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  • Fair Fare:  Eat, Drink and Be Healthy
    Ever bite into a big juicy burger and wonder where it came from?  People at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York don't.  According to their September 2017 press release, "the invention of the hamburger sandwich... took place during the 1885 Erie County Fair by Frank and Charles Menches of Canton, Ohio."
    The Menches brothers were food vendors at that 1885 fair, but "ran out of their signature menu item of pork sausage sandwiches."  It was then that Hamburg butcher Andrew Klein came to the rescue.  He suggested ground beef as a pork substitute.  When it cooked up "dry and bland," the Menches added "coffee, brown sugar and other ingredients to create a unique taste."  When topped off with "just ketchup and sliced onions," this newborn "hamburger" was good to go.
    People soon thought this was the best thing within sliced bread.  By the end of that same year, there were meatball sandwiches at the Outagamie County Fair in Seymour, Wisconsin.  Before you could say "fries on the side," burgers were making it big at the 1904 World's Fair.
    Fairs continue to invent and promote some of the world's favorite foods.  Just as the Menches burger morphed into regional varieties, so have other vendor specials.   Much of today's fair fare is not only delicious, but also economically nutritious. 
    Process to Product
    All this takes a whole lot of planning, as verified by Jim Sinclair, Deputy General Manager of the Minnesota State Fair. He explained, "Every year we search for new foods that are unique and unrepresented at the fair.  We have nothing against fried, but we're looking for a pretty good variety of products."
    "Media outlets want to know right away: What foods are new to your fair?  So we've had to develop a careful procedure by which vendors can make a submission.  It's become a very competitive process in some ways.  We want to make sure that all media gets the information at the same time so that no one outlet scoops the list of new products.  We keep that list very close to our vest beforehand."
    "We have a committee and staff to review the submissions.  There are several criteria that the committee considers:  Is the proposed product consistent and compatible with the menu for which the person was originally licensed?  A mini-donut vendor suddenly selling hot dogs would be a real disconnect.  Is the product of good quality in portion size and value?  The committee may even ask for samples to make sure.  A few years ago we had a gentleman who wanted to do chocolate-covered jalapeno peppers.  We tried some samples, and they didn't make the cut!"
    "Do concessionaires have enough room to meet health department requirements?  Do they have the equipment it takes to produce the product?  You can't have long lines of people waiting for that special treat.  Will there be enough volume to offer the product for all the days of the fair?  Will someone who comes on day 12 have the same selection as someone on day one?"
    "Will the product add to the array offered at the overall fair?  We look it over and ask: Is this really a new item, or is it simply an added flavor or topping?  If it's just a new flavor, i.e., ice cream sundaes with strawberries instead of chocolate sauce, then that's just a variation of an existing product."
    "When we seriously consider a submission, we ask for photos of the new item that reasonably represent what will be served to the fair guest.  We include high quality photos with the media listing, too."
    "The field of professional concessionaires is not as deep as it once was.  It's not an easy business to be in, or to break into.  We're looking more and more for people that have actual experience operating concessions. A concession is a different mode of operation than a restaurant or catering business because of demand for volume output on short notice."
    "We tell potential concessionaires that if they don't have experience operating a concession at a fair or similar venue, test the waters someplace else first.  You've got to come to us with that type of background.  This is not the place to come with just an idea and no practical experience."
    Successful Results
    Thirty-one new foods and five new vendors appeared at this year's Minnesota State Fair.  The website included a "2017 All Foods List," as well as cross-referenced locations for each and every product.  In total, there were "nearly 500 foods at 300 concession locations throughout  the fairgrounds," selections forjust about every palate and pocketbook.
    Libby Garrison of the Marin County Department of Cultural Services in San Rafael, California also reported on some innovative food fare.  She then referenced the county's "Play Fair Guide," which is chock-full of health-enhancing tips.  
    Lest this sound too humdrum, the following assurance is given: We're not talking about eliminating turkey legs or cotton candy.  It's about celebrating what you're already doing well and adding healthy choices.  This overall initiative has "received numerous awards from the Western Fairs Association and national attention for addressing health and safety needs of its community in innovative creative ways."  
    Marin County has found that these "seemingly small changes are good business strategies - and can happen without negative impacts in attendance or profits."  This year's fair featured popular
    treats such as raw oysters, freshly-blended juice smoothies,organic coffee, sushi, and falafel in pita bread.
    Bon Appetit!
    We've come a long way since that hamburger sandwich was devoured at the 1885 Erie County Fair. Now there seems to be a burger place on every corner.  And some even sell veggie burgers.  So who knows what's next in line?  Perhaps a Popeye-themed booth, featuring spinach bread dipped in olive oil...
    The market for all things "green" is rapidly growing.  Health and wealth not only rhyme, but are also closely related.  Will we see vendors slowly and steadily pursuing the best of both these worlds?

