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  • Thu, February 21, 2019 8:10 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Christine and I watched a Tribute to Elvis Presley program on television Sunday night, and every artist on the bill tried really hard and did superb jobs, but what the entire event reiterated for me is that Elvis was, and still is The King, and no imitator has ever come close, one reason being, he didn't have to try.

    Longtime members of the Showmen's League of America have fond memories of meeting Colonel Tom Parker and Al Dvorin, who attended the annual meetings in Las Vegas for many years. Parker, who managed Hank Snow and Eddy Arnold before taking over Presley's career, of course, started in the carnival business, and he never loosened his ties to the trade. He donated $500 at every meeting. I once asked Dvorin what his role had been, and he surprised me when he said “I'm the guy who said after every show that “Elvis Has Left The Building.” How about making a career out of something like that!

    Ironically, I spent plenty of time with Parker, snapping his picture with hundreds of SLA members over the years, but I never met Elvis, or saw any of his performances. We were both in the Army at the same time and each night after a day of basic training at Fort Dix, N. J., I would go to the PX for a soft drink and listen to “You Ain't Nothin’ But A Hound Dog” that seemed to be the only song on the jukebox.

    There were many great stories about Elvis and the Colonel, but one of my favorites involved my friends J. Bruce McKinney, Paul Serff, John Zerbe, Franklin Shearer, Jack Silar, and Bob Payne at Hershey Park, Hershey, Pa. They had tried for years to book Presley and finally, the colonel was on the phone. Payne said try to get him for two nights and McKinney, who had graduated from the Milton Hershey School for Boys to become president and CEO of Hershey Entertainment Co., tried to shush him. “We booked the show, sold the tickets, and never got to see him,” recalls McKinney. “The people who purchased those tickets are holding on to them.” Presley passed away before he got to Hershey. It was to be the next date on his tour.

    Instead of doing our usual phone interview after the fair ended, Rick Vymlatil, president and CEO of the South Florida Fair, West Palm Beach, sent me the same information he provided in detail to Carnival Warehouse. This was his last fair as he is retiring and being replaced by Vicki Chouris, who had been the fair's chief operating officer. Rick, one of the best, will be missed. He thanked me for including him in my columns over the many years we have come to know each other.

    Attendance was 359,020, down from 427,005 in 2018. “The weather really hurt us. On the middle Sunday, when the forecast was so negative, we decided not to open at all.” Vymlatil added record ride revenues and per caps records for Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows were recorded on 11 of 16 days. “At the gate, we had record revenues on three days, including our first Tuesday, which was a $2 Tuesday.”

    Admission revenue was $2,563,000. Ride revenue was $3.9 million, and food gross was estimated at $4.8 million. The item that garnered the most publicity was a Dilly Dilly Dog, which was a hot dog inserted into a dill pickle and fried in corn dog batter. “It was featured at one of Louie Pacifico's Meatball Factory Corn Dog stands, and it was really good.”

    Entertainment included Building 429, Frankie Ballard, Jordan Davis, Pat Travers Band and The Outlaws, Charlie Aponte and The Elvis Extravaganza. Also, the XPOGO Stunt Team, Dennis Lee, Justino and Daniel Zoppe's Illusions Beyond, Matt's Family Jam, Renata, Zaji Acrobats of China, Tyzen's Comedy Hypnotist Show, Hambone Express 3 Racing Pigs, Hitchiti Dancers, and Ron Davis.

    In conclusion, Vymlatil said, ”Judging by our per cap spending results, I'd have to say that our area has recovered greatly since the recession. The public is not backing off spending their discretionary income on events like the South Florida Fair or other special events in this area. I believe this bodes well for all of us in this business as we move into the spring of 2019.” That's what people want to hear.

    From West Palm Beach, Wade Shows moved into the Florida State Fair, Tampa, which ended Monday.

