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  • Tue, April 23, 2019 11:02 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*  
    (dollars per gallon)full history
              Change from
      04/08/19 04/15/19 04/22/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.093 3.118 3.147   values are up 0.029 values are up 0.014
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.137 3.153 3.174   values are up 0.021 values are up 0.032
    New England (PADD1A) 3.193 3.205 3.217   values are up 0.012 values are up 0.046
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.324 3.342 3.370   values are up 0.028 values are up 0.075
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.998 3.015 3.033   values are up 0.018 values are up 0.005
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.993 3.010 3.042   values are up 0.032 values are down -0.005
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.879 2.899 2.917   values are up 0.018 values are down -0.019
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 3.028 3.082 3.143   values are up 0.061 values are down -0.038
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.591 3.651 3.696   values are up 0.045 values are up 0.080
    West Coast less California 3.189 3.252 3.309   values are up 0.057 values are down -0.057
    California 3.910 3.967 4.003   values are up 0.036 values are up 0.188
    *prices include all taxes
  • Tue, April 23, 2019 11:42 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Second Largest Donation to Date

    Eastern States Exposition President and CEO, Eugene J. Cassidy made a donation of $236,423 to The Big E/West Springfield Trust Fund, the second largest gift in the fund’s history. The amount represents 1% of the Exposition’s gross revenues for 2018 and contributions to the Fund, including this year’s gift, now total $4,236,423. The check was presented in a special ceremony held at Town Hall April 23.

    “The support of youth, elderly and education in our hometown is of great importance and the Exposition is pleased to have continued the tradition of donating to this fund annually for the past 25 years. Every qualifying town organization or agency should consider applying for a grant to supplement its important projects,” Cassidy said.

    Fund trustees award a percentage of the donation to benefit education, youth and the elderly in West Springfield and leave the remainder to accrue. Trustees of the Fund are West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt, Cassidy, and Attorney Mary Paier Powers.

    Read entire press release here >>>>

  • Thu, April 18, 2019 1:30 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    A record attendance of more than 130,000 was recorded for the 33rd annual Clay County Fair, Green Springs, Fla., held April 4-13, according to Jackie Collins, office assistant to GM Tasha Hyder.

    Dale Negus, concession manager for Deggeller Attractions, which has provided the carnival midway from the beginning of the event, said there was a little rain on the first Saturday, “but the last two days were very big.”

    Negus, who has been with the carnival since 1974, when he was 13, said Green Cove Springs put a big capper on three dates that were within 35 miles of each other. They were the Bradford County Fair, Starke, where Negus said it was cold, but the fair continues to grow, and the Putnam County Fair, East Palatka. “They had two weekends, and it went as well as it always does.”

    Negus, who played collegiate football at Georgia Tech, under Coach Bill Curry, said, “Green Cove Springs just keeps growing. It is an unbelievable community event. Everybody with the show, including Andy Deggeller, an OABA director, and his wife, Jamie, are in awe of what they do. They had some really big name acts, more than usual, and when they tore the stage down they sold out for a couple of tractor pulls.”

    Collins, who has worked at the fair for 10 years, said former manager, Pete Sutton, dropped by for the kickoff luncheon ceremonies, and opening day. She said the talent included Devon Dawson and Drake White, Marshall Tucker, Big Daddy Weave, Shenandoah, Joe Diffie, Big and Rich, Roots & Boots, featuring Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, and Collin Raye, Jordan Davis and Jimmy Allen, and Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers. Acts were booked through 4 Walls Entertainment, of Auburndale, FL.

    Other entertainment included The Barnyard Cackle Revue, Da Johnson Power Band, Rosaire's Royal Racers, Disc-Connected K9s World Famous Frisbee Dog, Dennis Lee Band, Team T&J, Sweeney Family Band, Xpogo Stunt Team, Mac Ganoe, Agri-Puppets, and Dan Dan the Farmer Man.

    Booking with Deggeller were Gloria and Bobby Myers with their New York New York Funhouse, and a truck kiddie ride, and Michael Lauther with an Orbiter, two Funhouses, Tilt, and Pizza Stand. Perry Ristick came in with five games. Regulars with the show are Rob Myers and Alieta Hopp, with games, a grab joint, and a Yo Yo, and Puppy Ride. Assisting Negus and his wife, Sharon, with their Fair Play Games was their son, Dale Jr., 24, who graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, N. C. He is accompanied by his fiancee, Zane Vissera. They plan to marry on Nov. 28, 2020. That's what he said.