    New Food Items at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair:

  • H-2B Program likely to be Under More Stress in 2018
    In early November, representatives of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA) conducted their second Washington D.C. fly-in of the year. The fly-in that those representatives of the fair and mobile amusement industry participated in was arranged by the H-2B Workforce coalition - a group of about 40 industries who rely on seasonal workers - including seafood processing, amusement parks and hospitality.

    The fly-in had two objectives, one short-term and one long term. The long term -and more elusive goal - was to obtain a more permanent fix to the H -2B system. There are two bills posted in the Senate and Congress - S. 792 and HR 2004, respectively - but they have yet to be introduced at the committee level. According to Michael Wood of Wood Entertainment, and chairman of the Government Affairs Committee of the OABA, the only positive sign was that one of the congressmen supporting H-2B legislation - Billy Long (R-MO), whose congressional district includes Branson, a high user of H-2B workers, told Wood he spoke with President Donald J. Trump on Airforce One and that if a bill would reach his desk, he "would sign it."

    Of course, in the volatile political climate in Washington D.C., reaching that stage is a long way off. So, the more immediate short term goal was to avoid the snarls in the system that happened last year when relief of the 66,000 cap was critically delayed during the height of the fair season, causing hardship to most carnival companies. In addition, there is new pressure on the H-2B worker systems because of an expected shutdown of one program - J-1 Workers - causing employers using that system to switch to H-2B workers, further thinning the pool of workers for which carnival companies are struggling to compete. 

    Right now, the system is working under a frustrating and confusing cap-system - only 66,000 workers are allowed guest-worker visas and those visas are split in half, distributed twice a year. The new pressures are now affecting both halves of the distribution, where in 2017 only the second half was threatened, due to a new blip where cap relief in terms of a returning worker exemption was delayed because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - who had to approve the legislated exemption - took more than half the Summer to make a decisions. 
    Of course, complicating the H-2B legislation has been the inability for the public, politicians and media to separate the issue from the stew of immigration laws and anti-immigration sentiments now gaining popularity. 

    Anti-Immigration Rhetoric
     Wood pointed out in spite of Donald Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric in both his campaign and as president, that the Trump family businesses use the guest worker visa program, stating that his famous Mar-A-Logo resort in Palm Beach uses 80 H-2b workers. "The bottom line is that congress is continuing to do what congress does which is to kick the can down the road to the next congress."

    According to Wood, "the fly-in was fairly successful; we've picked up two members of congress. The main difference between the fly-in is that we are now used  to the administration, and we've come to grips with the fact Trump will continue to be president."

    The H-2B issue is essentially a bipartisan issue - and Wood said that the latest fly-in resulted in an estimated 30 - to 40 congressmen who "are pro-small business and pro-H-2B" and may be interested in a permanent fix and short term cap relief.  But the reality is "it's a political football, there is a tremendous amount of common ground, but it's difficult to get people to realize that the H-2B visas are not a path to citizenship, it's not an immigration issue."

    Wood says that the efforts are often sidetracked from opponents on the far right and the far left. The right wing wants to link H-2B issues with the now volatile immigration issues, including new travel bans and the lifting of protections  for individuals covered by DACA(Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) and the Dream Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). The left looks at H-2B purely as American worker rights issue. The fact that H-2B neither is a path to citizenship - workers come in then return to their home country -  or a workers rights debate - the program requires a good-faith effort be made to recruit American workers as well as other requirements ensuring that no jobs are being taken from American workers.

