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  • Thu, August 01, 2019 2:48 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)


    The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act passed the House by 333 to 96 in a bipartisan vote. It is a federal bill that will have a huge impact on the walking horse industry.

    The state of New Hampshire passed two animal related laws, HB 459 and HB 605, this past week. Please read more about the details of those laws here as they include animal ownership changes, paying for care after animal confiscation, and animal fighting paraphernalia. These were both HSUS backed bills.

    More news and updates here >>>

  • Thu, August 01, 2019 2:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Butler Amusements posted a great run at the July 12-28 California Exposition and State Fair, where attendance of 601,761 was five per cent higher than the 2018 total 572,250, but lower than 2017's 636,628, according to Rick Pickering, general manager and chief executive officer.

    An all new food Festival Pass helped the fair record strong food, beverage and amusement ride sales, according to Margaret Mohr, deputy general manager of business development and marketing. The pass allowed attendees one-of-a-kind entrees and special desserts from 30 vendors at a low price of $28. If purchased separately, officials estimated that each food item would cost in the range of $10 each.

    Food sales from the Food Festival Pass generated approximately $300,000 in revenues alone.

    Willie Madaus, owner of County Fair Cinnamon Rolls, Oakhurst, California, was quoted as saying the pass was popular every day of the fair. Madaus's Bacon & Pecan Cinnamon Roll won Best of Show in the Food Festival Competition. “We had our highest grossing Saturday ever and were up more than 20 per cent this year,” said Madaus. Barbecue sales hit an all-time high with $1.3 million in gross sales. Overall, the total for food and beverage sales was $8.5 million.

    Butler, led by OABA Director Lance Moyer, who is the company's executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Sean Butler, son of the late Earl (Butch) Butler, grossed more than $500,000 on the closing Saturday, and $400,000 on the final Sunday. More than 100,000 people rode the Monorail and Skyride. Butler came to Sacramento from the Alameda County Fair, Pleasanton, and moved from Sacramento to the Sonoma County Fair, Santa Rosa, Aug. 1-11.

    The107th annual Alameda Fair, held June 14-July 7, where Jerome Hogan is CEO, drew attendance of 454,276, which was up by 7.3 per cent over the 2018 total. Butler Amusements had a good run on the midway, and live horse racing returned with attendance of 49,483 for the 15-day meet. Marketing Manager Angel Moore noted that corn dog sales of 35,320 represented an increase of 11.8 per cent over last year. Other increases were 12.3 per cent for funnel cakes; 14.8 per cent for candy apples; and 19.1 per cent for deep fried Twinkies.

    Entertainment included WAR, Ashanti, Trace Adkins, Gin Blossoms, Lifehouse, Sheila E, Loverboy, Roots & Boots Tour, with Sammy Kershaw, Collin Raye, and Aaron Tippin, Aly & AJ, BB King Blues Band, featuring The Voice's Michael Lee and Tommy Castro & The Painkillers-Killin It Live, Stellar Tribute Bands Earth to Mars for Bruno Mars, Kiss Revisited, James Garner's Tribute to Johnny Cash, Aja Vu for Steely Dan, and Vince Neil of Motley Crue.

    The Butler Unit, led by Mick Brajevich, a former OABA director, who is the company's president and chief executive officer, had terrific runs at the July 3-7 Marin County Fair, San Rafael, California, and the 161st annual Washington County Fair, Hillsboro, California, July 23-28. It then traveled 673.3 miles to play the Aug. 1-11 Clark County Fair, Ridgefield, Washington. Ridgefield talent includes Carly Pierce, with Matt Stell, KC and The Sunshine Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Randy Houser.

    After taking a hit in 2018, attendance at Marin County rebounded with the Fourth of July that drew 31,855, the second highest one day crowd in 31 years. A total of 116,639 attended this year's fair, the last for Charlie Barboni, longtime manager, who is retiring this year. Attendance last year was 104,942. Parking receipts were $231,700, compared to $231,415 last year.

    Libby Garrison, a fair spokeswoman, said the free shuttle helped 3,224 save on parking costs, with a SMART train transporting 10,000 to and from the fair. Entertainment included Dwight Yoakam, The Distractions, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Abba The Concert, Steel Pulse, Cheap Trick, and Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea, plus fireworks, and The Great American Petting Zoo.

