Galaxy Amusement Sales - LED Lighting Waterloo Tent & Tarp
JKJ Workforce Agency KOLMAX PLUS
News Video Message Board Classifieds Top 50 Fairs Photos Directories Calendar Enthusiasts About Us Home
Wade Shows:  Now Hiring Berk Concession Supply Dreamland Amusements:  Help Wanted - Click Here DEGGELLER - HELP WANTED
  • Independent Midway, Headline Entertainment and Pokemon Promotions Boost Ventura County Fair Attendance
    The Ventura County Fair saw an increase of 4.5 percent in attendance this year, reaching 332,262, a boost resulting from innovative promotions, a commitment to live entertainment and an effective ride selection for its independent midway.

    "The Ventura County Fair was a great success with record attendance, clear blue skies, warm days and cool nights and plenty of refreshing Ocean Air", said Barbara Quaid,  CEO, Ventura County Fair. 

    Sluggish Economy
    The uptick for this year's edition of the Ventura County Fair comes despite what appears to be a sluggish regional business climate. The economy has shown little improvement in the region. Adding to the woes of persistent unemployment and low consumer confidence,  Quaid pointed out that the Ventura County economy, heavily reliant on Agriculture, is still suffering from the Golden State drought.  

    "The economy is still status quo compared to last year," said Quaid. "Things haven't really improved compared to last year. But they look at what we have to offer, and for the price we charge, It is an affordable place to go for all walks of life, no matter what your financial status."

    She added, "the agriculture industry is still suffering because of the drought, even though it isn't quite as bad as last year. Strawberries are a major crop here and they did not have a good harvest."

    The drought's lingering impact on the actual fair was evident with the lack green grass on the fairgrounds, "we still had a dry auction, and everyone had to bucket wash their animals."

    Country Fair/Ocean Air 
    But on the positive side, the fair's advertising and marketing seemed particularly effective. The Ventura County Fair has a modest advertising budget of about $100,000. 

    According to James Lockwood, Marketing & Public Relations Director,  the big shift in 2016 advertising spending was that "we added more digital/targeted advertising and fine tuned our print and broadcast advertising," he said. "With digital, we actually targeted our advertising to reach our intended audience by using pixeling, which is based on reaching the demographic. The online ad appears where people are shopping or going on their web, and targets the user. We looked at the advertising, asking what more can it bring us, so decided that narrowing it down to reach the individual was the way to go."

    Fine tuning the print advertising meant some critical old school flourishes, including 250,000 fliers inserted into Ventura County newspapers. "We work through the newspapers on our digital advertising, but they have an expert team and used them for the newspaper insert. We reached a diversity of people by looking at our geographic region and looking how we can reach different areas, especially different towns that are not well serviced by main stream publications." 
    The fair's marketing tagline - "A Country Fair with Ocean Air" led the marketing the campaign. " It describers exactly who we are and it lures visitors from across the state, across the country and around the world," said Quaid. "We use the term country fair in our staff meetings, and we thought it worked and we decided to keep this tagline because we don't believe in change for change's sake. It worked well with our social media, we have likes from all around the country." 

    A popular community outreach promotion was "Read & Ride," where the youth of Ventura County - from preschool to 7th grade -  received rides for reading books. Those eligible had to read a minimum of two to four books, and submit book reports and they were mailed free ride tickets. More than 1,8000 children participated. 

    Independent Midway
    Unusual for a mid-size county fair, the fair operates an independent midway, which it has for more than a decade, contracting with about half-a-dozen companies for its 49-ride midway. While it is more management on the part of the fair, "it really does give the option to pick and chose from the best rides available on the west coast, providing the best experience for people who come to the fair," said Quaid. "Unlike having one carnival company operate the midway, all our contracts are for one year, and we can get the best, and the newest rides. We pick and choose and keep attracting people to the fair." 

    This annual approach to ride contracting seems to have paid off, with midway ride revenue up 5.62 percent. The fair introduced two new rides this year - FD-80, a children's ride and the more spectacular Flipper. The top grossing rides were Giant Wheel,  Wave swinger, Flipper and Ex-Scream Machine.  "The wheel is always one of the top rides, she said. "We also poured a new concrete pad this year. 

    The view over the water, with white caps of the ocean, are beautiful. We do a lot of social media and get a lot of pictures from that view. We did a lot of Periscope this year, and we had our own Snapchat filter. Many of our own staff and their family members go up on to the top of the wheel and post pictures of that view."

