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  • Improved Marketing and Midway Design Boosts Ionia Free Fair
    Helped by a streak of good weather and an improving - albeit slowly - Michigan Economy, the Iona Free Fair had a successful 2017 event.

    Metrics are hard to come by for this fair because as the name of the fair states - free - which refers to admission. A cost-free gate impedes accurate statistics on the number of fairgoers who attend - the fair does generate revenue through parking fees, but that does not help in creating a fairgoer count - but according to Becca Usher, General Manager, fair attendance was about 440,000 making it one of the largest free fairs in the country.           

    In fact, the fair bills itself as the Largest Free Fair in the World.

    New Improvements
    "This year exceeded all my expectations," she said. "We had made improvements on the grounds, black top on the midway. Our fairgrounds are old, 102 years old, and we have really focused on those capital improvements. We are looking at the numbers still, but our parking numbers are up and other numbers are up."

    The 2017 Iona Free Fair is Usher's last time at the helm of the Michigan event, one of the largest county fairs in Michigan, although technically it is not an official county fair. 

    Usher's background is in marketing and promotion, and when she took over as general manager five years ago, her emphasis was to improve the marketing of the fair ranging from enticing fairgoers to improving sponsorships.  Previously, the fair outsourced most of its marketing, but Usher brought the process in house, and injected new creative energy into the telling of the fair's story.  This included more vibrant graphics, more aggressive campaigns and even obtaining a Fair Mascot - Kelsey - a dairy cow.

    "We changed the marketing process and focus by handling it with staff," she said, adding that that attendance is about double now than when she started, and "We are having great local sponsorship. We partner with a lot of local companies."

    The Iona Free Fair is a nonprofit organization, and Usher expanded the sponsorship program to include in-kind donations, such as CL Trucking & Excavating, an Iona firm who "does all our grounds keeping. We don't always get a lot of outside money, but we do get a lot other partners, who are great."

    Memories Made Here
    The Iona Free Fair utilizes two marketing themes or taglines - Memories Made Here and 10 Best Days of Summer. "My concept always been to engage the 4-H with the carnival and food and things about the fair. So we have graphic design images of farm animals eating fair food or riding rides. We do a quite a bit of billboards, the graphics we made are great designs, and we use them in our print brochure."

    The marketing budget is about $100,000. She estimated that Radio, TV and Billboards make up more than half the budget, and about 20 percent goes to online advertising. 

    Social Media has proven a cost-effective component of the marketing mix, and she said that 70 percent of the traffic on social media has been "interaction with our customers, answering their questions and concerns. We get a lot of feedback."

    In addition, social media creates new audiences and a second life for many of the commercials. "We work harder at capturing more people through social media, and we share the great commercials we make with our graphics, it's very impactful."
    What also is effective  are videos. "People like videos of the food, or a new ride. They can interact with the video by liking and sharing" 

    Usher was born and raised in Iona, and was always involved with the Iona Free Fair. Her mother was a board member and she even took a board seat in 2012, prior to being named General Manager. Although now moving on to new opportunities, she will "miss the intensity of it. There is always a risk factor, because you plan all year and all your money comes in only a matter of days. You have a plan but it is also every decision you make impacts every other decision you make."

    Arnold Amusements
    In 2017,  Usher's decisions seem to have had a very noticeable impact on the midway. The Arnold Amusements midway - the fourth year for the company as the fair's midway provider - was up nearly 15 percent, a record year for the carnival company at the event. 

    Joey Even, Office Manager, Arnold Amusements said that the weather was "beautiful," and that part of the reason for the increase was that last year's fair was plagued by a Midwestern heat wave that negatively impacted economic activity at many outdoor events last summer.

    But, Even emphasized that "they did a really great job with their marketing in 2017. Their advertising branched out, and we did a Super Fun Pass this year, and that was sold months in advance. We were happy with the carnival and the entertainment."

    Free Admission - the Ionia Fair is the midway company's only free admission fair - is also a positive. "This is the only county fair we do that is free. We feel it works out because people come and with free admission they spend more money on the rides and vendors. We feel it helps the carnival.  