    This year's Over the Moon theme, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, was the No. 1 factor that drove up attendance and revenue, said Garrison. Gate revenue was $1.51 million, a 4.3 per cent increase over that of 2018. Food and beverage receipts were $1.4 million, compared to $1.3 million last year. Auditors counted sales of 6,500 corn dogs, 5,200 orders of lobster fries, and 2,380 pineapple teriyaki bowls, among other items.

    Contacted on a set up day at Ridgefield, Brajevich, who served 11 years on the OABA board, said, “We had a very good week at Hillsboro after moving there from the Stanislaus County Fair, Turlock. All units have had a great summer. I believe we broke records everywhere we've played since the beginning of June. The grosses have been great, and we've had very good weather. We had a little extreme heat at the end in Sacramento, but other than that, no complaints.”

    Brajevich, who like Moyer, is a son-in-law of Butch Butler, said the show has added a new Himalaya ride from Wisdom for this season, which will be delivered soon. “We've also purchased a half dozen new trucks, a generator from Gull Wing, and a couple bunkhouses from Uni-Glide.”

    Butler employs approximately 250 foreign workers through the H-2B Visa program. “We've been doing that for 20 years, and since we virtually operate year round, we always obtain them in a timely manner.” New to the show's solid route this year is the Tehama District Fair, Red Bluff, California.

    The entertainment lineup for the Toyota Concert Series in Sacramento included Plain White T's, Queen Nation, TLC, Def Leppard Tribute, Clay Walker, The Marshall Tucker Band, Petty and the Heartshakers, Sean Kingston, Joe Nichols, Mariachi Vargas, The Boys of Summer, featuring the music of The Eagles; 38 Special,  We Are Messengers, California Surf, Inc., Tony! Toni! Tone!, Journey Revisited, and Martina McBride.

    Larry Sivori of Sivori Catering, Louisville, Kentucky, says his dad, Edgar, who died June 16 at the age of 88, taught him everything about their business that has been around since 1964.

    “Before that, Dad was at Miles Park, the old Kentucky State Fair, before it moved to its current location in 1956. He purchased three cookhouses from Dale and Janelle Paisley. He had been grade school and high school buddies with the late Gene O'Brien, who had his own Irish O'Brien's cookhouse and food operation, with his wife, Sandi. Dad said to be successful you need to treat everybody with respect.”

    Gene O'Brien was the first president of the National Independent Concessionaires Association. Larry Sivori was its fifth president, and is still involved in the organization, as is Sandi. Edgar was employed as a plumber before he got into the food business in a large way and earned the title of Midway Man.

    The Sivoris have more than a dozen stands at the Kentucky State Fair each year, where they also set up a beer tent. They are the master vendor at the Kentucky Derby Festival and also work Thunder Over Louisville. Florida dates on Sivori's schedule are the Pensacola Interstate Fair, South Florida Fair, West Palm Beach, Martin County, Stuart, and Gator National drag races, Gainesville.

    Other dates include the Heart of Illinois State Fair, Peoria, which went to six days from last year's five, this year; Logan County, Lincoln, Illinois; Alabama National Fair, Montgomery, Alabama, and Southeast Missouri District Fair, Cape Girardeau, plus numerous local picnics and festivals.

    So far, the season has been okay, according to Sivori. Among his specialties at the Kentucky State Fair are tater tots with 15 different toppings, barbecue, corn dogs, pizza, and all the grab items including burgers, hot dogs, and sausages. He relies on Ron Porter of Fare Foods and local vendors for his products. “Ron's dad, Ray, and my dad were friends and my dad had another special friend over the years who was also a friend of yours, Joe Oblander, the Coca-Cola representative,” said Sivori. Oblander was a friend to everybody he knew in the business

    Sivori and his wife, Emily, have been married for 40 years and have two children. Tony, 40, is an oral surgeon, and Aaron, 37 who has a landscaping business. “They both help on weekends at the Kentucky State Fair. For labor, we don't have any foreign employees and rely on many who return from year to year, but a lot of them are getting up in age. We find locals, but it's a struggle,” said Sivori.

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

  • Tue, July 30, 2019 6:15 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    The tragic shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival is sad news for all of us. The festival was, at one time, a member of IAFE. We, along with our friends from the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) are sending prayers and sympathy to all involved. The volunteers and supporters will be hit especially hard by this senseless act of violence.

