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  • Pennsylvania Fair Convention Reports:  New Fairs and a Top 50 Event
    2/19/2018
    Lackawanna County Fair 

    The Lackawanna County Fair is a new fair starting in 2019; it will be held the first weekend of June, Wednesday through Saturday in Northeastern Pennsylvania. According to one of the fair organizers, Jim Rodway, Lackawanna has never had a fair so it is getting support from the county commissioner's office and the visitor's bureau. "The Lackawanna County Fair will be more of an eclectic, heritage fair. We have a lot of different ethnic backgrounds in our area and we want them all to be recognized and represented," says Rodway. 

    The County owns the amphitheater in the area and will hold the fair in the parking lot. Rodway says they are currently working with Live Nation which books shows into the amphitheater to get some big name acts to perform during the inaugural Lackawanna County Fair. Near the amphitheater, there is a AAA baseball field and the county plans to use that parking lot for any overflow parking needed during the fair. 

    Representatives from the Lackawanna County Fair organizers group attended the Pennsylvania Association of County Fairs Convention to continue planning their fair. Currently, they do not have a carnival and are in search of one which was part of their business at the convention. Rodway says they're also at the convention to look at potential acts and learn as much as they can about running a successful fair. "We're planning to get it off the ground and do it right," says Rodway.


    Mountain Area Fair 

    The Mountain Area Fair held in Farmington, Pennsylvania has a unusual structure compared to other fairs. The gate admission is free but there are paid arena events throughout the fair. Last year, the Mountain Area Fair Board decided to move their dates from August to June and that proved to be a good choice according to Fair Board President, Tom Murray. 

    The fair is a week long. Last year the arena schedule was diverse and all shows had good attendance. On Sunday, they hosted a car show, Tuesday was a midget wrestling show, Wednesday was a demolition derby, Thursday they had monster trucks for the first time, Friday there were truck pulls in the arena and on Saturday they had another demolition derby. Lamb Enterprises has provided carnival rides to the Mountain Area Fair for about 18 years. Rides are free for kids 14 and under. 

    The Mountain Area Fair is governed by an all volunteer board of seven people. The property on which the fair is held is owned by the fire department; board members must have been a firefighter prior to joining the board. All proceeds from the fair go to supporting the fire department. Concessions throughout the fair are not booked in as they are at many other fairs. Instead, there are four permanent kitchens built on the grounds which are staffed by volunteers throughout the fair. 

    Tom Murray has been the President of the board for 18 years now but has participated in planning the fair for a much longer period of time. The fire department gives an award of lifetime membership once a person has served on the board for 25 consecutive years and Murray was just given his award last year. 

    Murray and another representative from the Mountain Area Fair came to the Pennsylvania Association of County Fairs Convention to look at entertainment and attend educational seminars. While at the convention they booked a mechanical bull and invited Jennifer's chainsaw carving act back to the fair for a second year. 

    York Fair 

    The York Fair had a great year in 2017 and is gearing up for an even better 2018 according to York Fair General Manager, Mike Froehlich. 2017's fair attendance was 565,483 people compared to 2016's 555,252. Additionally, food sales are up 5% over the previous year. "Our concessionaires and especially our local concessionaires worked very hard and were happy with this year's sales," says Froehlich. 

    New for 2017, the fair featured an Agricultural Education Center which showcased agricultural aspects such as information about plants, animals, and other agricultural commodities. Froehlich says the program was very successful especially the animal education portion.

    "We had a fantastic grandstand lineup again this year. The Thomas Rhett concert was very close to selling out," says Froelich. For the first time, The York Fair had a monster truck show in front of the grandstand. There were two shows and they both were extremely well-attended, according to Froehlich. 

    The York Fairgrounds and Expo Center has its own fire station which they re-dedicated this year as York Fair Fire Station 51. The Junior Livestock sale at the fair had a record year with $258,000 in sales. "The livestock sale proceeds were substantially increased from 2016," says Froehlich. 

    Currently, the York County Agricultural Society which is the governing body of the York Fair and the York Expo Center, is finishing up a strategic business plan for the Fair and Expo Center. The Agricultural Society will share it's plan and recommendations in February. 