    The show's Scott MacNeill, the son, not the father, had the show's new Pinfari Klondike Roller Coaster, a Looping Star RL 42 model, set up with Ray Cammack Shows at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. It's the only Looping Coaster in the U. S. MacNeill said it moves on six trucks, has two Gondolas that hold 12 passengers each, and it was purchased from a carnival in Ireland. Originally manufactured for an amusement park, it was refurbished by Deggeller, with new scenery added. This is Deggeller's fourth Coaster. The others are what MacNeill described as the L&T Wild Mouse, SDC Wildcat, and Zierer Flitzer. It's MacNeill's job to move the KMG Hydra, KMG Space Port, which is called a Speed; Huss Enterprise, Huss Flipper, and Huss Top Spin Jr., which is currently being refurbished. Among the spectaculars set up at Green Cove Springs were the Chance Giant Wheel, Wildcat Coaster, which Deggeller calls the Riptide, Hydra, Speed, and Enterprise.

    In the official wrap-up of the March 14-April 7 Miami-Dade County Fair, Melissa Lichtenheld, Group Account Director for Wragg & Cass Strategic Communications, said attendance was 552,404, which represented an increase of 21 per cent over 2018. Eddie Cora, first year president and chief executive officer, was quoted, in part, as saying, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome.

    “Our strategy was to give guests the best value for their dollar and the numbers show we succeeded. Once again, we thank our concessionaires for their generosity toward our Scholarship Program. Their annual fundraising event (a golf tournament) contributed more than $60,000.” He added that North American Midway Entertainment's most popular ride was a Double Decker Carousel.

    Successful promotions included two $3 days on March 20 and April 3, drawing nearly 30,000 guests for $3 admission, $3 select foods, and $3 games. Pay-One-Price unlimited rides were $23, a savings of $5. The 21-day admission pass saw a 28 per cent increase over the previous year of sales, which was 2017, because that was not offered in 2018. As NAME's Tony Diaz said, “It was a great run.”

    I received a message from Darrell Desgranges, the Mizuno Pro, which said, “Tom: Glad to hear you are doing well after surgery. Our team in the Miami-Dade County Red Thornberry/Youth Fair Scholarship Golf Classic at the Melrose Country Club on April 1 comprised of Butch Netterfield, Jeff Blomsness, Duke Trombetti, John John (John Marconi), and Scotty Lane.” Trombetti, by the way, who once was in the carnival business, is now golf pro at the Country Club of Coral Springs.

    Desgranges noted that April 1 was also the birthday of Blomsness and to celebrate, he converted a 30 foot putt. “Over 650 steak and lobster dinners were served at the fairgrounds in the Netterfield Food Court, and Dennis Fraleigh's (Butcher Boys) provided the music.”

    Continuing, Desgranges, who is very good at providing me news, said he and Butch were still bummed out about Lou Piniella not making Baseball's Hall of Fame, “one vote short.” Butch and Lou grew up together while Butch lived in Trailer Village (Fowler and Nebraska) in Tampa. Others who lived in the park included Chris Christy, Danny Fleenor, Joie Chitwood, Jack Coxman, and many other notables from the business. Trailer Village was also the largest Spartan trailer dealer in the 1950s.

    “Butch tells of the Chitwoods practicing a new stunt in the park, of blowing up a casket with a person in it with dynamite.” That had to be Benny (Boom Boom) Koske). Desgranges said the charge was overloaded, blowing the windows out of most of the trailers in the park. I believe it.

    Desgranges finished with, “Spring is close in Michigan and Outdoor Mizuno Golf Promotions start this Saturday (April 6). Thanks for keeping us informed about the business.” Signed, “Your friend, Darrell Desgranges.” What memories he conjured up about Pinella, great player and manager whom I recall most as the right fielder for the New York Yankees; Christy, a huge Boston Red Sox fan, and former first class food operator, Fleenor,  who had the Hurricane Hell Drivers, and Joie Chitwood, whose daredevil thrill show I enjoyed watching numerous times at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

    Patty Dee, concession manager at Miami-Dade, informed me that Bruce Beck, who was the No. 8 food grossing operator, is the fair's new beer vendor. “His company name is Professional Concessions, Inc., and he does the alcohol at the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach.” Dee also said that Vicki Hunter, who came in 10th, with Fries, was Vicki’s last time she played the fair. I guess she got married.