    But the facts of the issues seem to have little impact on the political realities of contemporary American politics. "There's a tremendous amount of common ground between the right and the left on the issue, but it's become a political football," he said. 

    While the labor issues impeded the program during the latter years of the Obama administration, it's the anti-immigration fervor creating the biggest obstacles for progress. "We did try to get something going with the national Hispanic caucus in Congress, but the fact is nothing that is remotely related to immigration will move forward."

    J-1 Threat
    The main reason for the fly-in was due a new wrinkle - exactly what this ongoing saga didn't need.  A rumor sprang up that another guest worker program - the J-1 Visa program, which allows individuals to study and work while traveling in the U.S, and the program mainly used by ski resorts was going away.  The Trump administration has signaled they are looking to shut down the J-1 Visa Program, which meant that there will be more industries vying for the H-2B workers.  As a result of that action, Ski resorts that normally use the J-1 visa program are now jumping over to the H-2B visa program, increasing competition for visas, forcing the cap to be reached sooner in the year.   "It has become toxic, and there are insufficient numbers of visas to reach this new demand," said Wood.

    There may be some cap relief for another source, according to Wood. One version of a bill providing funds for disaster relief and reconstruction due to extreme weather events in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico does contain a provision for additional H-2B workers, but like the new J-1 Worker controversy, nothing has been decided nor has there been any timeline suggested for the decision.

    There are only 66,000 total visas for all employers in all job categories, 33,000 for the first half of the fiscal year (Oct to Mar), and the balance for the second half (Apr to Sep). The majority of H-2B employers are seasonal businesses - such as carnival companies, but also seafood processing, landscaping, golf resorts, hotels and restaurants who typically operate when the weather is favorable - and the first half of the cap is rarely met. But "with the entry of the ski industry back into H-2B in large numbers, the cap will likely be met in early December, and those with a date of need beyond Feb 1 will likely be shut out," said Wood, who said that this situation is "putting further pressure on the second half of the cap, those with dates of need beginning on Apr 1 or later. This cap has always been met in recent years, and those with a date of need beyond Apr will likely be shut out. Whereas in the past, a date of need in May was usually ok, and early June a long shot to get in under the cap."

    Carnival companies and other members of the Outdoor Amusement industry typically utilize 5,500 visas, with nearly all of them falling into the second half of the cap -  In FY' 2017 a reported 74,000 visa applications with dates of need being Apr 1 were  submitted to DHS-in other words, nearly 10,000 more workers are needed than allowed for under the cap, and some leeway was made possible with the Returning Worker Exemption, or RWE, which allowed foreigners who had previously worked in the US on a H-2B visa for any the previous 3 fiscal years, be considered a returning worker,  exempting them from the cap of 66,000.

    In 2017, the form of cap relief that came via the RFE was included in appropriations bill, which Woods was a strategy that H-2B legislative proponents have used "multiple times in the past.  In 2017 this strategy failed, mostly because Legislators do not like to legislate via the appropriations process, and twice before they had already accommodated us. However our efforts did yield a onetime increase via the DHS funding bill."

    Sole discretion was granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly at the time (Kelly is now White House Chief of Staff), who after reportedly much debate decided in July to increase the cap by 15,000 workers, two months after being granted authority, a period of interaction during a critical time for  employing H-2B workers. When the workers finally came, it was too little too late.  

    Delays, Cancellations, Lost Revenue
    Peter Joseph, President of Jolly Shows, says that he had been using guest visa workers for a decade, and while "it was always uncertain, it wasn't too bad, up until 2017."

    As Joseph explains, his season was short staffed when his season opened in March, without any H2-B workers. It wasn't until  June that he received his first allotment of employees - six, and then because of delay in processing by the Department of Homeland Security, it was until early August he received an additional 10. He originally requested 25, the amount he received last year. 

    Like other carnival companies, Joseph claims he would rather hire American workers, but they are just not enough of them interested carnival work, not to mention able to pass background and drug tests. Joseph said that as usual, he got some bites, but nothing panned out. He wound up cancelling an early event and at subsequent locations, he hired local temp workers, which resulted in similar problems. "I hired about 20, and the next day. I had one guy left," he said. "I used a temp service for ride operators, but that was a nightmare too. You wind up training different guys every day, it's time consuming."