    Fairground design this year also improved the interface between the rides and concerts. "The exit for our concerts goes right into our midway," said Quaid. "They see the sparkle of the rides and stay longer and spend more time at the fair." 

    The midway offered about 12 games, with Pokemon plush the most sought after prize. The fair eagerly jumped on the still rolling Pokemon Go! bandwagon - adding Pokemon stops within the fair, "which attracted a lot of kids and millennials, she said. "It was also covered in the local newspaper and they did a nice article on our Pokemon program." 

    Other popular plush included emojis, especially the now near-ubiquitous Poop Hat Emoji.

    The midway revenue uptick in 2016 likely pushed the revenue into record-making territory. "I believe, based on last year's midway revenue, that this year's revenue is going to be a record," she said. "I believe the prior year's fairgoer came to this year's fair and saw the new rides and midway. There has been an upgrade in the midway and we know that we have the fairgoer experience. We give them a lot in the midway and we love having the record."
    The independent midway also gives the fair more flexibility in layout and design, an advantage  for a 63-acre fairground where attraction placement has to be strategically "measured by the inch," said Quaid. "We work on smooth transitions between the different areas, and because we are right on the water, it's difficult to move around large parts of the fair. But this year we changed position of some of the rides and midway." 

    Headliners Draw
    The Ventura County Fair features headline entertainment in its grandstand, but as part of the admission fee ,not as a separate ticket. Opening night may be a motor sports event, but major names this year included Joan Jett, Chris Young, Trace Adkins. America, and Third Eye Blind. 

    "When you pay to get into the gates, not only are you paying for the experience of the fair, you are also paying for the entertainment, which they get for no additional charge," 

    Quaid said that booking entertainment has been pretty evenly split between a buyer's and seller's market. She credited her entertainment booking for finding acts that both attract the fair constituency and fit into an entertainment routing. "We are booking earlier, and it is more difficult. We are booking now already for next year."

    Unlike other California County Fairs, Ventura County Fair remains committed to headline entertainment. "It brings people into the gate, and the rising cost of entertainment is just the cost of doing business," she said. "you can see about 3:30 people leaving the fairgrounds who have been here all day long and new people coming for the music that night. It drives attendance."

    She pointed out that a significant factor in reinforcing the viability of headline entertainment at the annual celebration of everything Ventura has been the ever growing social media promotion. "We do spot on coverage of our concerts in every form of social media," she said. "The concerts are free, we always have a good name, like Joan Jett or Third Eye Blind. We get the word out and people show up because of the value, where else can see a big name and go to a fair for the same price."

    Vendors Up
    Food revenue was up 7 percent, reaching $1,070,808, with 73 different vendors. Hot food trends at the fair were crepes, deep fried peanut butter and jelly and spiral fries. "Spiral fries always had a huge line," added Lockwood.

    There were 185 vendors in the Commercial Building,  which included some booths for local political and other community organizations, but the vast majority were what are commonly known at the fair as "pitch items," harkening back to boardwalks of days gone by when pitchmen hawking products would give pitches and attract crowds and sell merchandise. 

    Perhaps the best contemporary example is Ron Popiel, who actually did appear at the fair years ago selling his "Vita Mix."

    When asked what were the unusual vendors at the fair, Quaid quickly replied "Always, always the wonderful pitch items," she said. "These are commercial exhibitors selling their products and they really do put on a show. Lighted tennis shoes were the hot item this year, and it's popular with teenagers and some young adults as well as moms with toddlers." 

    With rising attendance and solid revenue, Quaid declared that the 2016 Ventura County Fair "Absolutely exceeded all expectations.," she said. "Good weather, good revenue and happy faces."

    Those three factors in the outdoor event equation usually add up to success. But there's always next year. "If it works, we fine tune and we change the things that don't work."

    One area that didn't work so well was at the entrance, where for the first time the fair installed metal detectors. "We will definitely fine tune this part of security. There were lines on the opening day and other days, and we are going to figure out to make that work more smoothly. Security is a reality, and a lot of fairs have them already. So that is one part of the fair we can fine tune. But overall, we have a recipe for a great fair that worked this year." 

  • CNE Expands Demographic With New Marketing and Unisex Washroom Publicity
    Two days of rain and several humid days might have a negative impact on most fairs, but the 18-day Canadian National Exhibition recorded approximately 1.6 million attendees, about the same as last year, according to Karen Lynch, Director of Marketing. Final attendance and spending - a precarious indicator in the struggling Canadian economy -are still being tallied at press time, but the fair's outreach to the diversity of the Toronto ended with positive results. 