    Michael Kramer, whose Funtime Foods was No. 1 again, with roasted corn, said his next booking isn't until the Ohio State Fair, Columbus, where he sells tater tots. Other fairs on his route include Erie County, Hamburg, N. Y.; New York State, Syracuse; State Fair of Virginia, Richmond; North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, and for the second year in a row, Georgia National Fair, Perry. “We wound up having a great experience there last year and doing well, despite losing a day to the hurricane.”

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

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Thu, April 18, 2019 12:17 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    Some good news and bad news on the legislative front -- 

    MO HB 559, the Working Animal Protection Act (to protect the use of animals in entertainment, exhibition, commerce, etc.) passed the Missouri House this week and is now being considered in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

    RI SB 167, to prohibit the use of wild or exotic animals in traveling animal acts, had a hearing on April 4, and the Committee recommended the measure be held for further study (which means the bill is most likely dead for the year, but we will keep monitoring just in case)

    CA SB 313, to ban the use of wild/exotic animals in traveling acts, unfortunately passed favorably out of the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee this week.  It has now been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Please see the Pending Legislation Chart for further details.

  • Thu, April 11, 2019 7:27 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Inaccurate Ad Targeting Industry Does Not Meet AT&T Core Values

    We are aware of the ATT Commercial "OK Carnival" that is distributed on television and across social media channels. The commercial is disturbing and insulting to our industry and the minority community.

    Your call to action is twofold.  First, post messages on Facebook, twitter and email on how insulting and disturbing the "OK Carnival" commercial is to you and the industry. Please use your own words and request that the commercial be withdrawn from all media platforms. Second, post on your personal accounts and ask your friends to share. Tell them how horrible this commercial is and ask them to help by sharing with all their friends. Click here to see official release

    Below is information on how to submit complaints on social media and other means:

    Upset at AT&T? Call the complaint line and tell them now! The company does have an official contact page, but social media is probably the best way to get a response to your problem.

    Tweet AT&T customer service on Twitter at @attcares or post a complaint to their Facebook page. If you would like to send a complaint to AT&T corporate headquarters, their mailing address is 208 South Akard Street, Dallas TX, 75202. 

    Contact the CEO with your problem! Write a letter to the corporate office. The most popular method of contacting AT&T with a complaint is by calling them, that phone number is 800-331-0500. They follow normal business hours of operation, so call between Monday and Friday, 8am-6pm EST. You can also email the support department 24/7 at attcustomercare@att.com.

    Thank you in advance for your advocacy on behalf of the industry.

    Greg Chiecko
    President & CEO

  • Thu, April 11, 2019 7:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    “We had a very good run, the best in a couple of years,” was the immediate reaction of Tony Diaz, manager of the North American Midway Entertainment unit that played the March 14-April 7 Miami-Dade County Fair, which had a tremendous increase in attendance from that of 2018.

    Michael Kramer, whose roasted corn operation was again the No. 1 food grosser, has a theory about why that happened. “They charged for parking last year and that did not go over well with the public, so under new management, (Eddie Cora replaced Bob Hohenstein as the president and chief executive officer) they got rid of that. They also got rid of so-called Magic Money that a concessionaire who no longer plays the fair, had convinced them into using.”

    Kramer and his late grandfather, Eddie Perls, have had the corn stand at the fair for 48 years. “I'm happy we were Number One again. The quality of food you serve speaks for itself. A nice flashy stand is one thing, but if the food is garbage, it doesn't matter.”

    “That Magic Money may work for amusement parks, but it doesn't work for us. Besides that, they had some great promotions, including $3 Wednesdays, when the gate admission was $3 and concessionaires offered a small item for $3. It's all about perception of value. You want the customer to leave feeling they had a good time and want to come back again, not that they spent a lot of money and it wasn't worth it.” Kramer lowered the price of an ear of corn this year from $5 to $4.50, noting, “five dollars is a bit of a sticker shock.” He admitted he picked up a few tricks after visiting Brad Ribar at his corn stand at the Minnesota State Fair last year. Some were very subtle, such as leaving a little space between the ears on the rack instead of stacking them next to each other. “Brad has an unbelievable operation.”