    In addition to cancellations, he delayed some midway openings by a day or day and a half because the manpower shortage extended the set up time. By the end of the summer, with the H-2B workers finally onsite, he was able to salvage the season. But it was a very difficult year, not to mention frustrating. "We are not taking away jobs, we are keeping jobs, because without the foreign workers we cannot keep the American workers we do have," he said. "It is just the opposite, because American workers are taking these jobs."

    He added, "We finally did get some of the workers we needed. I like to be optimistic about everything, but I would like for it to not happen next year, but I don't see it getting better."

    "I hope and pray every day that  congress sees the need to fix the system because with the way the H-2B workers are now, I doubt that our business can continue to survive and thrive into another generation, " said Lisa Weiland, Manager, of Mr. Ed's Magical Midways. The company did wind up with 27 H-2B workers, but because of the DHS delay in approving cap relief, they didn't arrive until August 10th, barely in time for the midway provider to salvage the season.

    Mr. Ed's Magical Midways is a fifth generation carnival company, and Weiland said it was the worst labor year in the company's history. The midway provider did not cancel any events, but she did scale back, meaning about a third less rides and/or concessions at some fairs.  There were some American workers, but they mainly worked only a fair or two, and were not on board  for the long haul. "They do not want to travel, or give up nights and weekends. It was very frustrating." 

    Luckily, the fairs were understanding and supportive of their long-term midway partner, mainly because they were under similar constraints. "The fairs were having a hard time finding workers, so they were going through struggle with labor," she said. "Unemployment is low; you see help wanted signs in all the windows when you drive around. They were very understanding, but both our revenues were down." 

    Clearly H-2B problems are not going away any time soon. It is unclear if there will be the same returning worker exemption next year, and if it is somehow added to another appropriations or spending bill, will a similar DHS delay occur? 

    Future Uncertain
    Well, no one is certain, but the H-2B coalition and the fair industry have learned to endure frustration and celebrate even minor victories and the slightest glimmers of hope.  "But we are really in need of a permanent fix; we are running out of other avenues," said Mick Brajevich of Butler Amusements, who went on the fly-in. "We need a real bill."

    But getting a real bill requires successfully isolating guest workers from immigration issues. "This is not an immigration issue and we've been trying to explain our case for the last 10 years," said Brajevich. "It has become a hot button issue and people don't want to pick a side, and until we can separate us from the immigration issue, they are going to be labeling this immigration."

    Separating it from immigration requires one-on-one meetings between coalition members. But more importantly, the OABA - which claims 25 percent of its operating funds and staff time are now consumed with H-2B lobbying efforts  - has been emphasizing that the individual members and their fair partners and other stake holders in the fair and outdoor amusement industry make their voices known at the local level and meeting with the congressional and senatorial representatives. "We are doing what we can to spread the word, but I can't say that I've yet to see large enough numbers of rank and file OABA members and fairs writing letters and meeting with representatives to make a difference." 