    Froehlich and the rest of the fair staff are already planning for the 2018 fair. For the first time, the fair will feature community entertainment in 2018. "It will be a 50' x 120' tent with a stage, sound, lighting, and seating. We will use it to showcase local community talent such as school music groups.  We want a variety of types of entertainment and we hope it will reflect the community," says Froehlich. The fair staff expects it to be very popular. Also for 2018, the Agricultural Education Program will see an expansion because of the success it had at the fair's 2017 edition. 

  • IISF Trade Show:  Lamberink Introduces New One Trailer Giant Wheel
    2/16/2018
    There were several wheels at the trade show from various manufacturers but one company in particular has been making a splash building Giant Wheels for a long time.  Lamberink, builder of the largest portable wheel now on display at the Florida State Fair and owned by Michael Wood and Frank Zaitshik, has plans to build a smaller version of the wheel for the U.S. market.     
        
    The Lamberink RL22 Wheel will stand 72 feet tall and be easy to set up and tear down according to the company.  Lamberink is currently in negotiations with several US carnivals, with the goal of securing three contracts for the wheel.  The introductory offer will save the first 3 companies about 50,000 Euro on the ride.       

    "We're currently under negotiations with three US customers to make a package deal for this wheel" said Peter Theunisz, sales representative for the company.  "We will sell 3 pf these wheels to customers at a special price which will save them quite a bit of money", he added.

    The Lamberink RL22 wheel can be set up in 4 hours by 3 trained people. The trailer will be leveled hydraulically and the towers and platforms will also be raised with hydraulic rams. There will be a winch to mount the 16 gondolas to the wheel.

    Another benefit will include a generator to be installed on the semi-trailer so the wheel can be used as a stand alone ride for a festival or so it can begin setup if generator power is not yet available. The generator can be used for both set up/teardown and operation. The semi-trailer is road legal and weighs approximately 64,000 lbs.

    The wheel will have a full RGB LED lighting package on the front and back, LEDs on the gondolas, rim and towers. The wheel will be equipped with 4 drives that each has it's own frequency drive on it.

    The drives are fully automatic and work with a pre-programmed loading system. The software knows when to stop to unload and load the gondolas. You can unload and load 3 gondolas at the time. The loading system helps to increase efficiency of operation for the ride.

    The platform and deck of the semi-trailer can have either aluminum planks or as a premium option, composite panels that will give the wheel a more ornate look.

    Lamberink was able to secure two contracts for the 22m model and they are looking for one more buyer to begin construction.  The initial price for the wheel is approximately $860,000 usd, which includes all the bells and whistles. The first Lamberink RL22 wheel is scheduled to be delivered during the IISF Trade Show next year.

    PWS RIDES

    PWS, an English manufacturer, stirred some controversy by bringing  a Twist ride, themed Sizzler to the show.  The company was served by Wisdom in an effort to enforce its trademark on the Sizzler ride.

    Despite the legal battling, the company sold the Twist Ride, themed Sizzler, to a show in the Virgin Islands.  They also sold 7 of the mini paratrooper rides to shows in the USA including All Around Amusements and Powers Great American Midways.

    EQUIPMENT SOLUTIONS INTERNATIONAL AND AMERICAN STANDARD TRAILER

    Steve Lisko, Jr. and his son, Steve Lisko, III, have been moonlighting from their show, Premium Shows of America, and moved into the ride business.  

    When Lisko was searching for parts for his Italian-made kiddie train, he went overseas and met several manufacturers.  They began discussion about Lisko becoming a US representative and wound up making a deal with the company just for the train rides.  

    Lisko liked the train because it had 8 guide wheels instead of the 4 normally found on train rides.  The rides also come with beautiful paint and fiberglass.  Some of the trains even have screens to play cartoons while the ride is running.  

    Lisko sold a horse train to F & G in California, Bobby Brinkley bought a circus train and the Dinosaur train was on display at the show and still available.  The show special price for the trains was $70,000.

    Lisko, who is representing the company in both sales and parts, said new orders take about 1.5 to 2 months for delivery.

    Lisko has not just been busy with ride sales however.  When talking with Kelly Weaver about the need for bunkhouses, he thought there might be a niche opportunity in the market.  

