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Penn Valley Shows Continues to Expand
Benner family hopeful to get H2B workers in time for 2018 season


By Mary Weber

Photo courtesy of Penn Valley Shows

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Penn Valley Shows travels a route around Central Pennsylvania. In 2017, they, like many others in the industry, experienced some rough rain. Show owner, Christina Benner, recalled flooding at the 2017 Huntingdon Fair. "I remember standing in the office and seeing the water coming in. They had to evacuate campers on the fairgrounds," says Benner. Luckily, the midway was set up on a hill so there was not any damage done to the rides. 

Kerry and Christina Benner started the company in 2010. Now, they work with their daughter Alycia, sons, Chase and Chance, and Alycia's fiance, Brett Klee. Currently, Penn Valley Shows has 19 rides, and 3 food trailers: a popper, a funnel cake, and a pizza. They also travel with 16 games to provide a variety of fun for their customers: a balloon pop, a block buster, a candy wPhoto By Penn Valley Showsheel, a cork gun, a duck pond, a hi-striker, a one-in wins, a pong, a poster dart. A roll 'em, a shark fishing game, a skee ball, and a water race. Everything that travels with the show is family owned. Christina owns the food and she and her children own the games. 

Although the show is very new, Kerry and Christina have been in the business for their whole lives. Eventually, they split with Kerry's father in 2007 to begin forming their own amusement company. Starting a company virtually from scratch can be extremely challenging. Christina Benner recalls that the most difficult part was building a strong and reliable route; "Finding spots for our route was difficult and finding rides to build a strong company was also hard," says Benner. When they split from Kerry's father, they retained 4 locations from the original route. Through hard work and dedication, the Benner family was able to start out with a complete route their first year. 

The show's season opens March 30th when they contract in with Swika's Amusements in Philadelphia; their last spot of the year is the Bloomsburg Fair at the end of September, where they also subcontract rides. Penn Valley Shows picked up a new spot for 2018: the Dayton Fair in Dayton, PA. The Spring season mostly consists of church and fireman's festivals for Penn Valley Shows. Their county fair season begins in Mid-July with the Lebanon Fair. Other county fairs on the show's route include: Huntingdon Fair, Dayton Fair, Elizabethtown Community Fair, Fulton County Fair, Juniata County Fair, and Beaver Fair. 

The Benner family has been busy refurbishing equipment at their winterquarters in Milburn, PA during the off-season. They are working on fixing up some game trailers and their Loop-O-Plane ride. Penn Valley Shows is also anticipating two brand new game trailers this season. According to Christina Benner, her husband has an affinity for bringing home old rides and fixing them up in their shop. " Every ride we own has a story. He brought three rides home this winter. Everyone works in the shop, Kerry and the rest of the guys will weld and do the mechanics, Alycia will sand and I'll paint," says Benner.

Penn Valley Shows will be at the 2018 IISF Gibtown Extravaganza in Gibsonton, Florida. Christina says they are on the hunt for a new, large piece to add to their ride line-up. Currently, Penn Valley Shows owns an Alien Encounter, Antique Cars, A San Antonio Carousel, a Casino, a Dance Party Bounce House, a Dragon Wagon, a Nittany Wheel, a Fun Slide, a Loop-O-Plane, a Mardi Gras Glass House, a Monkey Mayhem, a Paratrooper, a Round Up, a Scooter, and a Train Station. Their San Antonio Carousel was previously owned by Interstate Amusements of America. 

Overall, the Benner family is happy with the size of their Show. Christina and Kerry are happy with their route and the amount of rides they have. However, Alycia, Chase, and Chance Benner have interest in growing the show a bit. "We want the show to be a little bigger to support all of our families and have more opportunity to work together," says Alycia Benner. 

To keep the show running, Penn Valley Shows hires about 30-40 employees each year. Christina Benner says they applied for foreign labor last year but were denied and are really hoping that they will be granted some H2B employees for this season. "We really need them. It's really hard to find good quality labor," says Benner. All of Penn Valley Shows' employees stay in bunkhouses and travel with the show March-October.

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