    Arnold Amusements featured 40 rides, introducing  a new Equinox and Zero Gravity at the fair. Even said the top rides include The Giant Wheel, Equinox, Freak Out, Flying Bobs and Scooters. 
    In addition, the  midway was redesigned. Going against the recent trend of segregating children rides in a Kiddieland, Arnold Amusements mixed the children rides with the family and bigger rides. "We were only getting the younger kids and their families when the rides were apart, but mixing them we get the teenagers and bigger kids together with their families," she said. "We had more foot traffic."

    "Arnold Amusements had a beautiful midway," said Usher. "We were thrilled with the appearance, the amount of rides, and the quality of rides. I think aesthetically, the new layout worked extremely well." 

    The midway was further augmented by increasing amenities, such as more hospitality tents and seating areas.  Arnold Amusements, based in Traverse City, Michigan, plays a mainly Michigan route and says that the economy this summer is finally showing signs of improvement. "We've seen slow increases in spending. The economy took a real dive a few years ago, but our route this year we have seen that things are better. The state is bouncing back. The auto industry is starting to pick and that is good. We count our blessings." 

    Ticketed Entertainment Up
    Most of the grounds entertainment at the fair was free, which included concerts - mainly tribute bands - and a new stationary grounds act - the Amazing Arthur, a magician and hypnotist. "He was very popular and we had a new tent for him," said Usher.

    Main ticketed entertainment for the fair was motor spectacles on the grandstands, including Monster Trucks, Motor Cross and a Duro-Derby.  Grandstand music entertainment had become too financially unfeasible and was done away with in the early 00's. This year, ticket sales for the grandstand events were up 7.5 percent. "Our Monster Truck event was close to a sell out, and the other events were close to capacity." 
    The fair featured 30 food vendors, a number that was down a "little bit from last year," she said, attributing the dip to the fair dates coming a little earlier this year and causing scheduling conflicts. A flat fee is charged to food vendors, so again metrics are hard to come by. "But there were many lines so the food vendors all seemed to be doing well," she said. 

    A popular new piece of fair cuisine was a new twist on an old staple:  Fried Chicken on a  Stick, which boasted a crispy coating made with Frosted Flakes.  

    The Ionia Free Fair - first started in 1915 - intends to remain forever free.  As Usher prepares to step down from her positions, she said that her last fair "Exceeded all my expectations. We have made a lot of improvements on the grounds, our marketing. We've kept our expenses the same and learn to run a lean machine and our attendance use to be literally half of what we had this year." 

  • Midway Millennials:  Sara Ketcham of Ketcham Concessions
    Midway Millennials is an ongoing series profiling the new generation of fair professionals.  If you know someone you think should be profiled, please email us with information.

    Sara Ketcham has come a long way in the outdoor amusement industry since her start in the business when she was just 10 years old. Ketcham currently owns two games of her own: a ring a duck game and a drag a fish game. Additionally, Ketcham is a full partner in food and game concessions with her parents, John and Dee, who started Ketcham Concessions.

    Sara Ketcham's parents met on the road when her father was working for his uncle and her mother was working for a family friend. After a very brief period together, the couple married and started with just one joint that they worked together. The Ketchams began working for S&S Amusements from Pennsylvania. 

    Ketcham started working in her parents' water race game when she was just 10 years old. The Ketchams had a house in Pennsylvania where she stayed to go to school; she would come out to help on the weekends and on school breaks. "I was always given a choice and I always chose to come out and work," says Ketcham. Eventually, as the business grew, the Ketchams sold their house and went full time on the road. 

    According to Ketcham, the time came when she was considering moving on in the industry on her own, but, she and her parents decided that working together would be better than splitting up as they each have different strengths they bring to the team. "Staying together enabled us to grow a lot stronger," says Ketcham. 

    Ketcham Concessions travels almost exclusively with Wade Shows on their second unit route and then goes with the show when their units combine for the South Florida Fair, the Florida State Fair and the Central Florida Fair. One exception occurs when Ketcham takes the bacon stand to the Meadowlands Fair in New Jersey. Depending on the spot, Ketcham Concessions will set up anywhere from 6-10 games at a time. 

    Sara Ketcham is involved in every aspect of the business. Alongside her mother, she helps with hiring new employees and making sure they have adequate staffing for each spot. On a day to day basis Sara focuses on merchandising and inventory. She also helps with driving from place to place and says she often will pull 2 loads each move.