    "We had another very good year," she said. "We had two days with rain, and several very humid days, but for the most part we had great fair weather."

    6/ 5 Gen Y
    The fair's most effective promotion was the repeat of the $6 after 5 deal - fairgoers could attend the weeknights for this steep discount - a promotion that has 'completely transformed our weeknight traffic," she said. 

    Like many cities, Toronto is experiencing a rebirth as millennials and other generations shift towards more urban living. "There are huge condo developments going up and more people are moving into Toronto," she said. "The CNE promotions runs Monday to Thursdays. People can come in and eat fair food, enjoy the music at the band shells which are free with admission. We had a strong mix of concerts."

    The 2016 band shell concerts included Randy Bachman, Jefferson Starship, Headstones, Ricky Nelson Remembered, Luciano, George Canyon, Dean Brody, Scott Helman & Tyler Shaw, A Great Big World, Ria Mae & Coleman Hell  and  Walk Off The Earth. She added that many of these are "very popular in Canada," adding that the Luciana show had "8,000 people at the concert,"  she said.

    Another weekday promotion that further fueled the robust attendance was the Food Truck Frenzy & Craft Beer Fest, a special two-day event that featured 25 food trucks and 10 local brewing companies. "The younger fairgoers flock to this food trucks and the craft beers," he said.  

    The combination makes for a "fun and funky experience," she explained, combining the time-tested and beloved features of the fair - food you can't get at home and outdoor concerts - but marketing them in a way that appeals to the younger demographic.

    Of course, the price promotion is also key. "The younger generation, they are very cost conscious and deals appeal to them," she said. "Our economy is still in recovery; but often that works in our favor since people are more likely to stay home.  The high US/low Canadian dollar also worked in our favor once again this year."

    Gender Neutrality 
    Besides a preference for artisan food products and price promotions, Gen Y & X are known for their tolerance and inclusiveness.  The EX got some unprecedented global coverage this year from and it wasn't for its exciting new attractions, such as the $5.5 million investment in the waterfront area of the fairgrounds, enabling the CNE to offer waterfront attractions for the first time in decades, including The Great Canadian Water Ski Caper as well as the WWA Wakeboard World Championships, or the Star Trek "50 Artists. 50 Years," featuring over 50 artists from 10 countries celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic series, as well as photographs by the late Leonard Nimoy, or the brand new Aerial Acrobatics and Ice Skating Show that boasted famous Olympians. 

    No, international media came for the  new bathrooms that became global news thanks to controversial bathroom laws in the lower 48. In March, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which mandated that only individuals must use the rest room designated for their birth sex. The CNE seemed to protest this so called "Bathroom Bill" - still hotly debated in this already overly heated election year - with new restrooms that were non-gender specific.

    According to Lynch, "the idea originated with our General Manager Virginia Ludy," but making a political statement related to the red state/blue state divide over U.S. bathrooms were not part of the original concept. It turns out, the CNE had been planning to add new "washrooms" and were taking a cost-effective method, repurposing large shipping containers into outdoor facilities. "To be honest, we wanted to get new outdoor washrooms," said Lynch. "we wanted to get away from using the portable ones, so we decided to build our own washrooms. We really didn't care about the bathroom bill in the U.S., it wasn't on our minds. We just made them unisex."

    The fair built two large units and two family units - and one of the reasons they were made unisex were so families could use them - such as when mom wants to supervise a young son who may not be old enough to go by himself - but while Lynch claims the fair didn't "care  about the whole gender thing," the forces of social media -then old media - had a different take. "It took a viral life of its own, we got very positive pr and a lot of shares. Then we got tremendous coverage that included the BBC in the UK."

    The universal symbol used on the facilities were a hybrid - pant -legged figure on one side, skirt on the other. New restrooms using the repurposed containers will be added each year as part of a fairground-wide infrastructure upgrade the fair has implemented. They will of course be unisex, because it seems there's no turning back in Canada. "It really brings our fair into the 21st century. We were surprised by the positive response to the bathrooms we received. It had a real resonance with young people, who are generally looked at as apathetic. But they thought this was great, and they made their opinions known on social media and I think some of them did come to the fair because of the bathrooms." 