    With permission, we are sharing the following from Steve Schmader, President & CEO of the IFEA:

    It is with great sadness and sympathies that we let you all know of yesterday's mass shooting during the final day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. At this time there are an estimated 12 people injured and 4 fatalities (including the suspect) after a gunman randomly opened fire on those attending the event. A second suspect is still being investigated. As has become unacceptably too common in our country and around the world, we send our deepest sympathies, prayers and support to all those affected - directly and indirectly - by this horrific incident, through friends, families and loved ones.

    While no different in terms of the tragedy and loss, this scenario is the first at what we would categorize as a 'typical' small(er) town festival/celebration, that a large majority of our industry fits into. It is a category that we would all like to believe is a bit safer and at less risk than the potential larger target events, in bigger cities, with higher media focus surrounding them. It opens up many new and very real considerations that we must now work with our global risk management experts to re-examine and re-address, so that we may maintain the safe havens that we hope all of our events will be for our attendees, volunteers and all stakeholders.

    We are in the midst of the peak of fair season, so it is even more critical that all members review emergency plans, security assessments and risk mitigation strategies. This news story from NBC highlights the vulnerabilities our fairs and events face. The new IAFE website, www.fairsandexpos.com, has resources in the library, as well as at www.fairsandexpos.com/event-security (under the MyIAFE tab), which provides invaluable resources from the US Department of Homeland Security.

    The IAFE works closely with allied organizations such as the IFEA, IAAPA, IAVM, and OABA to learn and share information that is essential to all in the events sector and we will update our members as we identify resources that will help us all provide a safe environment for our guests.

    Marla Calico
    President & CEO
    International Association of Fairs & Expositions

  • Thu, July 25, 2019 3:56 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)


    There have been a number of deaths reported in the horse racing industry. From New York to California, people are scratching their heads trying to figure out what is causing this uptick in racing related deaths. The city of Los Angeles is now considering an all out ban on horse racing. This is an interesting turn of events in a very well established industry that is heavily regulated and monitored for welfare. Keep an eye out on these articles and the developments - there are two federal bills related to horses in congress. Equine enigma: Four horses dead within six days at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack
    Los Angeles to consider banning horse racing  
    30th horse dies at Santa Anita since racetrack’s season started

    Click here for More News & Links

  • Thu, July 25, 2019 1:04 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

       North American Midway Entertainment headed up by Tony Diaz was off to a hot start in Canada, drawing 203,624 at the June 14-23 Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and 1,275,465 at the 107th Annual Calgary, Alberta, Stampede, July 5-14.

    NAME then headed to the 140th annual K-Days, formerly Klondike Days in Edmonton, Alberta, set for July 19-28. “While most people were burning up in the U.S., the temperature here was 57 degrees as we were setting up,” said Diaz. “My Dad (Tony Sr.) used to love to come up here with Royal American and later Bill Dillard Shows. He loved the weather, always calling them mild summers.” 

    Diaz said Calgary closed with a bang with attendance on the last Sunday being 116,683, up over last year’s 113,415. Final attendance last year was 1,271,241. This year's was the second highest attended Calgary Stampede ever, trailing only the 100th anniversary event in 2012.

    Headline entertainers, drawing big crowds in the Saddledome were The Zac Brown Band, Sugarland and Tim McGraw. Acts booked in the Nashville North venue included Kiefer Sutherland, Emerson Drive, Granger Smith, featuring Earl Dibble, Jr., the Recklaws, Tebey, Aaron Goodvin, Chad Brownlee, Jess Moskaluke, Andrew Hyatt, Jay Eagleson and David James. Another big attraction on July 8 was Nik Wallenda, walking on the high wire across the NAME Midway. 

    “We had marginal weather the first weekend in Calgary, but it got better as we went along,” said Diaz. He added that the carnival employed 250 workers, a combination of those from the U.S. and those who were hired in Canada. NAME had 60 rides set up. Bobby and Wendy Hauser’s West Coast Amusements booked in seven rides.  Americans with the show in Canada include Dave and Monica Potopas, Paul and Buni Lombard, Beth Negus Gray and her husband, Rick Gray with food. Potopas and Lombard have games, along with Bobby and Jennifer Miles, and Jeff and Arlene Opdam, representing Bobby and Tony Cassata's Bob's Space Racers.