  • North American Midway Entertainment endures, despite challenges
    COLUMBIA, S.C. --- North American Midway Entertainment felt a pinch in business this year year due to multiple factors, none of which had to do with the weather, according to company officials.          
    The Las Vegas mass shootings and the Ohio State Fair ride accident had an affect on midway sales over the last half of the season, said Blake Huston, unit manager and the son of Danny Huston. The elder Huston and Jeff Blomsness are among the carnival's primary stakeholders.        
    The West Side Nut Club Fall Festival in Evansville, IN., for example, which typically draws attendance of 200,000, was down this year despite ideal weather, Blake Huston said. The event, which has no gate admission, took place in early October, just prior to the South Carolina State Fair. 
    "People were not coming out as much and those that were there were not staying as long," Huston said. "People were talking about what happened in Las Vegas. Attendance was down and I think that incident was still fresh in people's minds."
    Huston was in Evansville supervising the Mid-America Shows unit, which is part of North American Midway's overall operation. After NAME picked up the Arkansas State Fair this year, the carnival made some adjustments. 
    Tony Diaz, who ran the midway at South Carolina over the past decade, switched to Arkansas. In turn, Huston filled the gap in Columbia, his final spot of the year before heading back to his family in Farmland, Ind.
    Here at the South Carolina State Fair, attendance was down by about 35,000. NAME's ride income dropped by almost $480,000, resulting in an 11 percent decrease compared with 2016, as reported by Tom Powell for the Outdoor Amusement Business Association newsletter.
    The cancellation of ZZ Top, among the concert headliners at the fair's Pepsi Grandstand, did not help, Huston said. "Concerts are not a huge deal here, but those events usually bring in 5,000 people," he said.
    On top of those issues, the carnival struggled with a shortage of labor tied to the H2B Visa program for international workers. North American Midway Entertainment typically employs 400 workers from Mexico and South Africa, but did not get most of those people until late August, Huston said.
    A combination of several factors left the carnival in a bind. The landscaping business eats up half of the workers available and carnivals that go out earlier in the season get a jump on other shows that depend on the labor source, Huston said. 
    Plus, there were fewer H2B workers available this year after the federal government applied a cap of 66,000 employees with no exemptions for returning workers under the Department of Labor program. Blomsness said it's a never-ending battle for the carnival industry.
    "Everybody had to do twice as much work," he said. "We advertised in social media and in newspapers for local help and then we have to train them, which takes up more time. For the American labor force, some of them tell us they can make more money by going on welfare. What are you going to do?"
    For North American Midway Entertainment, compounding the labor issue was the tragic loss of Jeff Shuper, one of the carnival's most valuable employees. Shuper died in a car accident in mid-October near Jackson, Miss.
    Shuper worked for the old Farrow Shows before the carnival was consolidated into the NAME family. He was the ultimate trouble shooter with the skills to work on multiple rides, Huston said.
    "It was a huge loss for our company and for the industry," he said.
    This year, North American Midway held the line on ride purchases and instead focused on improving its infrastructure. The carnival purchased four new bunkhouses from Lifetime Manufacturing, two new generators from Showmen's Supply and five new Ford vans to help transport employees.
    Looking ahead to 2018, company officials are waiting to see how things shake out in the industry with equipment tied to the KMG Fireball ride and other super spectaculars produced by the European manufacturer. 
    It was a Fireball owned and operated by Amusements of America that resulted in the death of an 18-year-old man at the Ohio State Fair in late July, resulting in multiple states imposing temporary bans on that piece of equipment.
    On its own, NAME owns eight KMG products, including three Fireballs, and those rides have been out of operation since the accident in Columbus. 
    The carnival's first big event next year is the Miami-Dade County Fair in March, which is among North America's biggest fairs. As of last month, the show did not know whether those rides would be approved for use in Florida. 
    It would most likely require purchasing replacement parts, a major investment, Huston said.  
    "Several fairs have told us they don't want the Fireball and Freak Out," he said. "We have not ordered new parts. The Fireball is a big ride, one of our top-grossing pieces and it would not be easy to replace. The capital expenditure is huge and we don't want to spend the money if the fairs don't want the ride."
    "As of now, it's too early to make a decision," Huston said. "Certain states have different things they want tested now and additional testing would be required in the State of Florida. But it all goes back to whether the fair wants them in the first place."

  • IAFE Closes Final Show in Vegas; Show moves to San Antonio in 2018
    The final IAFE Convention in Vegas concluded on Wednesday, ending a tradition begun in 1971 after moving from Chicago to Vegas.  The convention has had a few different sites and venues over the years, but Vegas has been home for over 4 decades.  In 2018, the show will move to San Antonio, TX for the first time and officials there are excited about the transition.  The city had a display booth in the convention walkway advertising this wonderful city and all it has to offer.  

    Two of the largest events in North America, the San Antonio Livestock Show and Exhibition and Fiesta San Antonio, both make their homes in the city.  The convention will be held at the magnificent Henry B. Gonalez Convention Center, located along the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  The city-owned Convention Center hosts over 300 events each year with 750,000 visitors.  The Convention Center footprint stretches to 1.6 million square also boasts the largest ballroom in Texas.  The primary lobby features a large interactive $1 million art installation  called "Liquid Crystal", which was  designed by the Jason Bruges Studio in London.