    Lisko and Weaver found a partner to build the trailers and the pair came up with a design based upon their years of experience in the industry.  They believe they bring some affordable innovations to the market such as a bunkhouse with a kitchen on the end which has been popular. 

    Each bunkhouse is custom built to the purchaser's specifications and can include showers and double or single rooms.  They recently built a trailer for a Virgin Islands customer wanted 4 people to a room stacked in bunks.

    Lisko's regular gig running Premium Shows of America from February to December each year in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania, still takes up the majority of his time.  The 25 ride show takes a lot of time and effort to keep on the road.

    Lisko said he expanded for several reasons, including giving a business opportunity to his son, Steve III, and diversifying his business interests.

    When he was in Italy, quite a few Italian manufacturers approached Lisko about US representation.  After he inked the deal with the train manufacturer, he exhibited at the IAAPA Trade Show in Orlando for the first time this past November.  He drew some interest and sold two rides at that show. Coupled with some success in Gibtown, he is well on his way to a successful new career as a ride sales representative.  

    Based upon his recent success, Lisko is looking to go back to Italy soon and renew some of his initial conversations with Italian manufacturers.  He's hoping the new opportunity will blossom into a great new business for his family.  



  • IISF Trade Show Concludes on a High Note
    2/14/2018
    The 50th edition of the IISA Trade Show ended with more of a whimper than a bang as vendors began packing their wares and heading for home ahead of the show's close.  Many were around making some last minute deals and talking with customers and friend but it seems no matter what day the show ends, the last day will always see people looking to leave early.
     
    KMG & New Rides Europe

    In KMG News, a new Inversion is scheduled to be delivered to Larry and Kim Sankowsky of Armco Thrill Zone this summer. Skerbeck Entertainment will be getting the next Speed this summer with the same bells and whistles as the one on display in Gibtown, but minus the back wall scenery.  Additionally, Butler Amusements took delivery of a new Speed this week in California.
     
    Bill Prescott's Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach has a 46m Lambrink Wheel that has shipped and will be set up in March. The ride replaces the RL33 wheel that was temporarily in place and has closed gondolas, LED lighting, stainless steel fencing, a state of the art computerized loading and operating system. The ride stands next to the shopping center to give riders a great view over the Myrtle Beach area and it's shoreline.  Prescott also took delivery of a KMG Discovery,  themed Tsunami, that will be installed during the same time. They are also installing a KMG XXL Pendulum ride which, standing 147 feet in the air, will swing riders high in the sky.  The ride has a capacity of 20 people.
     
    KMG has designed a new ride that they are hoping will follow in the the success of some of their recent ride products.  The Surf Ride has a 16 person capacity ad travels one semi-trailer, with a setup time of only 30 minutes.   
     
    The Surf ride will have an LED (RGB) lighting package included in the base model and it runs on 400V/125A/80kw.  The overall weight will be approximately 44,000 lbs.  The ride occupies a foorprint of approximately 50' x 30'.
     
    With only 2 people required for setup, the ride, like others manufactured by KMG, will be easy to move.  The process leveling of the semi-trailer, lowering of the platforms and raising the counter weights are all hydraulically controlled. 

    The Surf has two vertical towers, each with a revolving arm.  The two arms hold a horizontal platform, all on one trailer.  On the platform, two rotating gondolas, carrying 8 passengers each (sitting  2 x 4 back to back) rotate with electrical motors.  The revolutions can be adjusted by the operator or pre-programmed with an automated motion.  The platform and gondolas always stay upright.  The platform doesn't go upside down.
     
    The ride is designed for adults and children with a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.  Riders enter from the front side and leave the ride from the back. There is an option of adding a (backdrop) instead of having a platform. The first ride will be delivered in Summer 2018.

    Rides 4 U

    Rides 4 U, a staple of the trade show with multiple rides on location, had a very good year at the show.  Owner Len Soled said the company along with New Rides Europe sold a Freak Out to Triple Treat Shows' Jay Clements for a 2020 delivery. After displaying in Gibtown, Triple Treat will debut the ride at Thunder Over Louisville . "We've been hoping to buy one the last few years," said Clements.  After picking up some new events, he felt the show is in a better position to make the purchase.  
     