    After Edmonton, NAME heads to Regina for the July 31-August 4 Queen City Expo and plays the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Exhibition, August 6-11, in conjunction with the Hauser's West Coast Amusements. “When we go to Toronto for the Canadian National Exhibition over Labor Day, (Aug. 16-Sept. 2), it's a trip of 1,605 miles from Regina, so we send half our equipment there early,” said Diaz. He pointed out it's great to work with people such as the Hausers. A super baseball fan, Diaz, lamented the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays play in such an outdated venue. “People in Tampa are never going to go to St. Petersburg.” Being a huge baseball fan myself, I can totally relate.

    Entertainment at Winnipeg included the Winnipeg Symphony, appearing for the first time at the event, Trooper, the Crash Test Dummies, and a new Dinosaur Park according to Jodie Johnson, Communications and Events Director. Johnson, who has been Assistant to Gary Roberson at Winnipeg for 11 years, said she worked at the Calgary Stampede for 15 years before that. “It was a great year for us and NAME,” said Johnson.

    Bill and Mary Johnson of A Fantasy Amusements called to tell me they had a successful OABA Jamboree at the July 15-22 Kane County Fair, St. Charles, Illinois. Bill said the fair was kind enough to provide the beer and ice, and Richey and Judy George took care of the food. “Our show only plays three fairs, but they're all in a row. We're used to festivals where we have better hours.” The other fairs, also in Illinois, are DuPage County, Wheaton, July 24-28, and McLean County, Bloomington, July 31-Aug. 4. Bill, a big Chicago Black Hawk hockey fan, had e-mailed me earlier, saying, “I hope you're feeling better. Tell Joe West (my good friend who is a Major League Baseball umpire) to go easy on Joe Madden (Chicago Cubs Manager). He kicked him out again the other day. At least the Cubs won the game. They have been having troubles lately.” Ironically, West, who was heading to work a game in Seattle, stopped off at John A's Restaurant and Bar in Nashville and called to wish me a Happy 86th Birthday on July 18th.  Earlier this year, I had told West that Madden's mother, who is about my age, is still working as a waitress at a diner in Hazleton, PA, near my hometown of Scranton. Cowboy Joe said he couldn't wait to get on him about that, suggesting a lack of interest in helping to support his mom, even though she has made it abundantly clear in local newspaper articles that she loves her job and will never quit. In jest, however, West may have needled Madden again, after the heave ho.

    Carey Harveycutter, Director of Tourism and General Manager for the Salem, Virginia, Civic Center, sent me his annual report on this year's July 3-14 fair. “As you know, we are a free gate fair, but attendance was level with last year when we had an extra day due to July 4th.  Pre-sale tickets, sold through Kroger, were up 19 percent, and Deggeller Attractions was up four percent. That was amazing because we had some of the worst weather in 32 years at the fair that John Saunders and I created.”

    Once again, proving the value of a free gate, Haveycutter said there was rain on six of the 12 days and extreme heat on the final weekend when temperatures topped 93 degrees each day. “We were fortunate that the patrons came late over the weekend and stayed in the adjoining exhibit hall inside the Civic Center to wait out the rain. We have always been proactive when it comes to the weather. We clear the fairgrounds and shut down the rides when lightning is within eight miles. You just cannot risk the welfare of attendees. Some, of course, do not understand, but safety must be paramount. For the same reason, we contracted with Rick Werble as our ride inspector to be on the grounds from opening to the close of our event.” 

    Entertainment, booked direct, included Glen and Karen Woodey's Menagerie, with a petting zoo and barnyard animal races – pigs, ducks, goats and wiener dogs; Rich and Ellen Knebel's Dairy Farm on Wheels; Jill and Jef Eaton's Kandu Magic Stage, and Deborah Lurie's Butterfly Encounter. Booked via Dave Musselman at Capitol International Productions, Negley, Ohio, were Lawrence Frederick's Disc Connected K-9s and the Team Big Air-Basketball Dunking Show. Todd Bolton of Variety Attractions, Zanesville, Ohio, booked Hilby, the Skinny German Juggle Boy, and Cowboy Circus, with Danny Grant. From Salem, Andy and Jamie Deggeller moved part of the show to the Madison County Fair, Madison, Virginia, and Heidi and Beau Pugh, Kathy and Don Deggeller took the other half to the Cecil County Fair in Elkton, Maryland. 

    Harveycutter sent a personal note stating he and his wife still go out and eat Sunday with Binki Teitlebaum, whose late husband, Bob, worked with me for 15 years as a sportswriter with the Nashville Tennessean. Bob later became Sports Editor of the Salem paper. “Binki sends her regards.  Boy, we have some great memories, don't we?”  You're not kidding.

