including such renowned fairs as the Red River Exhibition, K-Days, Calgary Stampede and the Canadian National Exhibition, according to Scooter Korek, Vice President of Client Services, NAME and immediate-past president of Canadian Association of Fairs & Exhibitions. “There were fairs setting records this year, just like the states,” he said. “What really helped was good weather.”

    Another factor was an improving Canadian economy. The Canadian economy recovered more slowly than the U. S. from the Great Recession that afflicted both nations; however 2019 finally saw a much anticipated upswing. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 2019 saw a 4-decade low in unemployment. Compared to 2018, people were more upbeat and ready to spend.

    Record Year
    “We haven't finalized all the attendance and revenue figures, but we are up from last year,” he said. “Canada is doing pretty good, things are better than a year ago. All the big fairs set records or near records this year. People were spending, people were riding.”

    He added, “Some areas are doing as well as others, but our numbers were still up.

    The fairs still offer value, and in places like the Calgary Stampede, the community always supports the fair.”

    Korek credited the fairs for upgrading their marketing and expanding their programming in 2019, creating what is tantamount to a boom year. “The fairs are doing a better job at connecting with their customers. They are providing a compelling product that people want to visit.”

    The Canadian fairs are keeping to tried-and-true practices. “A lot of fairs found that formula,” he said. That formula – in order of importance – is Free Entertainment; Food; Midway Rides, Social Experience; and Agriculture. “They've been working on this formula and in the past 20 years, these fairs have really come into their own.”

    Foodie Nation
    As a carnival company, the midway rides may be the most important to Korek, even if they are only number three. However, he did emphasize that the social experience of the fair – and the fair organizers understanding how to continually enrich that experience – was key to this year's successful run. “Fairs are the last bastion of a real life experience,” he said. “They're participatory. People go with their friends. Fairs are reaping the benefits of maintaining that experience, this year and into the future.”

    The second quotient in the formula – Food – Korek noted as being a growing attendee draw. Not only is Foodie culture as rampant in Canada as in the U. S., but many fairs expanded their fair cuisine offerings in 2019.

    “The food thing really jumped out to me this year,” he said. “The food vendors in Canada have really come into their own. There is a real quality to what they are serving, and also to their presentations. People ignore their diets and come down to the fair to eat.”

    While the fairs' food vendors may have been expanded beyond Poutine, the NAME midway edibles focused on traditional fair fare, such as corn dogs, candy apples and mini-donuts. The company recently upgraded food & beverage presentations, especially the lemonade and mini-donut stand. “We have the best mini-donuts. We are constantly upgrading our product and our presentation. We have worked hard to transform the midway into a kaleidoscope of colors.”

    The new star of the NAME midway in 2019 was the super-spectacular ride Star Dancer. The company premiered the ride at some of its early 2019 events, then brought it north for the annual summer route. “They never saw anything like this in Canada,” he said. “It was a big hit. The Star Dancer and our Giant Wheel were busy from the opening to the closing of every fair we played.”

    At the South Carolina State Fair, NAME unveiled its brand new 46m Giant Wheel (read more about it on CarnivalWarehouse).

    The 2019 season also saw upticks in advanced sales for the company. “We also worked constantly with the fairs this year to offer great discounts, like Kid Day promotions. We did more promotions this year and they worked.”

    Foreign Workers Welcomed
    One crucial aspect of being a midway provider in Canada that their American counterparts are sure to envy is the labor force situation. Unlike the unstable – and often unpredictable—U. S. foreign worker system that wreaked havoc on many companies in 2019, Canada has a more logical and dependable system. “The Canadian government sees the value of the temporary workers on their economy,” he said. “The national government really works with you.”

    Korek had a crew of 137 South African employees, without a hint of the problems that plague the visa program in the states.

    In addition, stable fuel prices and other costs meant a lack of other headaches that can hamper a season.

    “We had a good run in Canada this year. The fairs are really doing a good job of staying relevant by putting on a one of kind experience that people still enjoy.”

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