    This will be the first KMG ride purchased by Triple Treat Shows and it will have a completely different color scheme than any other Freak Out. The ride will have RGB LED lights, hydraulic jacks, hydraulic rams for unfolding the platforms, 2 signs with RGB LEDs on the service platforms, stainless steel fencing, stainless steel electrical boxes and signs with LED lighting on each outrigger. 
     
    Soled also sold a SBF kiddie pirate ship ride themed Puppy Love to Deb and Tracy Elliott of Michigan based Elliott's Amusements.
     
    Two more customers were considering trailer mounted mini break dance rides, although at the close of the trade show, a official deal had not been made.
     
    "The show was good overall", said Soled.  Reflecting on the sales cycle in this day and age, Soled said there was more of a year-round buying season this past year.  He noted that while he sold a half dozen rides during the show, a lot happens right before the show . He noted the H2B situation is also having an effect on buying.  Shows are afraid they won't have the help to operate their equipment so some carnival owners are being more cautious before pulling the trigger.

     
    Wisdom Rides
     
    The Wisdom team talked with a lot of people at the show and many showed interest in the company's new Y-Factor thrill ride.  Vic Wisdom noted that people were shocked by the 45 minute setup time of the Y-Factor. They also seem to like the narrow space required because it swings over the midway.  Wisdom is hoping the conversations it had in Gibtown will soon turn into orders.  The Y-Factor on display will be delivered to James Gang Amusements.
     
    Wisdom is also busy building another prototype, a Flying Bobs style attraction themed as Fast and Furious for Robert Salerno's All Around Amusements. Wisdom is closing in on getting it finished and delivered soon. The ride will be a easy to move one trailer ride that will have a big impact on a show. The Wisdoms have worked closely with Robert throughout the production and design of the ride and appreciate him placing his confidence in the Wisdom family on the new design.  "Robert has been very good to work with," echoed Vic Wisdom. The Fast and Furious uses a similar car to the one truck Himalaya so that the cars rack properly. "It's very tight inside the trailer when everything is folded up" says Vic.
     
    Wisdom served UK manufacturer PWS rides a legal notice at the trade show for copyright infringement on the Sizzler name. Wisdom says the Sizzler ride has been trademarked since 1973. The patent on the ride has expired, but the trademark is still in effect. They are suing PWS rides for trademark infringement. "Wisdom has built a couple hundred Sizzler rides over 45 years and we want to protect our reputation" said Mai Wisdom . According to Wisdom, the rides in England were called other names until they brought one to the USA.
     
     
    Rhode Island Novelty
     
    The company reported traffic was about the same as last year for them and the quality of the customer was good. "We see a lot of our customers and most are in a buying mood, despite the warm temperatures of the inside exhibitors area. It was a great working vacation for us", said Jeremy Pomfret of Rhode Island Novelty.
     
    Looking ahead to the 2018 season, he said Paw Patrol stock is very hot. Flip sequin snakes are also very popular, a design that came from the fashion industry. The Dino line is hot with a new Jurassic World movie coming out this summer. Another non licensed item that has been doing well are the company's Hamsters.
     
    Stay tuned for Part II of our wrap up story Friday.


    2018 IISF Trade Show Coverage





  • Thursday Highlights from the IISF Trade Show in Gibtown
    2/9/2018
    The third day of the 50th annual IISF Trade Show and Extravaganza was another bright, sunny day with temperatures hovering close to 80 degrees.  Traffic seemed steady but relatively light, close to the patterns of Wednesday.  Thursday was also the opening of the Florida State Fair and many vendors and operators were busy with getting ready for opening day.      

    Kolmax Continues with Large Outdoor Display
        
    Czech Manufacturer Kolmax Plus again had a big presence at the show.  For the last several years, the company has made great gains in the United States, starting with its Flying Elephant ride and expanding into wheels, Scooters, Tea Cups, Carousels, and other attractions.  The company had six rides on display at the show and company CEO Rudolf Kamenicky reported a brisk business.  