    I asked Dave Cavallaro, a veteran exhibitor at the trade show of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton, Fla., how he did this year. Besides selling cheese curds at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, where he does booming business, Cavallaro sells lemonade stands, his main concern in Gibtown, besides soaking up the sun instead of enduring Minnesota’s deep freeze.

    I'm pausing here because I feel as though I just received a reprieve from either the governor of Tennessee, Minnesota, Florida, or Pennsylvania. It doesn't matter which one. Thank God, the warden, Christine, was here to accept the call. To explain what I say in jest involves a serious concern. I learned recently from a dermatologist that two ugly marks on my forehead are malignant, and for the second time in my life, I have cancer. Luckily, I came through the first which involved the rectum. Anyway, the dermatologist, seemed very concerned, stating it could kill me, and he sent me to the oncologist. She, in turn, referred me to this 62-year-old female surgeon. It has been an elephant in the room as we anxiously awaited the phone to ring to find out how we'll proceed. The answer is I have a 3 p.m. appointment next Monday, and surgery will probably occur within a week or two after that. I have kidded my wife, four children, and friends that I have time for a lot more last meals. It will be pork chops, corn on the cob, baked potato, ice cold Pepsi Cola, and Breyer's ice cream tonight.

    Back to Cavallaro, who knew about this and said, “Hope all is well with you, especially after your heart Ablation procedure. If I saw you, I was going to ask about that because 22 years ago I had the same thing done. It was the best thing I ever did, and I haven't had a problem since. You're going to be fine with this new challenge. We missed you and Christine at the trade show.”

    Continuing, he said, “It was my best show in years, maybe ever! I know people may find that difficult to understand because I would say the traffic seemed to be slightly off from last year. But the guests I spoke to were buying and optimistic about the upcoming season. Obviously, the major topic of discussion was the H-2B seasonal, foreign labor situation. The uncertainty of their work force is frustrating and undoubtedly limits future purchasing plans.”

    Cavallaro conceded that due to his bigger than life, Lemonade Stand product, at $35,000, being quite a bit less than the average concession trailer, “a purchase from me isn't that much of a gamble. I'm also noticing a new generation of buyers who are discovering my product. Many have realized that when you FEATURE the lemonade concession in a standalone unit such as mine, the sales really validate the decision.

    “We sold the unit we brought down and two more since returning to the Minnesota tundra. We need to sell these lemonade stands fast this time of year in Minnesota. Lemonade doesn't fare well in 50 below zero actual temperatures as we experienced the week prior to the show.” Try hot chocolate, Dave.

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 319-1258.
    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Wed, February 13, 2019 2:36 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    It’s auto show season and next up is the Chicago Auto Show. #CAS19 hadn’t even started yet when the news started about the debut of the 2020 Chevy Silverado HD that can tow 35,500 pounds. Powered by the Duramax diesel engine that at 910 pound-feet of torque makes it the strongest pickup you can buy...for now, as the pickup truck wars wage on.

  • Wed, February 13, 2019 1:03 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    News from Gosetto, American Earth Anchors, and the SLA

    Thursday, day three of the annual IISF trade show, saw light crowds despite beautiful sunny weather for the third day in a row.  Many vendors claimed traffic was slow but several new sales were reported.  Len Soled said he sold an Air Show ride to Skelly's Amusements and the company's name was hung on the fence of their new purchase.  More>>>

  • Wed, February 13, 2019 12:18 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    You couldn't have asked for better weather during the 2019 IISF Trade Show.  Every day was sunny, warm, but not too hot, and there was certainly plenty to see and do at the show.  More>>>>