    Lets Go To The Ex
    The fair's more deliberate marketing also received an upgrade, adopting a new jingle and expanding the marketing reach. The fair adopted the tagline, "Let's Go To The Ex," but with licensed use of the classic 50s hit, "At The Hop." The fair used the same media mix as last year, which included a massive print campaign with a CNE Guidebook insertion in newspapers. The fair produced 21 different ads for mainly online purposes, which cycled through the various websites and digital outlets. "We became more programmatic and marketing is increasingly stratified," she said. "The ads tracked different interests and were pushing different messages. Increasingly to reach millennials, they only view online media." 
    In addition, the fair's out-of-home marketing included billboards, buses, street cars and mass transit hubs. "We shift the money and follow the different trends," she said. "We massage it each year."

    The fair also translates some ads to reach newer and growing ethnic groups, adding Hindi and Punjabi. "We have a very diverse population and it is a big thing for us and our audience to really reflect the diversity of the region," she said. "The diversity of the region has completely changed since the 1980s and we have a large population of people for whom English is not their mother tongue. You want to build for the future, you have a responsibility and they are coming to the fair, they love it. It's just like reaching the millennials,  it's building for the future and reflecting your community." 

    She added that some groups, especially South Asian families "come with their extended family, it's a great activity for them." 

    For the first time in more than a decade, the fair also purchased advertising in U.S. markets in upstate New York, near the Canadian border.  In addition, the fair also had a promotional partnership arrangement with the Erie County Fair. She said that initial analysis of data indicates that American visitors at the fair was up 17 percent. 

    Actually, U.S. marketing was common to the fair for much of the 20th century, but in the first decade of the new millennium there was the SARS outbreak and new security measures enforced stricter passport laws, "we saw the U.S. fairgoers dropping off, but it has been growing in more recent times so we decided to market in the states again. We had several ads in Buffalo newspapers, which is within two hours of the fair." 

    Midway Down
    North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) provided the CNE midway, with 62 rides although ride revenue was down about 5 percent, said Lynch. While the weather did not seem to negatively impact attendance, rain and humidity took its toll at the midway. "Concessions were up, and it is hot and humid, people tend to drink more and eat more ice cream," she said. "But the rain and humidity meant the midway was down slightly."

    New rides included The Himalaya on the Main Midway and Chopper Charlie in the Kiddieland , and a newly restored Polar Express, "which was a thing of beauty," said Lynch. "It really sparkled."

    The midway was also reconfigured, due to a new construction - a new hotel is being developed --  and the construction footprint hampered the size of the midway. "It was probably a tighter squeeze but it shouldn't be a factor next year," she said.

    The CNE features a vast number of food vendors - in addition to the 3-day day Food Trucks and Midway concessions - with   106 food vendors in the Food Building  and  86 Food & Beverage Concessions outside on the grounds. Some new cuisine debuts include Rainbow Grilled Cheese Sandwich a Pickle Corn Dog and a Sushi Burrito. Another new vendor was selling  the "Bug Dog," which were made up edible insects, such as crickets. "It's a food trend, definitely ,using insects," she explained. "It started in animal feed, where they found that crickets were a cheaper source of protein, they didn't need as much water as soy. It manifested itself into fair food. There's definitely a Fear Factor aspect, but some people are adventurous and it is fun."

    Last year Lynch recognized the fair was extremely successful and the challenge is the pressure to top with yourself. "We were chasing very big numbers from last year which had perfect weather and was a banner year, " she said . "We were a little nervous about competition with  yourself. But we succeeded despite having two days of rain and some very humid weather."

    More importantly was the marketing outreach, "the fair is a universal experience, people young, old, millennials, they love it, specifically families with children two to eight. We do a lot of research and are more successful in shaping programs to appeal to the different crowds and tailoring our message to reach them." 

  • Paid Admission Increases for Colorado State Fair
    Despite a drop in attendance, the Colorado State Fair had a successful year. A combination of popular entertainers, delicious food, educational exhibits, and a great midway kept customers happy and entertained according to fair general manager, Sarah Cummings.
    This year, the Colorado State Fair drew a crowd of 466,576. This is a 7.5% decrease from the 2015 fair; However, this number is comparable to the fair's five year attendance average. "Although attendance decreased, our paid admission was up 4% and our attendance is consistent with our 5 year average of 488,000 people" says Cummings. Regular gate price at the Colorado State Fair is $7 on the weekdays and $10 on the weekends, but the fair provides several admission specials to help make the fair more affordable. For the first time, the Colorado State Fair implemented a seniors discount; seniors could get into the fair for $2 any day. Additionally, the fair offered a back to school promotion on the two Fridays of the fair; children got in for free. The fair also features a Magic Mega Pass; this pass is $98 and is good for unlimited rides every day of the fair. The Mega Pass was sponsored by Magic Radio in Colorado. According to Cummings, the fair's family packs are always a huge hit. Families can buy a four pack of drinks, food, and admission for $50 or a four pack of drinks, food, admission, and unlimited carnival rides for $150. Perhaps one of the most unique features of the Colorado State Fair is their sneak peak day. Customers can pay $15 and ride unlimited carnival rides on the day before the fair opens. The Colorado State Fair's admission specials contributed to their increase in paid admission from 2015 to 2016.