    As a young member of the outdoor amusement industry, Ketcham is always looking for ways to streamline and simplify her business. When asked about new technology she includes in her game and food operations, Ketcham mentioned that she has an easier time modernizing her food operations than her games; "You really need to be able to go with the flow out here on the road, especially with games," says Ketcham. 

    Using new apps and technology works a lot better in food stands. Ketcham uses the Square cash system for her registers and credit card processing. One of the benefits of the Square cash system is the ability for managers to check sales updates on their phones and compare sales from year to year. 

    "I can look at my phone and say 'on this weekend last year we sold this much bacon let's make sure we're prepared for that this year' or 'let's cut back on this product because it didn't sell well' I've saved a lot of waste using this system," says Ketcham. 

    The outdoor amusement industry is a growing market for point of sale system technology and Ketcham looks forward to using new apps to streamline her business in the future."The Square company is constantly calling for feedback and more and more usable applications are coming out that can fit my needs," says Ketcham. 

    When asked if she has any advice for young people looking to make a name for themselves in the outdoor amusement industry, Ketcham says to always be the hardest worker: first one out and last one to go home. She has found that treating others well, and approaching each day with positive energy makes all the difference on the road. 

    "Find an aspect of the industry that you love. Learn how to do it well, enjoy it and give it your all. I really love what I do and that makes all the difference," says Ketcham.


  • Calgary Stampede Bounces Back by Going Bigger
    Many fairs cut budgets off a soft year, reflecting the realities of decreased attendance and fairgoer spending. Calgary Stampede took the opposite approach - more marketing, increased promotions and expanded programming - and the pay off was a bounce back in attendance, higher revenue and a stronger than ever Canadian outdoor event.

    Attendance Increase
    "Our final attendance number for the year was 1,214,972," said Danielle Savoni, Public Relations Manager, Community Engagement and Communications. "This beats last year by more than 125,000 guests. For us at the Stampede, it's not about the numbers, it's about the guest experience and our guest experience polls were very high this year, which we are really happy about. We had a lot of new programming. Our music was bigger than ever, we had awesome headliners and we are a major music festival in the region." 

    She added, "We broke a record on our first Friday with 115,235 guests visiting us on July 7. This means we had more visitors on Park than our centennial year in 2012 of 108,455. It was a really exciting day and we are happy the community joined us on Park to help us kick off the Stampede this year."

    One undeniable piece of evidence indicating the bounce back year put the Stampede back on track could be seen on the midway by NAME (North American Midway Entertainment), which not only beat last year but according to Scooter Korek, Vice President of Client Services, NAME., came within 1 percent of an all time record. 

    "We had some rain on a Monday morning, and if we didn't have that we would have broken that record," said Korek. He added that for the five year average, the midway was up 3 percent in 2017.

    This fair industry veteran said that what distinguishes this event in the industry is an extraordinary level of community support. "The Calgary Stampede is unique for all the fairs in North America in terms of the amount of community support they get," he said. "It is phenomenal, they have a culture in that community that really supports this fair. The success of this fair lies with the residents of the area, it's incredible how they turn out for the fair."

    The NAME midway featured 58 rides, the same sized footprint as last year. The new addition was a new Dragon Coaster, the ever popular family ride. The company received the delivery of this equipment in June and Korek said that Calgary Stampede was only the second midway to showcase the new piece. Top rides at the fair were the Giant Wheel, Polar Express, Outlaw Roller Coaster, Crazy Mouse Roller coaster and Niagara Falls Flume. 

    The near-record breaking midway was in part due to a somewhat improving economy, said Korek. "Oil is doing better this year and there is renewed hope in the Canadian economy," he said. 

    One  indication that the Canadian economy is on the upswing was that "our livestock auction was up 5 percent," said Savoni. "That is a great sign that the economy is improving compared to last year.

    But the main factor driving the comeback for the Calgary Stampede in 2017 was the fair organizers' commitment to their product. "The Calgary Stampede is fearless," said Korek. "Instead of cutting their budget after a bad year, they improved their programming, expanded their concert line up and instituted very aggressive discounts and promotions." He added, "they kind of rolled the dice, and the gamble won."