    Kolmax has been  manufacturing rides for the past 30 years in Europe, where they have a proven track record and well known name.  His first ride was a Scat ride but his breakthrough ride was the Miami.  The company has sold 136 models of that ride.  Once they broke into the US market, the carnivals here began to see that the company could deliver on the product, provide good customer service and "go above and beyond" for its customers, according to Kamenicky.

    Asked about the sudden influx of other Eastern European manufacturers including several from the Czech Republic, Kamenicky said his company was the "first to blaze the trail, we made it easy for the others."  He said potential customers should still do research on the manufacturer and not just rely on price so as not to be disappointed, noting his company has a proven track record in the US.  

    On display at the show were the company's Carousel, Scooter, Wheel, Dragon Wagon, Tea Cups and Train ride.   On Thursday, a Flying Elephant Ride, sold to Ray Cammack Shows and a Ferris Wheel were being set up at the show after a delay at the US shipping port.  Kamenicky is leveling three new ride concepts, some of which he hopes to bring to market for the IAAPA trade show in Orlando this November.  

    The first ride is similar to the Miami but with a new drive system.  Gone will be the two large wheel turning the ride, replaced with a new proprietary design he believes will revolutionize the Miami concept.  The second is a swinging plane ride that is a family-friendly piece and the final ride is yet unnamed but similar to a Tea Cup ride.  The attraction will have three separate movements, all spinning options.  First, the tub itself will spin, next the platform the tub is built on will spin and finally, the ride's turntable will also spin.  The ride will boast 8 large cars fitting up to 4 adults.  

    The company brought along Jack Souijee to the show, a technical advisor to the company for the last five years and formerly a KMG sales representative.


    Lifetime Trailers Offers a Full Line of Heavy Duty Bunk Houses and Expands Its Gibsonton Based Manufacturing Facilities

    Lifetime Trailers is an American company that has also seen great success over the past several years.  The heavy duty, "no wood" design which weighs only 13,500 lbs., has been a hit in the carnival market, with many companies purchasing multiple models. 

    On display in Gibtown was a model built for Kaitlin DeStefano of Dreamland Amusements, a NAME bunkhouse and a unit for Campy's Blue Star Amusements.  

    Also getting a lot of looks was the company's new guest relations trailer built for NAME in late 2017.  NAME use the trailer at a fair in the fall then Otterbacher  took the piece to IAAPA in November in Orlando and then to the show in Gibtown.  

    The guest relations trailer is 14' x 8', sturdy, waterproof and equipped with nice amenities such as heaters, roll chairs and cabinets for paper storage.  Otterbacher was receiving quite a bit of interest in the new trailer and they were hoping to write some new orders in the near future.  

    Gary and Karen Otterbacher were proud to welcome son Nick to the company over the past couple of years.   

    Nick Otterbacher was a college football player and later a college coach, working most recently at the University of Missouri as a recruiter.    While the coaching jobs were exciting, in order to move up the ranks, you have to be able to move around and Otterbacher was tiring of moving so often and began thinking about joining the family business.  

    A phone call back home to his father with an expression of interest in the company resulted in a simple "Come on Down" from his father.  

    At the time, Lifetime had just moved into a new facility in order to expand output.  Otterbacher took the reins to move into the new place and plan and organize its opening and operation.

    The expansion took the company from producing 1 - 1.5 trailers at a time to up to 5 trailers at a time at the new facility.  As business continued to grow, the new factory is undergoing an additional expansion to again increase the factory's output if needed.  The company has began to slowly move into building other products including ticket boxes and benches.  Otterbacher said he hopes the company will continue to expand int he future, building more lines of products as the demand arises.  They will be able to expand by building more bunkhouses or moving into new product lines.

    Otterbacher is comfortable with his decision to move back into the family business and he hopes to work alongside his parents to grow the company.  As the person in charge of the shop, he has taken on the responsibility of increasing efficiency and value to the customer. 

    Otterbacher said he is constantly learning and improving on his manufacturing process.  The company recently introduced a new custom King Pin Hitch for its trailers.  Lifetime builds its own boxes for the King Pin.  Otterbacher also swears by his mattresses, claiming the his top of the line offering is the best in the business.  

    With a long history of quality trailer manufacturing in his family, Nick Otterbacher is looking to make his own mark on the carnival industry.