    Six nights of the fair, there are concerts and rodeos on the main stages: the grandstand and the event center. The Colorado State Fair features four different rodeos: RPCA Ram Rodeo, Ranch Rodeo, Celebration De Los Charro, and Wrangler Champions Challenge Rodeo. The rodeos take place in the event center and always draw a big crowd; "People really look forward to the rodeos and they always draw large crowds. The fair offers ticket packages for rodeos and concerts so people have lots of options for entertainment" says Cummings. Some of the headliner entertainment at the Colorado State Fair included: Chris Janson, Huey Lewis, Lee Brice, Foreigner, and Vanilla Ice. Just like many other state fair across the country, Cummings noticed that it is more difficult to book headliner acts on the fair's entertainment budget than it has been before. "We definitely have to work a little bit harder to book entertainers who will pull large crowds but I'm happy with how we did this year" says Cummings. The Colorado State Fair works with a $600,000 entertainment budget. 

    In addition to main stage entertainment, the Colorado State Fair hosted many ground acts and strolling performers. A few of the most popular entertainers were the sea lion splash show, fables of the west show, laser tag, and pole vaulting exhibitions from local schools. Rare events like laser tag and pole vaulting drew big crowds and Cummings says that the fair is interested in having entertainment like that at the fair in the future.  
    The Colorado State Fair's midway partner was Crabtree Amusements. Crabtree brought 52 rides to the state fair including some crowd favorites: the Giant Wheel, the Power Booster, and the Pole Position. Pat Crabtree, owner of Crabtree Amusements, was very happy with their run this year; "the fair started off down, mostly due to the threat of bad weather, but we ended with a record run", he said.

    The Colorado State Fair is a division of Colorado Department of Agriculture; therefore, the fair always has a strong agricultural presence. The fair always features an agricultural pavilion, which features many interactive, educational exhibits for kids and adults alike. 

    The pavilion featured a petting zoo, pony rides, a junior livestock sale, livestock shows, and a Milking Bessie booth. The new Milking Bessie booth allowed children to learn how to properly milk a cow and was very popular with fairgoers according to Cummings. Local 4H and FFA groups host and manage the junior livestock shows and sales. Many young people in the community are actively engaged in the 4H and FFA programs, bringing many families out to the Colorado State Fair. 

    Of course, the fair has plenty of delicious and unique foods available for customers. Perhaps the most popular item, which is unique to the Colorado State Fair, is Indian Fry Bread; "I had never heard of it before moving to Colorado in January but it is absolutely delicious. People travel to the fair specifically for this bread" Cummings added. Some other popular stands are Backyard BBQ, Tony's Concessions, and Pueblo Chili. Food is certainly an important part of the Colorado State Fair atmosphere; Cummings says that there was plenty of food stands for fairgoers to enjoy and the vendors were happy with the crowd turnout. 

    Overall, the Colorado State Fair works with an advertising and marketing budget of $515,800. This budget includes production, web-hosting, promotional signs and talent. The $465,588 advertising budget covers a media mix of print, radio, television, and social media. About 13% was spent on print, 40% on radio, 42% on television, and 5% on social media. This media mix works well for the fair and results in crowds coming from all over the state. The Colorado State Fair operates on a total budget of $1.8 million. 

    Although there was a drop in attendance, the Colorado State Fair certainly had a successful year. Happy vendors and fair partners and thoroughly entertained customers left the Colorado State Fair in a great place for their 2017 run. 

  • Full Fair Feel: New Mexico State Fair Sees 8 Percent Attendance Jump
    New Mexico has a population of about two million. Nearly 500,000 attended this year's New Mexico State Fair, a booming, robust event that saw an 8 percent attendance increase, the sophomore year for a new midway provider, a partnership with Uber, reinvigorated free entertainment content and more effective entertainment booking.