    New SuperPass
    The most effective promotion was new, a Super Pass that enabled unlimited free admission and unlimited rides for the entire run of the fair. This new promotion successfully encouraged return visits to the fair. "We saw a lot of people return to the midway, the kids were wearing different colored bracelets like a kind of badge of honor."

    Other successful discounted days included Cenovus Family Day, BMO Kids Day, Canada 150 Day, Parade Day, but the Super Pass stood out. " We had numerous successful promotions as well as our special days were very well received," said Savoni. "This year was the first time we offered the SuperPass and the community support was tremendous. This was a program the Stampede was happy to offer to the community - giving our guests the chance to visit as many times as they wanted and not have to cram every experience all into one day."

    Clever marketing of the pass also emphasized the abundance of activities at the event. According to Savoni, the marketing theme for the pass was "Because you can't do it all in one day. We knew we had tons of music, tons different things to do, that you can't cram it all into visit to the fair. So we offered the unlimited entry, with all the beats, all the eats, all the lights, All the nights.

    Other advertising for the fair echoed this concept of lots to do, but emphasized the customization of the fair to suit specific demographics. "We had a more general promotion, that used the tagline, 'find your stampede thing." We used different images of the stampede. Some people come to try the food, some people come to hear the music, some people come to the rodeo. Basically we wanted people to find their own reason to come to the stampede."

    Social media usage also saw a significant spike. "Social media at the Calgary Stampede has become an important part of our guest services information channels," she said. "Inquiries on our social media pages were higher in 2017 than ever before."

    150th Anniversary
    The most successful single day promotion directly appealed to Canadian patriotic pride. On July 11th - known as Canada Day - our neighbor to the north celebrated its 150th anniversary, which was the  sesquicentennial anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.

    "It was a very special day, with programming that was all Canadian," said Savoni. We had interactive events, it was a real celebration of Canadian culture, which is part of the whole western theme of the stampede We had a fully Canadian show in our grandstands and Canadian inspired food for sale. It was one of biggest park-wide events ever."

    The fair also produced the TransAlta Grandstand show, which Savoni described as a one-of-a-kind, grand production that you can only see at the Stampede. In 2017 we had more performers on stage than ever before, including Canadian Icon Jann Arden as the host."

    Entitled Together, this TransAlta Grandstand Show was produced by Dave Pierce, Emmy Award winning producer for Outstanding Music Direction for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. "The Olympic ceremonies set a benchmark for showcasing Canada," said Pierce. "Together will be the biggest, most visually spectacular show yet, an extravaganza not to be missed - made right here at home just for the Calgary Stampede." 

    Including such Canadian performers as the Alberta Ballet, The Young Canadians, Calgary's adult choir Revv52, Inuit throat singers, Cailyn DeGrandpre and Samantha Kigutaq, pre-stampede publicity stated: "Together celebrates our nation's exciting past, present and future by honoring Canada's unique mosaic of culture and nature."

    The entire Stampede featured more than 60 artists, on its stages, including Usher, Brooks & Dunn, Alessia Cara, Sabrina Carpenter, USS, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. "We had our biggest line-up ever this year, with over 60 artists across two stages over the 10 days of Stampede.

    Being a ride-oriented, western heritage event, country music had a major presence. The Calgary Stampede augmented its Nashville North program with an ongoing country music programing - Nashville Nights - which featured hot country stars as Chad Brownlee; Aaron Goodvin; The Dungarees; Endless Summer; Neal McCoy; The Cadillac Three; Cam; The Dead South; Jess Moskaluke; Doc Walker; Cold Creek County ;JoJo Mason; Chris Buck Band; Meghan Patrick and Tanya Ryan  "Nashville North is the party destination and a great place on Stampede Park to kick-back with a cold drink and dance the night away," explained Samara Lastiwka, production manager at the Calgary Stampede. "We're introducing a different and exciting reason to celebrate every night and combining that with the hottest country artists Stampede partier's have come to expect at Nashville North," added Lastiwka.

    Stampede Cuisine
    The Calgary Stampede had 171 food vendors. According to Savoni, some of new unusual food items were: Crispy chicken feet on a stick; Deep fried Jell-O and Metre long sausage.
    The Stampede also conducts a "Take a Bite Outta Stampede," with the winner being the Funnel Cake Poutine by Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cakes, "A Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake with a Canadian twist - cheese and gravy," she said. 