    The Convention Center is connected tot the Grand Hyatt hotel and there are several other major properties within easy walking distance.  The Riverwalk, located along the San Antonio river, is a tree-lined hotbed of entertainment, restaurants and night life.  

    In a 2015 Carnivalwarehouse article, Jim Tucker, then-CEO of the IAFE, said the organization received only 1 bid for the convention to stay in Las vegas in 2018 and 2019 and the bed was 1.5 times higher than current costs.  To add insult to injury, the new contract proposal contained an attrition clause that could make the IAFE liable for up to $250,000 if convention attendees did not book at the host hotel.  Given the expenses and attitude of Vegas towards the convention, the IAFE elected to take its 4,000+ member event and make the move to San Antonio.  The contract in San Antonio is for four years, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

    We detailed the SLA Hall of Honor winners in our last article and the IAFE also recognized some of its outstanding members.  The State and Provincial Executive of the Year award went to Stephen Chambers of the Western Fair Association,  the Young Professional's Initiative (YPI) Rising Star award to Miranda Muir of the Osceola County Fair; five Heritage awards were given to to Ron Oleheiser, Maxine Schwartz, Steve Storck, Bill Thompson, and Dr. Howard Worts; and the Hall of Fame award went to Cindy Hoye of the Indiana State Fair.

    In other IAFE news, Becky Brashear, current Chairmen of the organization and Assiatent Manager, Maryland State Fair, passed the gavel to Rick Vymlatil of the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach.  Vymlatil, along with CEO Marla Calico, will lead the organization in 2018 and oversee the move of the convention from Las Vegas to San Antonio.  

    Speaking of long standing traditions, one trade show exhibitor was entering his 62nd year of touring.  Leroy Van Dyke, country music artist and leader of the Country Gold Tour.  
    Van Dyke's hit single “Walk on By” was named by Billboard magazine in 1994 as the biggest country music single of all time.  It topped the US country charts for 19 weeks after its release in 1961. It also reached #5 on the pop charts at the time.  His other huge hit “The Auctioneer” has sold over 2.5 million copies.  Van Dyke has recorded more than 500 songs in his career with dozens making the record charts.

    The impetus for the Country Gold Tour came after Van Dyke had been touring for a while, playing many fairs and festivals.  Inevitably the fairs would come and say “Leroy, we love you but we need you to change it up a bit in order to book you again”.  Having listened to this for a number of years, Van Dyke decided to launch the Country Gold tour in 1990.  The concept was to gather several million selling country music artists together and have them play their hits, all at one time.  In a way, this is a forerunner of the festival style-set popular today where each band is only given a limited stage time and play only their best songs.

    Leroy's wife Gladys said the tour is streamlined, offering only top selling artists from country's golden era, keeping costs down and interest high.  “Each artist draws from his own fan base and together it makes a powerful team”, said Mrs. Van Dyke.

    The tour has been a big hit at fair with venues like the Iowa State Fair booking the acts for decades, the Florida State Fair for about 15 years and the Midwest Threshers in Mount Pleasant Iowa for many years.  The tour also plays Performing Arts Centers, Casinos and festivals as well as fairs each year.

    Popular county music artists and veterans of the Country Gold tour,  Hank Thompson and Johnny Russell have passed away and now artists such as TG Shepard and Gene Watson.  In all, the tour has access to over 50 artists that can play on the tour at any time.  

    With this incredible roster of talent, Gladys Van Dyke proudly says that every song the public hears on the tour is a million seller and familiar to the audience.

    With 62 years of touring under his belt, you may wonder what keeps Van Dyke going after all these years?  Its his fans that keep it special he answers.  After the shows, at the merchandise tables and in meet and greats, fans come up with tears in their eyes, he says.  “I never thought I would get to meet you”, they say of Van Dyke or one of his star performers.  For those fans, now in their senior years, who never got the chance to see these artists live when they were younger, the Country Gold Tour makes a strong connection with an earlier part of their life for a few hours at a fair or festival.  