    The Salem Fair has always been kind of special for Christine and me. For many years on our vacation trip to Scranton, we would stop and visit there.  In the early days, Steve Broetsky, who now owns Frazier Shows, took us around the midway when he was concession manager for Deggeller. We received the same excellent treatment in later years from Dale Negus. They were always very helpful in rounding up people for pictures and stories, especially when I was with Amusement Business.

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

    Have all Great Days and God Bless!

  • Thu, July 18, 2019 12:12 AM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)


    This past Tuesday a previous circus animal ban which had been tabled in March was reintroduced by the mayor of Kingman, AZ. I am happy to report the matter was tabled again with the help of several folks who showed up in opposition. The previous ban was being pushed by Animal Defenders International (ADI) and the mayor has openly showed her support of both them and PeTA.

    The Zerbini Family Circus is currently in Maine. They were supposed to play the town of Rockland however after complaints were made to city council over supposed cruelty to animals, the spot was cancelled. Miraculously, the mayor, selectmen, and recreation director of Thomaston, a neighboring town, caught wind of the issue and offered the circus the chance to entertain their citizens instead. If you are in that part of Maine please go see the show July 24th and 25th. It just goes to show that the circus is indeed not dead and people want to see a good show. Thank you, Thomaston!

    Click here for all news and links.

  • Wed, July 17, 2019 11:06 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    One of the first major fairs of the season, The San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, which operated in three different months from May 31st through July 4th, and where Tim Fennell is CEO and General Manager, drew attendance of 1,531,199, which was down from the 2016 record total of 1,609,481.

     Guy Leavitt, who owns Ray Cammack Shows with his wife, Charlene, had the majority of rides, along with Dave Helm and Sons. The top ten rides included the number one Sky Ride from RCS and the number two Big Wheel. The G-Force from Southern Cross Rides, which is owned by one of the Leavitt's sons-in-law, Ben Pickett was fourth. Fifth was Cammack's Rave Wave, and eighth was their Alien Abduction.

    Others in the top ten were the Crazy Mouse Roller Coaster of Steve Vander Vorste's S&G Entertainment, third. In sixth place was the Fast Trax Slide of Tom and Mary Talley's State Fair Spectaculars. Wood Entertainment, owned by Michael Wood, had his Magnum in seventh place.  Ninth was the Olympic Bobsled of Helm & Sons, and tenth was the German Funhouse of Guy and Susan McDaniel's Fun Attractions. Guy Leavitt was OABA Chairman in 2006 and Wood held that role in 2015. Ray Cammack Shows moved from Del Mar to Costa Mesa for the Orange County Fair, which opened July 12tand will run through August 11.

    When reached for comment, Leavitt said he was pleased with the results at Del Mar, but added he would have been happier if the fair had closed on the Sunday after July 4th. The way it worked out, “We opened and closed a weekend early. Some with the state said the reason was to avoid a tight move to Costa Mesa, but we've had tight moves before.” Leavitt said that Pickett was more or less in charge of the show during the Del Mar run. He is the son of the late, great Tas Pickett, who owned TPA Shows in Australia with his mother, Emily. Ben said his brother, Jamie, is now running that carnival, which is going under the name of FJF Amusements.

     Asked about their season, he said, “It's basically a year-round operation, with four major dates. One was the Royal Easter Show in Sydney and the others are in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne. They travel with between 20-30 rides and games and 15 food stands.” Asked if the labor situation is as big a problem as it is here, Pickett answered, “It is, but there is no H-2B Visa program, which our show in the U.S. benefits from greatly. They are forced to navigate for whatever help they can find. It is a major issue and concern.”

    Pickett pointed out it has been 20 years since he married one of the Leavitt's daughters, Joy, who is Chief Financial Officer of the company. They have six children. Concerning Del Mar, Pickett stated, “I'm extremely happy, even though our crowds were slightly off. For the first time, we took over the majority of the games, and the fair took over our Fun Pass cashless system.”

    He said he had no complaint with the dates this year and said, “Since 2020 is a leap year, we will remain open until July 5th.” Commenting on the Fun Pass use, he added, “We usually go after full contracts, so this was out of our usual line of doing business.”  He said that Annie Kastl, who is a regular with RCS still has her own games operation and booked independently, as did some who had been there before, including John Taggart, Paul Nemeth and Adam West. 

    When Ben and I talked about his Dad, it brought back great memories. He was probably the first Australian to ever be a member of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association. He definitely was the first person from his country to join the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton, Florida, and he never missed any of that group's February Trade Shows. 

    We had a tradition for probably more than ten years where I took a picture of him for Amusement Business with Laura Sedlmayr, whose parents, Carl and Egle, had owned Royal American Shows, and Terri Swyear, of Swyear Amusements. When Tas died, Ben called and wondered whether I had any ideas on how we could pay tribute to his fun-loving, always smiling Dad at the next Trade Show. I suggested he buy a round of drinks for patrons at the bar and we would drink a toast to Tas.


    Before that, I contacted David Starkey, a former President of the Gibtown Club, and more plans were made. One involved a picture of Tas in the corner of the bar with the words “Rest in Peace” under it. I emphasized to Pickett to have it done on a day that Christine and I would surely be there. Never did I dream his Mom and her entire family, including brother Jamie, would show up. It was one of the happiest, classiest and most festive occasions I've ever witnessed at the bar, where the crowd was overflowing. At some point, after four or five rounds, one of the bartenders said she had been told to cut the drinks off. Ben looked aghast and exclaimed, “Me Dad wouldn't like that. Keep it open.” 

    Some other fun facts from the Fair that were provided by Media Contact, Annie Pierce, included the fact Carmel Dyer Pittroff used 11,200 pounds of potatoes and 6,720 pints of oil to deep fry her Australian Battered Potatoes. They were covered in 192 gallons of Ranch dressing, 40 cases of cheese sauce, 160 pounds of bacon and 120 pounds of sour cream. Carmel's husband, Fred Pittroff, operates the Giant Slide at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, where Jerry Hammer is General Manager.  Biggy's Meat Market, operated by Dominick Palmieri, another Leavitt son-in-law, sold nearly 3,000 pounds of Big Ribs. Brett Enright's Juicy's sold an estimated 22,000 orders of turkey leg tacos, and Pignotti's Gourmet Italian Stand brought back their highly acclaimed spaghetti donuts and sold more than 1,400.

    A belated Happy Birthday to Gary Magyoran, Concession Manager for Rich Wyatt's Unit of North American Midway Entertainment, who celebrated the event July 10 at Frontier Days in Arlington Heights, Illinois, with Lauri, whom he has been with for 21 years. “I call her my Buffalo Girl because I took her out of Buffalo.” They met when Magyoran was with David Robb's Fun City Shows. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, now 65, he has been in the business 45 years, starting with Hal Eifort's Unit of Floyd Gooding's Million Dollar Midway. Before joining NAME, Magyoran was with Gene Chaffee's Amusements of Buffalo.

    If you've never met Gary, you should. He's a Class Act. When I tried to give him a compliment, he said, “I try to treat people the way I like to be treated.” He said his mentors have included his former father-in-law, Neil Carlin and NAME's Jeff Blomsness. I broke out in laughter after asking him if he preferred working with rides or games. He answered swiftly, “I never moved no iron. I'm blessed to be in this business. It's a great chance to travel and meet different people.” Magyoran and Carl Snoddy have most of the games on Wyatt's Unit. 

    Speaking of birthdays, I'll be celebrating (not like I did when I was 20 or 30) my 86th on Thursday, July 18. My 85th was a big one, staged on a huge scale at the local Knights of Columbus Club by my beautiful wife, Christine, and four wonderful children, Julia Mulherin, who came in from Yorktown, Virginia, Alice Powell Stanley, who is again taking dictation for this column because of my gout, Tommy, who is a nurse practitioner in Minneapolis, and Kevin Powell, a mechanical engineer who lives in Nashville. Guests included Gary McNeil, one of the great Balloon Peddlers, Dennis Carollo, who owns an Iron Mine Attraction in Iron Mountain, Michigan, Bob Skoney, Manager of Municipal Auditorium and about 100 other friends and family. I'm hoping it's a lot more low key this year, and if Christine and the kids want to repeat the efforts they extended for my 85th, I urge them to wait till I'm 100!! I'll drink to that.

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

    Have all great days and God Bless.

  • Thu, July 11, 2019 6:25 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)


    Fur flies as California moves closer to a statewide ban

    CA AB 44 prohibits the sale and manufacturing of fur products.

    Animal protection groups applaud Senate bill to ban horse slaughter

    US HR 875 is a bill that aims to prevent human health threats posed by the consumption of equines raised in the United States. However upon further inspection it is a result of when horse slaughter houses were removed from the United States and horses began to be shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.  This falls out of USDA jurisdiction. Some owners have dumped their horses in the West among the wild horses because they no longer had access to slaughterhouses; thus creating an overpopulation problem with wild horses with the added complication that they are now overgrazing their habitat. I implore you to read up more about this topic, as it is a hot button issue for Americans who do not wish to consume horse meat.


    The Cavalry Group: Defending the basic right to own animals

    Anonymous For the Voiceless: Post about Service Animals

    Wild animals in circuses to be banned in Wales under new law

    Commentary: Tips for Handling Animal Activists

    ‘Free Willy’ law spotlights contradictions in how Canadians see animal rights

    More Information and links here>>>

  • Thu, July 11, 2019 12:01 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    In last week's column, I used that old cliché of the fact that no matter who is right or wrong, you simply can't beat City Hall, but a friend of mine whom I've known since we were both in diapers in Scranton, Pa., Bob Regan, who now resides in Mechanicsburg, Pa., with his wife, Pat, called me out on that.

    No sooner than the ink had literally dried, which it did during many years as a member of The Fourth Estate, a vernacular term for members of the Press, Regan sent an email that stated, “Tom, you can't fight City Hall??? Sometimes you can. The mayor of our beloved hometown of Scranton resigned a few days ago. The Feds caught him in a pay-to-play scheme that apparently started as soon as he took office. Ah, the politicians 'keep on keepin on.'”

    Mike Heffron, retired manager of the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, would often refer to me, lovingly, I'm presuming, as an ink-stained wretch during Midwest Fair Manager Association meetings. What Regan didn't say was that Bill Courtright is the third current or former Mayor from Eastern Pennsylvania to plead guilty to be convicted of federal charges in the last 17 months. He joins the Mayor of Allentown and the former Mayor of Reading. Growing up, we didn't have that problem, as Jim Hanlon, known as the Friendly Mayor, lived a block away from me and on the same street with Regan, whose father, Frank, was a funeral director. 

    When we wanted bats or balls, we simply knocked on his door and asked him for them. The Spoils System was working well in those days, and if you were raised in the section of Bellevue where Regan and I were, you could easily get a job as a fireman, policeman or garbage collector. One of my best recollections of Mayor Hanlon is on one election day when he asked if I needed a ride to the University of Scranton where I was attending as a freshman. I said I did and he told me to hop in.

    On the way with only him, his chauffeur and me in the limousine, he stated “They've been trying to get something on me for 20 years (he was elected for five full terms), but they're never going to get anything. Do you know why?” Without me having time to answer, he said “Because there's nothing to get.” His influence was so great that when his right hand man, Puddy Keegan, slipped the answers to the fireman's test to a friend named Louie Sasso and he failed, Hanlon still got him the job. 

    Times have changed, but it was a big Fourth of July weekend for old friends Billy and Sue Clark, former owners of Smokey Mountain Amusements. Billy, who is the President of the Shriner's Club in Robbinsville, North Carolina, said he helped raise $11,000 for the Shriners’ crippled children's hospitals from the raffle of a four-wheeler. “We got $14,000 last year when we gave away a lawnmower,” said Clark who is enjoying retirement. 

    Speaking of former employees, Brian (Beaver) Bitner, who was general manager, and Katie Wilson, office manager, who bought the show five years ago, he said “They've been doing great. They have never missed a payment and eight more payments and it's theirs.” Clark said he and Sue, who worked hard for most of their lives, are really taking advantage of the time off. He said they have been to the Holy Land three times and are going back for a fourth, October 30 through November 10. “We've been to Austria, Hungary, Germany, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Puerto Rico and some other small islands. We want to come back and visit with you and Christine again in Nashville. We hate that we didn't get to see John Hobbs again before he passed away.” The Clarks will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary October 1. 

    Before buying Smokey Mountain Amusements with major help from the late David Smith of Allied Specialty Insurance, to whom Clark always gave credit, he spent time with Sheila and Jon Stine on Stine Amusements, Reithoffer Shows, Bob Childress Amusements, Charles Panacek's Belle City Amusements, and he was chief electrician for five years for James E. Strates Shows. Clark actually started off as a very young man with W.H. (Doc) Hardin and Honest Homer Scott on Georgia Amusement Company, which later became Homer Scott Shows. Clark was known for his employment wanted ads in Amusement Business which lured workers with the promise of hot biscuits and warm beds. I later spoke to Bitner, who said, “We've been doing real good.” I told him that Clark told me that he and Katie had been together for 22 years but never married. I was quickly corrected when he said, “It's really been 24 or 25.” When I asked if he planned to get married, he replied quickly “Hell no. We'll spend that money where it's needed.”