    The Stampede added a new food category where Best Vegetarian dish on the Stampede Midway was determined. "We recruited a panel of vegetarians to help us find the winner," she said, adding that the winner was "The Vegetarian Wrap from Wrap Daddy's. Made of fresh veggies, a vegetable-based protein made of corn, rice and oats, and a tomato-based salsa made fresh every morning, if you hold the sour cream and cheese, it then becomes a vegan-friendly option as well."  

    The fair also judged best corn dogs, pizza, BBQ and a nod to the growth of a new food vendor category, Best Food Truck. " In a very close race, Chow Wagon's Polish Poutine edged out the competition to win Best Food Truck 2017," she said

    Food at the stampede is not constrained by preconceptions of outdoor event cuisine, "We have a lot of foodies coming to the stampede. We have traditional fair foods, but we has expand what we offer."  she added.

    In addition, a returning event was the Kitchen Theater , featuring cooking events, demonstrations and competitions. One event showcased renowned Canadian chef, Christine Cushing, Other Kitchen Theater  events included: Dueling Chefs Competition;  Cowboy Cook-off;  and Police and Firefighter Cook-off. "We are beyond thrilled to have Christine Cushing host an exclusive event at Kitchen Theatre," said Pam Conlin, marketing coordinator, Western Showcase at the Calgary Stampede. "We also have a number of other new and returning events happening at Kitchen Theater that are sure to be crowd pleasers for culinary food lovers." 

  • All Around Amusements adds new rides & support equipment for 2017
    All Around Amusements focuses on keeping their show stocked with the most updated support equipment and newest rides possible. "I would rate my show #1 in the Chicago area. I stay ahead of the competition by rotating the newest rides and equipment into my show. I am dedicated to building and maintaining a 1st rate show," says Robert Salerno, All Around's Owner.

    This year, Salerno has invested in lots of new equipment and amenities for All Around Amusements. Ride-wise, Salerno has purchased 2 new ferris wheels from the Czech Republic: a 50ft wheel and a 72ft wheel. Additionally, Salerno has purchased a new Flying Bobs ride from Wisdom that will be racked on 1 trailer ride: the first of its kind from the manufacturer. 

    Salerno is planning to debut the new-style Flying Bobs ride, nicknamed "Fast and Furious" in Gibtown. 

    Salerno has also ordered a new food trailer that will be ready for the start of next season as well as a complete set of park benches, new ticket boxes, and new ATMs. He also purchased a new bunkhouse from Recreation By Design in order to house his H2B employees. All Around Amusements was fortunate to gain H2B laborers this year. Salerno currently has 20 H2B visa employees on his show, up from the 15 he had last season. 

    Salerno values his employees and works hard to keep them motivated so that his show can continue to grow and improve. "My employees are not afraid to work hard and stay organized especially when they are incentivized," says Salerno. 

    He currently has an incentive program in place that rewards employees for increased revenue with the opportunity to earn a $25 daily bonus. "I average about $250 a day in bonus money and I'm happy to pay employees top dollar for good work," says Salerno. Through the use of his incentive program and help of dedicated employees, Salerno is able to move his whole show in under 4 hours. His ability to move quickly and safely while keeping the most modernized equipment on his show keeps his event partners happy. 

    All Around Amusements' route travels through Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  Two weeks ago, All Around Amusements played Fiesta Del Sol, the 2nd largest Hispanic festival in the nation which draws a crowd of around 1.2 million over the four days of the festival. "The committee is a dream to work with. We have formed a very good, respectful relationship over my years playing the festival," says Salerno. 

    After Fiesta Del Sol All Around Amusements was split into two units temporarily in order to play a county fair in Wisconsin and a church festival in Chicago. 

    Due to the recent accident at the Ohio State Fair involving a Fireball ride, Salerno has ran into a bit of a dilemma with his KMG Freak Out. Proceeding the accident, the state of Illinois decided to suspend the usage of Freak Out rides in addition to Fireball rides and Technical Park Street Fighters until the investigation into the Ohio State Fair accident was complete.  This took all Illinois Freak Out rides out of service for approximately one week.