    Stay tuned for coverage of the final day of the 50th IISF Trade Show and Extravaganza and continuing coverage of the Florida State Fair.



    2018 IISF Trade Show Coverage







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Florida State Fair
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2/8/2018 - 2/19/2018
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2/8/2018 - 2/25/2018
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2/19/2018 - 2/25/2018
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3/6/2018 - 3/11/2018
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3/8/2018 - 3/25/2018
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1. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
2. Texas State Fair - Dallas, TX
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5. San Diego County Fair - Del Mar, CA

View Top 50 Fairs
The Industry Buzz
Show Painter Dennis Gilli Passes
It is with great regret to announce the passing of Dennis Gilli.  Dennis spent much of his life as a show painter, and most recently owner of a fun house, and a great friend to many.  He will be deeply missed.

A memorial gathering will take place Saturday, February 10th at 1pm at the IISA Showman’s Club in Gibsonton.  Please attend to share "Denny stories" and celebrate his contribution to all our lives"




  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/28/2018
Firestone Financial adds new team member & programs ahead of Gibtown 2018
Firestone Financial is excited to announce that Rich Gockelman will be joining the team as a Commercial Account Executive for the carnival and amusement park industries. Rich has several years of relationship lending experience and will be joining industry veterans Pete Aldrich, Donna Joyce and John Vangel at the 50th IISF Gibtown Trade Show and Extravaganza and the NICA Business Expo & Food Fare in February.

Carnival and park customers can take advantage of Firestone's industry exclusive program, which allows customers to pay for only half the season on new loans. Any customer that funds a new loan by Memorial Day of 2018 can choose to either cut their seasonal payments in half or hold off on making their first payment until midway through the 2018 season.

In additional to this program, Firestone Financial also offers guidance 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. Borrowers must apply for the credit line. Establishment of the line does not carry any cost or obligation to the customer; standard loan terms and conditions will apply only when the line is used.

You can visit Firestone Financial at the IISF Trade Show in Gibtown, February 6-9 at booth 1128-1130 or visit firestonefinancial.com.

  Posted by Carol Francis on 1/19/2018
Keenan Family Sells Ye Old Mill Ride to Minnesota State Fair

The oldest attraction at the Minnesota State Fair, the Ye Old Mill, has been sold to the Minnesota State Fair.  John Keenan Sr. and his family have owned and operated the attraction for over 102 years, spanning over five generations.  The Minnesota State Fair will now operate the attraction.  

"Ye Old Mill is a living connection to the State Fair's storied past," said General Manager Jerry Hammer. "We're grateful to the Keenan family for creating and maintaining this gem, and we will carry on their century-long tradition of making memories for millions of Minnesotans."

"It has been an incredible experience sharing this tradition at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. We are so pleased the State Fair will continue this tradition for future generations," said John Keenan Sr.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/15/2018
Richard George, Sr. Passes
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Richard George, Sr., of George's Fun Foods of Gibsonton, Florida.

A viewing will be held on Monday, January 15 from  6-midnight and the funeral will be held on Tuesday, January 16 at noon.  Services will be held at Hillsboro Memorial Gardens located at 2323 W Brandon Blvd Brandon, FL.





  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/14/2018
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
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.

Belle City is NOW HIRING FOR 2018!  Ride Supers and Ride Foremen - Chance Giant Wheel Foreman - Electrician Wanted!  Call Zack: 321-578-0449 or 
Charles 407-399-1831

RideParts.com is now open for business!  Visit www.rideparts.com to purchase Wisdom Ride Parts and LED lighting!

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

American Changer’s NEW Ticket Center Kiosk is designed to sell tickets to your customers.  It features a touch screen display and accepts cash, coins, and credit cards.  It dispenses tickets and provides change back to your customer in “bills & coins”.  You can offer a “POP” package with a receipt taken to guest services to be redeemed for a wristband.  The kiosk features cellular communications and offers real-time data monitoring connected to our network server.  Visit www.americanchanger.com or call 800-741-9840.

Crescent City Amusements is seeking General Help PLUS CDL drivers, electricians, and maintenance supervisors for the 2018 season!  Call Greg at (985) 960-3013 for more information.

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