    The achievement of this year's fair especially the attendance -- 497,036 -  a figure made even more remarkable because the population of New Mexico is about 2 million. In other words, about a quarter of a the state's residents attended the state fair this year. 

    "Our fair did very well this year," said Dan Mourning, General Manager. "When you consider the high percentage that is of New Mexican who come to the fair, it's huge in a state of 2 million that is roughly half the size of Texas."

    He added, "our goal was to reach a total attendance of 500,000.  We were just shy of that goal, likely due to several fairly significant weather events, two of which occurred over the weekend.  Overall, we were very pleased with this year's fair. "Patrons seemed to be spending money at the fair, with the many vendors reporting increased sales over previous years.

    The weather events were torrential rain that passed through the area, but otherwise "it was perfect fair weather." 

    The fair increased overall attendance of about 8 percent over last year's numbers. This year's fair was attended by 497,036 people, as compared to last year's total attendance of 460,468.  Paid attendance surpassed last year's total number with 423,095 attending as compared to 414,932 people in 2015.

    Full Fair Feel
    Like most fairs,  the New Mexico State Fair did not have one factor that can be singled out as the main reason to attend. "We had a very full fair feel with spectacular entertainment throughout the fair," he said. "You pay your admission, and you know that you will be thrilled. We added more free entertainment."

    This full fair feel was made up of new entertainment that included Ma'Ceo Circus by Cavallo, a European Circus act; Aussie Kingdom, an interactive exhibition of the Australian Outback Great American Cowboy Boot Camp, an interactive and educational western lifestyle exhibit, Duck Race, a waterfowl competition; and Xpogo Stunt Team and favorite returning acts included Dock Dogs, a canine Aquatics Competition and Magician Sheldon Casavant.

    The Duck Races, the magnification and the circus, which he aptly described as an "old style gypsy circus with the top acrobats in the world," were tremendously popular," Mourning said. "You want to try something new. It was a very exciting fair, and you want the people who come to move around the fair, to stay longer and find something exciting."

    The fair also became the first large New Mexico event to partner with Uber,  which not only included a price arrangement but a new Uber Lounge and dedicated gate for Uber transported fairgoers. This high-profile deal that also appealed to contemporary transportation preferences, was part of an overall plan to  improve the transportation infrastructure of the fair.  "We had more than 4,000 fairgoers come to the fair via Uber this year. The lounge gave them a comfortable place to wait. We worked with our city so there would be a bus service to the fair, and we had an open air tram that took people from overflow lots, which had free parking, to the fairground."

    In addition, the New Mexico State Fair again is partnered with BikeABQ for a bike valet and an increasing number of fairgoers biked to this year's event, and ABQ RIDE, the Albuquerque mass transit system,  ABQ RIDE operated four bus routes, including two Rapid Rides which provided a direct ride to the fair.

    Reithoffer Shows
    This was the second year of Reithoffer Shows' multi-year contract as the state fair midway operator. The midway featured 50 rides, with a new addition of the kid's favorite, the Wacky Mouse Coaster. The most popular rides were The Gentle Giant Wheel, Super Himalaya, and Flipper, Mourning said. Revenues were up over 2015, he said but did not have available figures. The new midway promotion this year were all-day ride wrist bands every day, including weekends (last year wrist bands could only be purchased on weekdays).

    "I  guarantee with all the LED lights they you use, you could see the midway from space," said Mourning. "They create a very festive atmosphere, that is really the heart of the fair."

    Mourning pointed put out that the games were very popular this year. "I watched how people spend their money, and they go right to the games and the games pay off. People loved the games, although to my chagrin the most popular plush prize seemed to the Poop Hat Emoji."

    He added, "Reithoffer invests $25,000 into the fair's infrastructure each year.  This year that money was dedicated to improved trenching.  The state fair invested into improved fiber capacity which resulted in much reduced lines and speedy turnaround at the kiosks to purchase ride tickets. We had consistent power. Reithoffer also had a mobile app this year, which was a great tool for fair goers." 

    Thrill All Your Senses
    The fair's advertising budget was $220,000, with a media mix of 37 percent TV, 8 percent Digital; 4 percent Print and 32 percent terrestrial radio; and 19 percent outdoor. The marketing tagline was "Thrill for All Your Senses," echoing Mourning's initiative to create the full fair feel."