    While All Around Amusements was split into two units, his Freak Out Ride was booked separately in Michigan with Bill Skerbeck. According to Salerno, the Freak Out is one of his higher grossing rides and to not be able to put it up at his spots is an unfortunate turn of events. "I am grateful to have the opportunity to book the Freak Out with Bill. He's a very good, respectable man and I enjoy working with him," says Salerno. 

    However, Salerno was dedicated to getting his Freak Out ride up and running on his own route again very soon. He worked in unison with other showmen who were affected by the suspension in order to get the equipment running again in Illinois for the rest of the season. KMG put out a notice asking Fireball rides through serial # 39 be grounded as well as Spin Out rides, but Freak Outs, which are manufactured differently were excluded, yet Illinois chose to suspend the ride from operating temporarily.

    Salerno made a car analogy to show his frustration. "Imagine there is a recall or accident with a Corolla, you would expect the government to ground Corollas and any car that had the same issue but you wouldn't expect them to ground all Toyota cars on the road. That's essentially what is happening here", said Salerno.

    Fortunately, as of August 1, The State Of Illinois announced they would be lifting the suspension on Freak Outs pending NDT testing and re-inspection of each ride.

    Currently, All Around Amusements has a 5 acre winter quarters in Illinois but Salerno has recently purchased a new 7.5 acre spot with buildings so that he can keep his new equipment sheltered throughout the off-season. 

    He is currently in the process of creating a 60ft by 20ft state of the art spray paint booth to be used in the off season. Salerno got most of his inspiration for his new winter-quarters set up from Corky Powers. "I really admire Corky Powers' operation (Powers Great American Midways). I got a chance to see his warehouse and it gave me incentive to work harder and achieve more in this business. I want my show to be state of the art and second to none," says Salerno. 

    At the beginning of next season, All Around Amusements aims to have 3 food trailers and around 30 rides; this way the show can split into two units permanently if necessary. Salerno's main goal is to grow into two fully operation units: one for his son and one for his daughter. Currently, Salerno relies on the help of his wife, his daughter, and his 5 operating managers to help keep All Around Amusements a top-notch, competitive show. 

    Salerno has been in the business for over 35 years. He started out working on his dad's show. But, when his dad wouldn't give him a raise, he moved out on his own and got another job, saved up his money, and eventually bought out a show called Glory Amusements. He then continued acquiring more rides to continue growing his show. 

    Salerno says that his father was always teaching him life lessons when he was growing up that he just wasn't old enough to appreciate at the time. "at a young age, I did not understand why my father charged me $25 a week to live in his house. But then I moved out and realized how much it costs to live on your own. I know now that my dad was teaching me you have to spend some money to get ahead and I am thankful to this day that he taught me that valuable lesson," says Salerno. 

    Family is of the utmost importance to Salerno. He is close with his extended family, who own Windy City Amusements, they visit each other's shows and are always willing to lend a helping hand to each other when they need it. "I know that I will make money in my life, but my wife and children are my blessings and the only reason I've made it this far in my life," says Salerno. 

    Outside of All Around Amusements Salerno does snow plowing, landscaping, and construction work but he says the carnival is hands down his favorite job. "It can be hard work and thankless at times but when you see the whole picture and the smiling faces of the guests it's all worth it," says Salerno.

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HEADLINES from the web
Poor Jack Amusements
Poor Jack Amusements 2017 Season
4/21/2017 - 10/7/2017
Wade Shows
Missouri State Fair
Sedalia, MO
8/10/2017 - 8/20/2017
Deggeller Attractions
Prince William County Fair
Manassas, VA
8/11/2017 - 8/19/2017
Reithoffer Shows
State Fair of West Virginia
Lewisburg, WV
8/11/2017 - 8/20/2017
Reithoffer Shows
Delaware Co Fair
Walton, NY
8/14/2017 - 8/19/2017
Deggeller Attractions
Rockingham County Fair
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8/14/2017 - 8/19/2017
Wade Shows
Berrien County Youth Fair
Berrien Springs, MI
8/14/2017 - 8/19/2017

IAAPA Attractions Expo - Orlando, FL
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Annual IAFE Convention and Trade Show - Paris Hotel - Las Vegas, NV
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I.I.S.F. Gibtown Extravaganza - Gibsonton, FL
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2016 TOP 50 FAIRS
1. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
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View Top 50 Fairs
The Industry Buzz
Patricia Bohlander Passes
Patricia L. Bohlander, age 85, of Milton, Indiana, passed away Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at Reid Hospital in Richmond, Indiana after a brief illness. She was born on December 20, 1931 in Abington, IN to Cecil and Evelyn (Hamm) Wilson and had lived all her life in the Wayne County area.

