The State Fair of Louisiana announced the hiring of Crabtree Amusements, Inc. of Staples, TX, to provide the carnival for the 2012 fair. The contract is for one year.
The new carnival will showcase several new rides and an overall fresh look to the State Fair of Louisiana midway, said fair officials. "We are pleased to partner with Crabtree. It is a large carnival that will open up many possibilities for the fair. Plus, Crabtree values variety, affordability, and family fun, just as we do here at the State Fair of Louisiana," said State Fair President and General Manager, Chris Giordano.
Crabtree is expected to bring 60 rides for the midway in 2012. Most of the rides will be from Crabtree's inventory but the carnival has said they will book several independent rides to round out the midway.
Crabtree Amusements is a family-owned and managed carnival, founded in 1978. Other major events Crabtree plays include:
- The Colorado State Fair - Pueblo, CO
- Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo - Austin, TX
- Heart of Texas Fair & Rodeo - Waco, TX
- Wyoming State Fair - Douglas, WY
"We pride ourselves in offering families a safe, enjoyable, fun-filled day to remember," said Crabtree Amusements President, Patrick Crabtree. "We feature bright, clean equipment, courteous employees and many comfort features to ensure the satisfaction of our patrons. Safety is a top priority at Crabtree Amusements. Our equipment is well maintained and conforms to industry standards."
The carnival contract for the State Fair of Louisiana has been held since 2005 by Lowery Carnival. Giordano's father Sam negotiated the deal to bring Lowery to Shreveport during his tenure at the fair's helm.
Following the 2011 fair, the fair Executive Committee elected to look at options for the midway in 2012. A midway incident at the 2011 fair played a role in the decision but the Executive Committee thought the time had come for a new, fresh look for the midway and tasked Giordano with coming up with an RFP process in short order.
When the decision was made in December of 2011 to go out with proposals, Giordano quickly put a process together and contacted shows he believed would be a good fit for the fair. Proposals were sent to Deggeller Attractions, Wade Shows, Crabtree, Goldstar, North American Midway Entertainment and Belle City Amusements.
Ultimately, three carnivals sent formal proposals. The responses from Goldstar, NAME and Crabtree were all excellent according to Giordano and the decision was a difficult one. Ultimately, Crabtree's response and the fair's familiarity with the company won the day and the company was awarded the contract for 2012. Awarding a one-year contract is not a reflection on the successful proposer's abilities but it is the way the fair has conducted it's midway business "as long as I can remember" said Giordano.
The RFP process was completed by the end of February.
Like many fairs, the State Fair of Louisiana is struggling to build revenue and keep its operations stable. Giordano has been working to add off-fair rentals during the year and improve fairgrounds efficiencies. He is looking at a rise in admission price from $8- 10 which he still believes is an outstanding value for his guest's entertainment dollar. Wristband prices are also being raised from $25 to $28.
The fair provides outstanding attractions for all ages that are free with gate admission, including the Coronas family's Circus Hollywood, the exotic Ultimate Safari, roving entertainers such as Dallas the Fire Guy and PJ the Clown, livestock shows and educational agriculture exhibits. Fair guests can also attend the State Fair's many headline concerts free with the price of admission. Another huge attraction is the annual State Fair of Louisiana PRCA Rodeo which features some of the biggest names on the professional circuit riding champion bulls and horses live at the fair.
Giordano believes that an outstanding list of entertainment, coupled with an all-new midway will boost attendance in 2012. The State Fair of Louisiana is ranked 45th on the MCW Top 50 North American Fairs list.