    2017 SLA / IAFE Trade Show Coverage

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2017 TOP 50 FAIRS
1. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
2. Texas State Fair - Dallas, TX
3. San Antonio Livestock Show & Ex. - San Antonio, TX
4. Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
5. San Diego County Fair - Del Mar, CA

View Top 50 Fairs
The Industry Buzz
2018 Carnival Calendars - NOW SHIPPING
2017 Carnival Photo Calendars are now shipping!  Quantities are limited!  Get yours today!

Since 2003, the carnival photo calendar has become a tradition in everyones home or office for over 15 years.'s 2018 Carnival Calendars are available exclusively through!  Unlike anything of it's type, the calendar is professionally printed on gloss stock and features over 72 photos of carnivals and concessions from around the country.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 11/27/2017
Broward County Fair kicks off Friday with a variety of midway operators
The resurrected Broward County (Fla.) Fair starts Friday at Gulfstream Park with a carnival midway consisting of about 60 rides and attractions. In addition to his own rides, fair producer Harlan Bast has booked equipment from Modern Midways, Rides of Utica, Michael's Amusements, Geren Rides, Deggeller Attractions and Oscar's Amusements, among others. In addition, independent ride owner Butch Van Hull has booked his Zyklon coaster. Independent concessionaire Nigel Carley is managing the food and game operation with 75 games set up for the event. Fair admission is $10 and the most expensive ride wristband is $25. For the two Midnight Madness specials on the fair's two Fridays, gate admission is free after 10 p.m. The fair runs through Nov. 26.   Posted by Don Muret on 11/15/2017
SLA Announces Annual Christmas Party
Chicago, IL - The Showmen's League of America (SLA) announces the annual Christmas Party at The Hanson Park Elementary School at 5411 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, IL on December 8th. Each year, SLA volunteers and donors partner up to entertain and provide two Christmas shows for hundreds of underprivileged and disabled students.

Santa, Rudolph, and Guy and Charlene Leavitt of Ray Cammack Shows will be there as well as many volunteers. Every child will receive a stuffed animal, cotton candy, and popcorn while they watch the showpeople perform on stage, this year headed by Tim Balster of Balster Magic Productions.

On December 7th, members and friends are invited to the SLA headquarters at 1023 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL for dinner and camaraderie.

The SLA would like to thank Christmas Party Chairmen Peter Kasin and Donnie Massie, III for coordinating the event along with all of the volunteers and stock donors. Special thank you's go to Dave Jaros and Patti Grillion for the dinner, Fundways of Illinois, Fare Foods, and Gold Medal.

  Posted by Cindy Henning on 11/8/2017
Firestone Financial Announces "Take Half The Season Off" Promotion
Needham, MA - November 6, 2017 - Firestone Financial, the leader of financing in the carnival industry, is offering customers the ability to only pay for half the season for new loans. Any carnival or amusement park that funds a new loan by Memorial Day of 2018 will only need to pay for half the season for the first year. For borrowers that have a seasonal schedule that runs from May to October, payments would only be made from August to October in 2018; payments for subsequent years would follow the seasonal schedule.

In additional to this program, Firestone Financial also offers lines of credit to qualified customers. A Firestone credit line may be used for new and used rides, light packages, bunkhouses, winter quarters, insurance and maintenance.

Interested parties are encouraged to visit Firestone Financial at IAAPA, booth 1813 or call 800-851-1001 ext. 42 for more information.

  Posted by Firestone Financial on 11/6/2017
In our efforts to chronicle the history of our industry, we could think of no better way to further this endeavor than to interview industry pioneers and preserve their videos for posterity.

LIFETIME Products is building bunk houses for carnivals, concessionaires, entertainers and more with units starting at just $39,900.  Call 813-781-9182 for info.

Deggeller Attractions is now hiring ride, game, food, cdl drivers, and more.  Visit to apply.

Schantz Manufacturing has over 60 years of manufacturing award winning custom concession trailers.  Visit our web site at or call 618-654-1523.

Rocken Graphics specializes in ride, concession, and trailer wraps for the amusement industry.  In addition to wraps, Rocken Graphics is also a one source sign shop providing game & concession signs, ride signs, midway signs, a-frame signs, and much more.  We also produce digitally printed canvas for a high-impact on the midway! Call 740-459-9045 or visit for more info.

Michael's Amusements - CDL drivers, Ride Foremen, Food & Game Help wanted for 2017!

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