    One of the highpoints for the highly extroverted Mourning was the discovery of Facebook Live. Not a big social media user, the marketing department convinced him to do some videos as talking about the fair, and a star was born. "I had passion for the fair and I love talking about it on Facebook," he said. "I can't wait to do more of this next year." 

    The entertainment this year had a sellout show for Dwight Yokum as a headliner, as well as  strong sales for 38 Special, Tracy Lawrence and Neal McCoy. The concerts were all part of the PRCA Rodeo, and Mourning felt they were effective components of the fair. "It was a good show and it was ridiculous how well he was received," he said. "Neal McCoy was an amazing entertainer, there was a tremendous buzz about his show. Sales really took."

    Mourning remains committed to the entertainment at the fair. Although realistic about the difficulties about the competition "we are surrounded by five casinos, and they've inflated the market. It's difficult to find the good acts for the fair."

    But, finding the good acts he credits to a strong negotiating headed by industry superstar, Barbara (Mother) Hubbard, who was awarded the Poll Star Honors Award for lifetime achievement last year (the first ever bestowed). "We had a strong negotiator in our contract negotiations with Barbara, which resulted in the acquisition of great talent at good values to the fair. She is a legend in the music industry, and negotiated great pricing. The Dwight Yokum booking came close to not happening."

    Mourning doesn't disagree that it's a sellers market when it comes to booking fair entertainment, but it just takes more effort to make it work. "You need the strong negotiator, as well as looking into the routing and making artists offer. The PRCA is a drawing crowd, but we are looking at bringing in some stand alone concerts, not reinventing the wheel but tweaking it. We're not looking for a big change. Concerts are not the draw they used to be for a fair." 

    What pushed the sales for the concerts adding to this year's success were social media promotions. "This year we did a number of giveaways of rodeo and concert tickets, starting in February," he said. " We believe this gave us early momentum for concert sales, and extended our outreach well beyond our usual followers." 

    Chile & Bacon 
    The fair featured 85 food vendors, with the hot food using the new gastro-pub trend of unusual food combinations and adding the new fair favorite, bacon - the Green Chile Maple Bacon Mini Donuts. "New Mexico is known for our green chiles, and this was a very popular food item. 

    Opening day of the fair showcased a Unique Foods Contest , reflecting the adventurous palates of New Mexicans. Unique cuisines included the New Mexico Green Chile Peanut Brittle; Bacon Wrapped Green Chile Cheeseburger; Deep Fried Steak Fajita; Foot Long Deep Fried Bacon Enchilada Dog; Lobster Roll, Smothered and Covered Chicken Nuggets and of course, Green Chile Maple Bacon Mini Donuts.  

    "The Unique Foods Contest has been cited as one of the reasons we are ranked among the top fairs in the country, and has allowed us to gain national recognition for our exceptional food," said Mourning. "Our unique food options are so popular that we have been contacted by national travel and food networks eager to come to New Mexico to sample and feature our delicious food."
    Reportedly, The Travel Channel's "Food Paradise," will feature New Mexico State Fair foods in an upcoming episode filmed at this year's fair.

QuickHits News | Industry Buzz | Forum LED lighting LED lighting LED lighting
HEADLINES from the web
Houghton Enterprises
Middletown, DE
10/7/2016 - 11/5/2016
Reithoffer Shows
The Western Carolina State Fair
Aiken, SC
10/20/2016 - 10/29/2016
Arnold Amusements
Hillsborough County Fair
Brandon, FL
10/20/2016 - 10/29/2016
Reithoffer Shows
The Pensacola Interstate Fair
Pensacola, FL
10/20/2016 - 10/30/2016
Belle City Amusements
Alachua County Fair
Gainsville, FL
10/21/2016 - 10/30/2016
Amusements of America
Coastal Carolina Fair
Ladson, SC
10/27/2016 - 11/6/2016

IAAPA Attractions Expo - Orlando, FL
[more info..]

I.I.S.F. Gibtown Extravaganza - Gibsonton, FL
[more info..]

2015 TOP 50 FAIRS
1. Texas State Fair - Dallas, TX
2. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
3. Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
4. San Antonio Livestock Show & Ex. - San Antonio, TX
5. Canadian National Exhibition

View Top 50 Fairs
The Industry Buzz
John Owens passes
It is with great regret to announce the passing of John Owens.  John spent much of his life working in the fair industry, most recently serving as the acting general manager of the Volusia County Fair in Florida.  Prior to that, he was the general manager of the Nevada State Fair and Anderson County Fair & Expo Center (SC).  John also worked for the OABA for several years, serving as the organizations director of marketing and membership services.  John was the proud author of "Opening Night", a book he wrote for creating successful events within the fair and festival industry.  