  • Thu, January 31, 2019 7:13 PM | Anonymous

    OABA’s Hall of Fame and Industry Pioneer Inductions for 2019
    Please join us for a Champagne Reception for Inductees and families on Wednesday, February 6, at 4:15 PM at the IISA Museum, Second Floor
    This year’s recipient for the esteemed honor, induction into the OABA Hall of Fame, will be Michael Wood, OABA Trustee 2015, owner of Wood Entertainment Co. 
    Also, being honored will be Bill Dillard, OABA Trustee 1993, owner of Bill Dillard Expositions (deceased), will be celebrated for his industry and OABA accomplishments. Accepting this honor on behalf of this father, will be Bill Dillard, Jr.
    In addition, this year’s esteemed OABA Industry Pioneer recognition will be awarded to Stephen Swika, Jr. (deceased), owner of S & S Amusements.  His wife, Jackie, also an OABA Trustee 2002 and Hall of Fame recipient in 2007, (deceased), received this recognition, with her husband, Stephen, accepting for her.  Stephen’s son, Stephen Swika, III, will be presented this honor, on behalf of his father.   
    Formal inductions will take place on Friday evening, February 8, at the Sheraton Tampa Brandon hotel, starting at 6 PM, in the Ballroom.   

  • Thu, January 31, 2019 7:10 PM | Anonymous

    Sponsored by the
    New Jersey Amusement Association
    Presented by
    11th Annual East Coast / Mid-Atlantic
    Regionalized NAARSO Outreach Safety School
    February 19th - 21st, 2019
    Golden Nugget, Atlantic City, NJ
    NAARSO Registration Form

  • Thu, January 31, 2019 6:53 PM | Anonymous

    Animal Issues Legislative Update
    Hi everyone - this week's animal issues legislative update is attached; please see the Pending Legislation chart for new activity, including the introduction of the Working Animal Protection Act in Missouri.

    Also, a quick update on CT HB 5248 (to prohibit performing animals) -- I checked the Environment Committee's meeting calendar, and the bill has not appeared on the Committee agenda yet. There was a meeting scheduled yesterday, but the bill was not included, and there are no further meetings or hearings posted for January. I will keep monitoring. In the meantime, listed below is the contact information for the Environment Committee members; please feel free to copy and paste to share with your members and contacts to send messages of opposition to this HB 5248.  Thank you! [read more]

    Mary Lou Kelly

  • Wed, January 30, 2019 7:48 PM | Anonymous

    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices* 
     (dollars per gallon)

              Change from
      01/14/19 01/21/19 01/28/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 2.976 2.965 2.965   no change 0.000 values are down -0.105
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.049 3.037 3.050   values are up 0.013 values are down -0.062
    New England (PADD1A) 3.208 3.191 3.188   values are down -0.003 values are up 0.028
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.217 3.215 3.237   values are up 0.022 values are down -0.069
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.903 2.884 2.893   values are up 0.009 values are down -0.075
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.823 2.807 2.806   values are down -0.001 values are down -0.224
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.788 2.790 2.789   values are down -0.001 values are down -0.079
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 2.987 2.944 2.911   values are down -0.033 values are down -0.056
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.471 3.463 3.448   values are down -0.015 values are up 0.014
    West Coast less California 3.130 3.115 3.099   values are down -0.016 values are down -0.021
    California 3.742 3.739 3.726   values are down -0.013 values are up 0.043
    *prices include all taxes

    * information form www.eia.org

  • Thu, January 24, 2019 8:40 PM | Anonymous

    On The Earie        
    By Tom Powell, OABA News Ambassador

    When I spoke to brothers-in-laws Michael Skelly and Tom O'Connor of Skelly's Amusements on Jan. 24, they were headed to the Pennsylvania fair convention in [read more]

  • Thu, January 24, 2019 8:26 PM | Anonymous

    The New Jersey Amusement Association  
    Proudly Presents
    The 24th Annual East Coast
    Gift & Variety Show 2019
    Golden Nugget, Atlantic City, NJ 
    Wednesday, February 20th
    Thursday, February 21st
    (Exhibitor Setup - Tuesday, February 19th)
    The Annual East Coast Gift & Variety Show is
    "The Trade Show to Keep You Connected to the Amusement Industry in the Tri-State Area" 

    {read more}

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