Pat was a 1950 graduate of Milton High School. She was a member and deaconess of the Milton Christian Church, CWF, and In and Around Home Economics Club. In 1966 she and her late husband, Jack, established and operated Poor Jack Amusements, Indiana's largest family owned carnival. She was a member of the Outdoor Amusement Business of America, and the Showmen's League of America, the St. Louis, and Chicago Chapters.

She is survived by two sons, Gary (Kerry Ruth) and Tim (Christy) Bohlander both of Cambridge City, Indiana; three daughters, Nancy (Perry) Frost of Hagerstown, Kelly Bohlander (Roger Robinson) and Becky (Brandon) Nieukirk both of Cambridge City; a sister, Linda (Murel) Clark; thirteen grandchildren; fifteen great-grandchildren; several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Besides her parents she was preceded in death by her husband Jack Bohlander in 1997.

Funeral services will be at Waskom Capitol Hill Chapel in Cambridge City on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 12:00 noon with Scott Moistner officiating. Burial will follow in Westside Cemetery in Milton, IN. Friends may call at the funeral home on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and on Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. until start of services at noon.

Memorial contributions may be made to Milton Christian Church.
Online condolences to

  Posted by Obituary on 8/16/2017
2017 Wisconsin State Fair Photo Gallery

To view photos from the 2017 Wisconsin State Fair, please check out the MCW official photo gallery.  Click here to view.  Posted by Matt Cook on 8/10/2017
North Carolina to require NDT Testing on all Tubular Steel Structures

The North Carolina Department of Labor issued a memo to all amusement device owners stating that effective 8/14/17, all owners of amusement devices designed with tubular steel components such as sweeps, structural supports, or tubular steel used in directed connection to passenger carriers, are required to be tested for structural defects by a certified nondestructive company.  This requirement will be conducted annually in addition to what is required by the manufacturer of record for all devices having tubular steel components in its design.
Owners of devices meeting this design description shall take steps to have their devices testes before they will be certified to operate in the state of North Carolina.  Owners shall present testing results to the NCDOL Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau when completed and prior to set up in the state of North Carolina.

  Posted by NCDOL Press Release on 8/2/2017
Rides Re-Open at Ohio State Fair
Rides on the Amusements of America main midway and kiddieland have been re-inspected and reopened as of Sunday afternoon.  As rides began to operate Sunday, Amusements of America issued the following statement:

"The decision to shut down similar rides around the world and reopen the Ohio midway indicates that this is an issue with a specific ride and not the ride operator or inspectors. There is no evidence that operator error played a role in the accident. We continue to keep those affected by this tragic accident in our prayers and work cooperatively with the ongoing investigation."

As expected, attendance at the fair was down following the accident, however, bounced back on Saturday with an increase of 1,252 patrons over 2016.  

Day 1 / Wednesday: 
2017: 44,996
2016: 43,161 

Day 2 / Thursday:
2017: 35,902
2016: 49,499

Day 3 / Friday:
2017: 42,403
2016: 57,585

Day 4 / Saturday: 
2017: 100,228
2016: 98,976

  Posted by Matt Cook on 7/31/2017
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.


AMUSEMENTS OF AMERICA IS NOW HIRING & BOOKING for the 2017 season!  Employment Inquiries call 
Dominic:  (732) 446-7144 and for 

Concession Boing call 
Rob:  (732) 337-7748

FOOD & GAME HELP WANTED FOR  TOP NOTCH midwest spring route followed by a GREAT summer route in Wisconsin.   Call Louie Rucobo at 920-251-3001.  Living quarters available and TOP EMPLOYEES GET TOP PAY!


SONSHINE AMUSEMENTS is hiring help for the 2017 season!  Start immediately!  Work in MO throughout the summer months and southern states during the fall, spring, and winter.  Help wanted for Rides, Games, Food and much more!  Call Ashley at 205-999-3811.

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