                Kramer agreed with Diaz that it wasn't a record year, but it was much better than last year, and an indication that things are turning around.
                “We were up substantially,” said Diaz, pointing out that the carnival, in its 15th year of operation, provided 98 rides, including a new Star Dancer from Interpark Amusements, which is based in the Provence of Modena, Italy. Booked in were Jeremy Floyd with his Space Roller, and Walter Gould, with a Frisbee ride. Diaz said Miami weather was great except for one day of rain that occurred during spring break.
                I asked Diaz about the Giant Wheel that was featured in Minneapolis during the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Final Four Basketball Tournament. He confirmed it is owned by NAME and was manufactured by Chance. It received plenty of exposure in media outlets, especially TV, for its sponsor, Capital One Banking. Danny Huston, president and chief executive officer of NAME, has been booking the Giant Wheel at Final Fours for several years. During the season, it travels with the Mid America Unit, which is run by Danny and his son, Blake. That unit has just opened in Indiana.
                Another unit, led by Pat Repp and Tom Thebault, opened Feb. 28 at Borderfest in Hidalgo, Texas, then played the Zapata County Fair, Zapata, and then spent three weeks in McAllen, Texas, where the show's winter quarters is located. That unit opened April 11 at a new spot, a mall in Alexandria, LA. After that, Repp plays a mall in Greenville, Mississippi, while Thebault heads to dates in Chicago.
                Diaz's unit moves to Pelham, Alabama, for the Oak Mountain Amphitheater State Fair, April 18-May 5. Operated by Live Nation, the venue, which is near Birmingham, is the largest in Alabama. “Then we go to St. Louis for a couple weeks before heading for our Canadian route,” said Diaz. The first spot is the 137th annual Manitoba Summer Fair in Brandon, June 5-9, followed by the Garth Rogerson-managed Red River Exhibition, Winnipeg, June 14-23.
                Patty Dee, veteran concession manager in Miami, provided a list of the top 10 food and games operators. Following Kramer were Ryan Collmer, turkey legs; Elizabeth Gray in third and ninth positions with her Beer 30 Saloon; Collmer, fourth, with barbecue; Lou (Meatball) Pacifico, Collmer's father-in-law, fifth, with corn dogs; Kristine Rieder, Blomsness's daughter, sixth, elephant ears; Dennis Fraleigh, kabobs; Bruce Beck, beer; and in 10th spot, Vicki Hunter, fries.
                In the games department, Bob Cassata, owner of Bob's Space Racers, was first with racing waters, and seventh, with water gun fun. Second was Joey Fowler with a balloon pop water. Fowler was also fifth with a balloon dart-1, and ninth with a vertical water game double decker. William Thornberry was third, with a break a bottle, and No. 8 with center balloon pop water game. Fourth was Cornelius Vermolen, with a claw game. In the sixth spot was Paul Lombard, with a basketball-3, and No. 10 was Jeremy Solem, with a Scooby Toss-1.
                Gray is recovering from her leg being paralyzed after a hip operation. She was excited to hear from me and said she was lucky to have two great managers, Becky Dobson, and Lorissa Smith, both of whom have been with her for many years. “We had a very successful run,” she stated. The daughter of Bea and the late Bob Negus, Gray travels during the season with Diaz's unit of NAME, operating the Fresh New Mini Doughnut stands, which she designed. She also has ice cream and coffee stands. The beer setup only works Miami. It has 21 taps and features craft beers and some other well selling brands. Gray offers a comfortable atmosphere, with couches, a bar, televisions showing mostly sports events, and she even has games, including corn hole, Jenga, and dominoes. “We make a great Margarita and sangria. One thing that helps with the beer is that we offer samples.”
                She's proud that her dad has been recognized as one of the first in the carnival  business to realize the importance of fairs and carnivals working together. He had a terrific relationship with E. Darwin Fuchs, when he ran the Miami-Dade County Fair. They'd cap off each night with a beverage and discuss what went right and what went wrong during the day. I was privileged to be a witness to the relationship.
                The first person to call and let me know the fair went very well was Chris Walden, concession manager for Tinsley Amusements. He even forwarded a picture of himself with Eddie Cora and Albert Montes, the fair's chief financial officer. Walden was heading on April 10 to the Tasha Hyder-managed Clay County Fair, Green Cove Springs, Fla., being held April 4-13, where a fundraiser to help the OABA's H-2B foreign Visa program was being held by Deggeller Attractions.
                Walden and his wife, Allison, also had their two poppers working, one in Arothia, Illinois, and the other in Charleston, Illinois. At Miami, their children, Hadleigh, nine, and Hampton, who turned six on April 9, both of whom are home schooled, were going on a field trip with members of the Deggeller School.
                Walden also assists Deputy Director Jim Sinclair in the concession department on the independent midway each year at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul.
                Needless to say, I was elated that Virginia won the national championship in basketball. My oldest daughter, Julia Mulherin, graduated from there and was a classmate of the great Ralph Sampson. Her daughter, Rose, and her husband, Michael, both Virginia graduates, attended the games and were the guests of my son, Tommy, and Paul Hill, who live in Minneapolis. Rose said she had never been to a state fair, so they' re returning over Labor Day where Jerry Hammer will show them what a great fair looks like. They all had a picture made with Sampson, who is seven feet, four inches tall. They looked like midgets. Hill, who dabbles in photography, snapped some incredible photos of the Chance Wheel.

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

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Thu, April 11, 2019 3:10 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices* 
     (dollars per gallon) full history
              Change from
      03/25/19 04/01/19 04/08/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.080 3.078 3.093   values are up 0.015 values are up 0.050
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.132 3.127 3.137   values are up 0.010 values are up 0.071
    New England (PADD1A) 3.214 3.196 3.193   values are down -0.003 values are up 0.077
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.310 3.309 3.324   values are up 0.015 values are up 0.092
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.995 2.991 2.998   values are up 0.007 values are up 0.059
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.993 2.984 2.993   values are up 0.009 values are up 0.036
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.876 2.872 2.879   values are up 0.007 values are up 0.035
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 2.974 3.007 3.028   values are up 0.021 values are down -0.058
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.526 3.541 3.591   values are up 0.050 values are up 0.091
    West Coast less California 3.156 3.153 3.189   values are up 0.036 values are down -0.037
    California 3.819 3.849 3.910   values are up 0.061 values are up 0.193
    *prices include all taxes
  • Thu, April 11, 2019 2:36 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Former Siegfried and Roy animal handler interview  
    The Hollywood Reporter featured an article with animal handler/trainer Chris Lawrence this week. Lawrence worked for Siegfried and Roy for many years and was present when one of the tigers injured Roy Horn on stage in 2003. The Tiger and the Tragic Trick: Siegfried & Roy’s animal handler breaks silence on mauling alleges cover-up ( Hollywood Reporter , March 28).

    Pennsylvania state legislator speaks out against circus animals
    State Representative Melissa Shusterman wrote a lengthy editorial in the Allentown Morning Call to promote the introduction of a bill she introduced this week to ban the use of animals in travelling acts, PA HB 996 . Shusterman cites “facts” provided by the Performing Animal Welfare Society and she also has the support of Animal Defenders International (see press release from ADI ). It's time to stop abusing wild animals for our entertainment ( Morning Call , April 1).

    Furriers take a stand against NYC anti-fur ordinance
    Dozens of New York CIty fur industry workers staged a protest at City Hall to oppose a 
    proposed city-wide ban on the sale of fur apparel and accessories. The furriers pointed out that 98 percent of the industry business owners said they would move out of New York City if the ban were to go into effect, taking 1,100 jobs, and costing New York City $3.3 billion in revenue in the next ten years. ‘Save Our Jobs’: Furriers protest against proposed ban (CBS New York, March 28).

    Pending Legislation

  • Tue, April 09, 2019 11:14 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    New Officers, and Board Members Appointed

    NASHVILLE, TN - The AIMS International Board of Directors is pleased to announce that effective April 1Franceen Gonzales, EVP business development-the Americas, for WhiteWater, has become president of the AIMS board of directors. She replaces Tim Viox who served as board president for the past two years. The board has also appointed Tony Claassen, rides maintenance compliance officer at Herschend Family Entertainment, as vice president and, George Tso, engineering executive director, Ocean Park, Hong Kong as secretaryLinda Freeman, Rockwell Automation, remains treasurer.

    In addition, three new board directors take office after having been elected at the annual membership meeting this past January.

    • Monty Jasper, corporate vice-president of safety and engineering for the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.  He is a registered professional engineer with experience in operations, maintenance, construction, safety and engineering and holds Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Mechanical Engineering.  Jasper has worked 46 years in the amusement industry with both Six Flags and Cedar Fair and is a member of the Ohio Amusement Ride Advisory Board and the ASTM Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices.  He also serves on the AIMS Education Committee.
    • Dr. Kathryn Woodcock, CCPE ICAE PEng, a Professor at Ryerson University in Toronto involved in unique extracurricular training, research, and knowledge of mobilization activities focused on human factors of amusement rides and attractions pertaining to guests, operators, and inspectors. Dr. Woodcock is also a member of TEA, ASTM Committee F24, Ontario TSSA Amusement Devices Advisory Council, Global Safety Committee of IAAPA, IAAPA Foundation Academic Advisory Council, and Board of Directors of the Canadian National Exhibition.
    • David Bromilow, Global Director of Parks and Attractions, Mobaro Park. Bromilow has worked for more than 40 years in the amusement industry, beginning as an apprentice engineer at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. He has worked as an independent amusement Industry consultant worldwide, at AON / SLE Insurance Group as technical risk control manager and as general manager park operations, at Drayton Manor. He is chairman of the IAAPA EMEA Safety Committee and serves on the IAAPA Global Safety Committee.

    About AIMS International
    AIMS International is a non-profit 501(c)(6) association dedicated to improving amusement Industry safety through leadership in education. AIMS International provides training classes and certification for ride inspectors, operations, aquatics and maintenance personnel through its annual Safety Seminar and at other venues throughout the year. The next AIMS Safety Seminar will be held in Galveston, Texas, January 12-17, 2020. 
    AIMS also serves to inform its members on legislative and other issues relating to the amusement industry and presents the annual AIMS International Safety Award recognizing a person or organization that has made a significant impact or contribution in improving safety in the amusement industry
  • Thu, April 04, 2019 5:34 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Even Guy and Charlene Leavitt of Ray Cammack Shows marveled at the fact that the Feb. 25-March 17 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo drew a whopping attendance of 2,506,263, despite plenty of bad weather that included 10 days of rain and two with below freezing temperatures.

    “We were rained out on the second Wednesday, which was the biggest day we had last year. It would have been ridiculous if we had two weeks of Spring Break, instead of one. That will change for the good next year when we don't open until March 3,” said Guy.

    Dates for 2020 are March 3-22, and for 2021, March 2-21. The show debuted its new Titan ride from Fabbri of Italy. “It's the only one of its kind in the U. S. It is 17 stories tall, and travels at 60 miles an hour. The crowds loved it,” said Leavitt, adding that the Titan weighs 200,000 pounds, is portable, and moves on three heavy duty trucks. “Joel Cowley (president and CEO of the event) rode it six times on opening day. I got on it once with him,” said Guy, noting, “He does something like that every year.”

    Another new ride, the Ice Jet, proved to be the third most popular, behind the La Grande R50XL, which is the tallest portable Wheel in North America, and the Dopplemeyer Sky Ride.

    Booked in with RCS were Scott MacNeill of Deggeller Attractions with a Looping Roller Coaster, Andy Schoendienst of Luehrs Ideal Rides, with a couple rides and an ice cream stand, and show regulars Ernie and Jim Bishop, who have been an integral part of the carnival since 1980.

    The top grossing food stands were the Big Barbecue of Shawn and Don McKinney and their cousin, Billy, and Dominic Palmieri's Midway Gourmet. Palmieri also garnered a lot of television exposure, as he appeared regularly on various networks. I asked about longtime executive Cliff Kunkle and found out he is retired and living in Prescott, Arizona. Annie Kastl is on the executive staff and is very important in the implementation of the H-2B Visa program, and her husband, Joe Kastl, had a cookie stand, and he is in charge of moving the Giant Wheel.

    Managing the show's fantastic games operation are the same Annie Kastl and Steve Charleston. Leavitt stated, “As everybody knows, we have a very strong Sunday School operation, and we set up 62 games. We move 70 truckloads loaded with prizes. Some shows don't do that much in a lifetime. My parents had a 12-ride carnival. We had 82 rides set up in Houston.”

    Asked if he took time off to see the George Strait concert, which drew a record 80,108 spectators, Leavitt said he did not, but Charlene purchased 16 tickets and raffled them off to employees and staff. Appearing with Strait were Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen. The attendance broke the record Strait had set in his last appearance at the event seven years ago. Strait is still managed by Erv Woolsey, who is also one of his best friends. I remember when Buddy Lee brought Strait to Nashville and urged me to go and watch him in a performance at the Radisson Hotel. He was good, but we had no inkling he would become the star he turned out to be. Woolsey had a keen eye for talent and was working for Buddy Lee Attractions at the time. If you Google George Strait's manager, you will hear, “E. R. V.” (not Erv) Woolsey, his longtime friend and manager. Back then we always knew when Woolsey was at Johnny Hobbs' Nashville Palace. He would have the only Rolls Royce in the parking lot.