A gathering of friends will be held on October 31 from 4-5pm with the service being held immediately following. 

Allen-Summerhill Funeral Home / Orange City
163 South Volusia Ave.
Orange City, FL, US, 32763

  Posted by Matt Cook on 10/25/2016
Gold Star Amusement's Richard Hanson passes
It is with great sadness to report the passing of Richard Hanson.  Richard was a lifelong friend of the Featherston family and served as a manager at Gold Star Amusements.  Funeral arrangements are as follows:

October 6, 2016 at 11am

Pellerin Funeral Home
211 Berard St. 
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

The Featherston family is grateful to Father John Vakulskas for rearranging his schedule to officiate the service.  

In honor of Richard's relationship with Jaylin Koerner, it is requested that in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation (  

For those who knew Richard up north, the Featherston family is planning to have a Memorial during the Midwest Showmen's Association/MN Federation of County Fairs Convention in Bloomington, MN on January 14, 2017. Time and place TBA.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/29/2016
Top 15 Grossing Games at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair
The total game gross at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair set a record at over $3,259,566.99 in gross receipts, an increase of $377,792.27 (13%) over 2015.  Like rides, all games on the Mighty Midway operate on tickets and no cash or coin is accepted.  The top 15 grossing games include:

1. Bottle Up - Candice P. Anderson
2. Goblets - Candice P. Anderson
3. Goblets - Candice P. Anderson
4. Whopper Water Race - Cassata Concessions 
5. Fish-A-Rama - Oren Concessions LLC 
6. Shoot Out The Star - Midwest Concessions, Inc. 
7. Rising Waters Water Race - Cassata Concessions 
8. Long Range Basketball - Oren Concessions LLC 
9. Long Range Basketball - Oren Concessions LLC 
10. Milk Cans - Potopas Concessions, Inc. 
11. Top Glo Water Race - Cassata Concessions 
12. Ring-A-Bottle - JBS Concessions 
13. Ring-A-Bottle - Trejo Concessions 
14. Big Mouth - Potopas Concessions, Inc.
15. Balloon Pop Water Race - Thornberry Concessions 
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/21/2016
Top 15 Rides at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair
The Minnesota State Fair achieved a record ride gross during its 2016 run with over $4,084,481.41 in ride receipts, an increase of $136,548.30 (3.5%) over 2015.

The top 15 grossing attractions on the Mighty Midway and Kidway include:

1. Crazy Mouse Spinning Roller Coaster - S.J. Entertainment 
2. Sky Flyer - Reithoffer Equipment Co., Inc. 
3. Starship 3000 - Laser Fair, Inc. 
4. New York New York Fun House - Fair Ride Entertainment LLC 
5. Hurricane - Showtime Rides, Inc. 
6. Super Nova Roller Coaster - KB Concessions LLC 
7. Gondola Wheel - Playworld Unlimited 
8. Puppy Express - Prime Pacific Ent. LLC 
9. Rock It - State Fair Services, Inc. 
10. Tilt-A-Whirl - Lauther Amusements 
11. Flipper - S.J. Entertainment 
12. Equinox - Laser Fair, Inc. 
13. Kite Flyer - Alamo Amusements, Inc.
14. Magic Maze - Wood Entertainment Company, Inc. 
15. Arabian Daze Fun House - Fun Attractions LLC 
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/21/2016
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.


Victor Products -Concession Supplies & Equipment Sales

KMG is a leading builder of spectacular amusement rides such as the Freak Out, Fire Ball (Afterburner), Speed, Inversion (Nemesis 360), and many more.

Berk Concession Supply is the number one source for concession supplies.  Call 800-323-3547 or visit for more information.  Lemonade Cups and much more! is now open for business!  Visit to purchase Wisdom Ride Parts and LED lighting!

Follow Us:
Receive Carnival and Fair Industry News Sent Directly To Your Inbox

Sign up for our email news list to receive up-to-the-minute industry news sent directly to your email inbox. When breaking news hits, we automatically send a news bulletin to all of our subscribers. It's free, and only from!

E-mail address:    Your Name:
How are you affilliated with the industry?
Fan:    |  Fair or Event:    |  Manufacturer or Supplier:    |  Owner: |  Employee:   |   Other: