Powers and Thomas Midway Entertainment closed out a strong 2017 season and is poised to have a great year in 2018. According to Ed Powers, the company has acquired five new fairs for the 2018 season: the Cattaragus County Fair in New York, Chautauqua County Fair in New York, Warren County Fair in Pennsylvania, Crawford County Fair in Pennsylvania, and Lenoir County Fair in North Carolina.
Powers and Thomas originally purchased Swank's Steel City Shows and played their existing route. Now, heading into their fourth season, Powers and Thomas only play a couple of spots from the original Swank's Steel City Show route as they have grown and expanded over the years. The show picked up events in the fall in North Carolina and is even stretching into eastern New York in the Spring.
their winterquarters in Holly Ridge, North Carolina, the Powers and Thomas crew worked on refurbishing their Hurricane ride and their carousel. Light packages on both of the rides are being updated to a full LED package.
In addition to refurbishing some equipment, Powers and Thomas has purchased a new Gull Wing generator, a new ice cream trailer, and a Chance 3-abreast carousel which will all be seen on the midway this year. The carousel, while used, will get a full makeover in winter quarters and look brand new coming our, according to Powers.
For Powers and Thomas, the 2018 season will begin the third week in March in Wilmington, North Carolina and they will head North after that. As their route stands now, the show plays fairs and festivals in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina exclusively.
Powers and Thomas is owned and operated by Ron and Tracy Thomas and Ed and Amy Powers. Other key staff members included Ron's father, also Ron, as well as Charlie Belknap. "Charlie has been a great addition to the team. He does our Public Relations and Marketing and works closely with fair and festival staffs," says Powers. Jeremy and Tamara Thomas are concessionaires on the show's route.
Currently, Powers and Thomas is made up of 25 rides, about 5 food stands which are owned by the show, and 20-25 games. The show travels as one unit and will always stay that way according to Powers. While Powers and Thomas are certainly happy with the progress that they've made, they do have a "wish list" of ride additions that they hope to achieve within the next 5 years. "Our goal is to have about 30-32 rides within the next five years," says Powers.
Over the four years Powers and Thomas have been in existence, they have acquired an impressive array of rides from Super Spectacular all the way down to kiddie rides. Currently, they have nine thrill rides: High Flyer, Hurricane, Pharaoh's Fury, Sizzler, Giant Wheel, Swing Buggy, Tilt-A-Whirl, Zero Gravity, and the Zumur. They have eight family rides: Dizzy Dragons, Fire Chief Funhouse, Fun Slide, Giant Expo Wheel, Grad Carousel, Magic Maze Funhouse, Quadzilla, and a Scooter. Their 6 kiddie rides include: Farm Tractors, Granny Bugs, Monster Trucks, Motorcycles, Sooper Jet, and Wiggle Worm.
Powers and Thomas started their show from scratch and Powers says that the most difficult challenge as they built their company was acquiring reliable labor; it's certainly a problem that most carnival operators experience. About 25-30 of Powers and Thomas' labor is foreign labor and, with the news that the H2B cap has been met, Powers is anxious that they may not get the foreign labor they need. "It's hard to pick up labor that lasts. I can't sleep at night thinking we may not get our H2B workers," says Powers. Powers said he has had many of his workers return over the years and they have become like family.
Throughout the season, Powers, a former school soccer player, enjoys a weekly game with his workers. Once finished for the season, workers from Mexico play in a league back home. The teams are divided into the carnivals that they work for during the season. Powers, Helms, NAME and Talley Amusements are just some fo the shows that are represented in the league.
The soccer season culminates in a tournament held in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Power, feeling such a close attachment to his workers, traveled with his family to play in the tournament in Mexico this year. His son, a soccer player in his own right, serves as goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, despite the help of the two Americans, the Powers & Thomas team lost in the semi-finals to Helm and Son's team. Powers cherishes the opportunity to visit his employees in Mexico and spend part of the offseason with them. "I went down to Mexico to see my guys and play in the soccer tournament. They're really like family to me and I don't know what we would do without them," says Powers.
Asked how thy set themselves apart from a crowded field of carnivals, Powers said all of his employees are uniformed and they go through background and drug testing before they are hired to work on the show. They also have extensive amenities such as seating areas for their guests.
For the 2018 season, one of Powers and Thomas' biggest goals is to re-focus on midway amenities and comfort. "We want people to come out to the fair, have the opportunity to sit down and relax or avoid the sun. We want people to want to stay on our midway," says Powers.