C&L Shows exhibited at the 2018 Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs Convention, held at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, Jan. 17 - 20, to gear up for the 2018 season and have some face time with their fair partners. Like many carnivals, the show uses the convention as a way to connect with new events and touch base with many of their long time clients. According to show owner Chris Polakovsky, the show had a pretty good 2017 season despite some rain in the middle of the summer.
The show's route consists of dates around Western Pennsylvania; they stay within about a 100 mile radius of Pittsburgh. Their season runs from the end of April through October; C&L Shows plays county fairs, church bazars, and firemen's festivals. While their route has remained the same for the most part,
they have picked up two new spots for the 2018 season: the Somerset County Fair in Meyersdale, PA and Ford City Days in Ford City, PA.
While their true season begins at the end of April, C&L Shows will put up five or 6 rides in about two weeks at an event called Kid-A-Palooza held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and produced by CBS. The one day event is sponsored by Giant Eagle and Green Giant Veggie Tots and features children's activities, stage shows and character meet and greets.
C&L Shows has been in business for 35 years; currently, the show consists of one unit containing about 20 rides. The company is completely family owned. Key staff members include Chris' wife, Linda Polakovsky, his nephew Jason Geyer, his son Nicholas Polakovsky, and his daughter Becca Polakovsky who comes out to the busier spots to help out in the food trailers. In addition to about 20 rides, the show owns 18 games and 4 food stands.
As it stands now, the unit can be torn down in 5 hours, about only about half of the rides require tractor loads. Moving the show from spot to spot takes about 12 semi loads plus additional pick up loads. Unlike many of their fellow carnival operators, C&L Shows, does not use any foreign labor, relying only on local hired help. According to Polakovsky, a lot of their employees have been with the company for as much as 20 years; "we pay them well, and they do a great job for us," says Polakovsky. Unlike others in the industry, C&L has been able to find and keep adequate help, though the size of the route and the ability to go home many nights helps in that regard.
The C&L team is happy with the size of the show and they plan to keep it about the same. "I don't feel the need to grow much larger. That requires a lot more equipment and then you have to take on a lot more unnecessary expenses," says Polakovsky. Some of C&L's more notable pieces are the 60 ft tall Eli Eagle 16 Wheel and their 3-abreast San Antonio carousel with Chance scenery. While the size of the show will remain about the same, Polakovsky revealed that he is looking to make a pretty big new ride purchase this year. "We like to take small steps, I never want to jump into anything with two feet. We have a strong foundation as a company and we want to keep building on it," says Polakovsky. Seeing the chance to add a new ride when the time is right is part of the long term strategy for the show.
C&L Shows keeps a small crew year-round at their winterquarters to help them work on off-season refurbishment projects. The show is having a new office/ticket booth built this year and are also giving their Hampton rides a new face-lift. Additionally, the Eli Eagle Wheel and Zamperla Kite Flyer will get new light packages. All the new and refurbished equipment will be ready for use at the start of the 2018 season.
In addition to the Pennsylvania Fair Convention, C&L Shows looks forward to attending the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Convention each year in Orlando and they will attend the 2018 IISF Gibtown Extravaganza in Gibsonton, Florida February 6 - 9.