    Asked what his major challenge has been since taking over ownership, Bitner didn't hesitate, “The damn help. Everything else is Cadillac, pretty nice.” Bitner is from Northeast Ohio, the town of Middlefield in Geauga County, and Katie is from Ashtabula County. “She moved around a lot before we met.” The show is now based in Gresham, South Carolina. Since taking over Smokey Mountain, Bitner has kept basically the same route, but cut the units from two to one since Billy and Sue had run one and he and Katie the other. “I picked and chose the rides I wanted to keep and Billy sold the rest. I kept the cream of the crop on the spots we play and eliminated some we had played in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Our route is much tighter now with dates in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. It really helps with fuel costs.”

    After the purchase, Bitner changed the name to B & K Carnival Company, added a Childress Expo Wheel and Orbiter, some trucks and generators. The show now travels with between 20 to 28 rides, four food stands and 15 to 18 games. Key people are Alicia Daugherty and Tim Bennett, who have games and food. Asked if he used H-2B foreign Visa labor, Bitner said, “This is our second year to do it. We should have done it 10 years ago. We asked for 18 workers this year, not really expecting to get them, but we took 11, leaving the rest for somebody else who might need them more. They're really good workers. All of ours are from Vera Cruz, Mexico.”

    The show opened its season the third week of March around Charlotte, North Carolina. “We do a lot of festivals in North Carolina and South Carolina. The fair route has stayed pretty much the same as it was. We're at a spot in Franklin, North Carolina, for the Shriners next week. We play the Georgia Mountain Fair in Hiawassee July 18 through the 27, where Hilda Thomason is still the General Manager.” Christine and I visited that spot several times and enjoyed major cookouts where Billy and Sue treated us to steaks, lobster tails and our favorite beverages. Old friend Jimmy Jay of Jayson Promotions, Hendersonville, Tennessee, always books a solid lineup of Country music acts there.

    Attendance has continued to slide in recent years at Hiawassee, which used to be a very good spot, and I asked Bitner his theory on why that has happened. He said, “During the economic bust several years ago, the demographics totally changed. People used to go to that fair from Atlanta, Chattanooga and even Knoxville. You'd have people coming to the mountains to enjoy the cooler weather, but now it's mostly retired people living around that area from Florida and Canada.”

    Asked if he ever booked with other shows, Bitner said, “We do four, five or six weeks with Bobby Brinkley of Brinkley Entertainment, who is based in Walnut Cove, North Carolina. We help each other wherever needed, depending on the size of the spots. I sent a couple of rides with Big A (Amusements of America) to Charleston (the Coastal Carolina Fair in Ladson, South Carolina) last year.” 

    Asked if Billy and Sue still come to visit, Bitner said, “They did, especially at Hiawassee every year but haven't since he sold their bus.” Bitner admitted he's excited about the fact that pretty soon he and Katie will completely own the show. “We've been lucky this year with weather. When it hits us, it happens on the right days, Mondays or Tuesdays. We haven't lost any of the good days, weekends. I can't complain about anything. Having this show has not been a struggle since Day One.”

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

    Have a great week and God Bless!!

  • Mon, July 08, 2019 6:50 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Some are better than none, even if you don't know when. For Carnival companies coping with a labor shortage due to a combination of political and processing issues, by early and mid-June – long anticipated H-2B workers began arriving to at fairs, festivals and other events across the country. 

    Companies are getting most of the H-2B workers they've requested and these workers are trickling in.  Even though they're often uncertain as to exactly when workers will arrive, when the entire amount of their request will be filled – and no one knows if they will be able to depend on a stable foreign guest worker force next year – carnival companies are overjoyed with relief that H-2B workers are coming in time to save their season.

    At 2 AM on June 13, 41 H-2b workers arrived in Maine via a chartered bus from Mexico.  Smokey's Greater Shows had filed for 55 visas, but given the very likely possibility that for much of this year the number of seasonal foreign workers for this carnival company could be zero, carnival owner Robbie Driskill could not complain. “We are getting them for the opening [of the Auburn Fair in Auburn, Maine) and we're very thankful.”

    Read entire Carnival Warehouse Article here >>>

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