    I've told the story before, but it's worth repeating. Of Strait's 22 performances at the Houston Rodeo, the first almost didn't happen. I was attending the Midwest Fair Managers convention in Houston when Dan Gattis, then president and CEO of the Livestock Show, interrupted and asked for help.

    Gattis, now deceased, had received word that due to illness, Eddie Rabbit had to cancel his show that was scheduled that evening. Tony Conway, who later became president of Buddy Lee Attractions, and is now managing Alabama, left the room and made a phone call to Strait. He got on his own plane, flew to Houston and performed what turned out to be his first of 30 sellouts in 22 years there. Ironically, it also transpired that the fathers of Strait and Gattis had been college roommates. Eddie Who?

    Both Woolsey and Strait are great guys. One night while we were partying in Los Angeles prior to an awards show, Hobbs and I were with Bob Smith, also now deceased, who was vice president of the Los Angeles Dodgers for about 35 years. I figured Smith might want to book Strait into the stadium some time, and Strait might want to play there, so took I a picture of both and used it in AB.

    On what was the busiest Saturday at Houston this year, RCS conducted a Jamboree fundraiser for OABA’s H-2B initiatives that raised more than $50,000. Conducting it were OABA’s Second Vice Chair, Andy Deggeller of Deggeller Attractions, and another OABA Director and food concessionaire, Nate Janousek of Fun Biz Concessions. A great effort by all to help the seasonal labor crisis. 

    Of the 39 food stands set up, Vivian Leavitt, Guy's sister-in-law, had the cookhouse which not only catered to show workers, but 4-H exhibitors and others. Mark Leavitt, Vivian's husband, is the show's director of operations. “We're blessed to have a lot of family involved in our operations,” said Guy. He and Charlene have six children, 26 grandchildren, three great grandchildren, “and one on call.”

    Upcoming is the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, featuring top name talent, where the R50XL La Grande Wheel will be set up April 12-14, and April 19-21. The show plays the 46th annual Spring Fling, largest student run event involving a carnival in the nation, April 12-14 at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the Pima County Fair, Tucson, April 18-28, where Jon Baker is executive director. The talent lineup there includes Shaggy, Seether, Carly Pearce, Frankie Ballard, Rich The Kid, Mark Farner's American Band, MJ Live, Newsboys, TLC, P.O.D., Buckcherry, Adelitas Way, Chris Janson, and Dia de la Banda.

    I received word the other day that Tommy LaMotta, a tremendous games concessionaire, artist, and good guy, passed away. I first met Tommy when he and his brother, Joe, who was president of the Gibtown Club in 1982, and their brother-in-law, Gaspare Mistretta, were booked with Rod Link Shows. During the trade show, he would take my camera, snap pictures of beautiful women and tell them we were going to put their pictures in an international publication (Amusement Business) and make them stars. Thaxter Trafton, manager of the Arizona State Fair, Phoenix, at the time, always joined in the fun.

    At some point later, LaMotta asked if I could help get him booked into Phoenix. Through the efforts of Buddy Lee and myself, we convinced Trafton we would be doing a favor for both, since LaMotta had a first-class operation. Lo and behold, Tommy didn't show up, for whatever reason. We went through the process again the next year and Trafton reluctantly booked him. It worked out well for both.

    A New Yorker from birth, Tommy was born with an affliction that caused him to always be moving his head. It never slowed him down, nor took away from his incredible talent. He booked with Ray Cammack Shows and others, and independently, with his son-in-law, Michael Winchester, running his Diversified Amusements. The last time I saw Tommy was at the Minnesota State Fair. He was on a golf cart. When he saw me, he smiled and invited me to dinner. I wish I had gone, but I didn't.

    Sid Karmia, owner of The Toy Factory, San Antonio, was the one who sent me an e-mail on March 28, stating, “The amusement industry lost one of the greatest concessionaires of all time yesterday morning. Tommy LaMotta passed away.” Anybody who knew Tommy will agree with what Sid said.

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

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

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