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  • New York New York Fun House makes a splash at the Minnesota State Fair
    ST. PAUL, Minn. --- The Minnesota State Fair is getting a mouthful of the Big Apple this year.

    The New York New York, a new four-story fun house owned by Joey Weaver and his uncle, Bobby Myers, anchors the back end of the Mighty Midway here at the state fair, running through Labor Day.

    The $1 million piece is produced by Gosetto, an Italian ride manufacturer. It's among about 12 pieces still held by Myers International Midways. The longtime Florida show operates as an independent after downsizing its business in 2014.

    Here at one of the best state fairs in the country, Myers showcased the fun house along with its Crazy Dance, Wave Swinger and Monster Truck ride. Five days into the fair, the New York New York, despite its location, was holding steady as one of the five to 10 most popular pieces, according to Weaver, co-owner of the Myers operation.

    State fair officials strategically placed the fun house in that spot to beef up the back end of the midway, and halfway through the event, it's paid off, drawing lots of traffic to the colorful attraction, Weaver said. The ride was delivered on July 29, in time for the Wisconsin State Fair. The fun house finished as the fifth-most popular ride in West Allis, riding about 36,000 people over 11 days, he said.

    There are enough gadgets to thrill the most experienced fun house enthusiast, featuring 32 animated tricks, including rolling carpets, swinging bridges, a rolling barrel and a slide circling down from the top level as patrons complete the excursion. For those who prefer to bypass the slide, there are stairs up top to walk down to ground level. 

    To accentuate the Big Apple theme, Myers officials built a pair of Statue of Liberty displays book-ending the ride, plus a souvenir photo booth. They installed 10 cameras throughout the fun house to take photographs posted for sale and to keep an eye on the operator and patrons, Weaver said. Speed controls for the tricks act as another safety measure. 

     "We tried to step it up a level," he said. "The cameras are there for safety. They're pointed at every obstacle. It gives us some backup."

    The fun house is transported on two trucks, one of which is used exclusively to handle the slide. Myers officials custom built the second trailer with a crane mounted to a flatbed trailer, which is used to attach the slide to the fun house. The initial setup in Wisconsin took 22 hours and the time it took to tear down was cut in half. In Minnesota, it took 15 hours to set up New York New York as the Myers crew gets more familiar with the routine.

    The structure runs on hydraulics controlled by a wireless remote. Workers build the fence and platforms. It takes eight employees to run New York New York and they get frequent breaks to keep them fresh on a sophisticated piece.

    In late April, Weaver traveled to the factory in Italy to monitor construction time. Officials had it built to U.S. specifications,considering European standards are not on par with ASTM guidelines, Weaver said.

    As far as Weaver knows, there are two other fun houses similar to the New York New York operating in the U.S., including Ray Cammack Shows' Fun Factory. Another four-story fun house, S&T Magic's King Curtis, runs out of Gibsonton, Fla.

    Weaver, the 25-year-old son of the late Vince Weaver, whose family owned the old Interstate Amusements, is adjusting to life as an independent. Myers International Midways no longer relies on generating most of its revenue from selling tickets tied to running a 50-ride show. Now, it's about putting a greater focus on running a few select major attractions efficiently, he said.

    Individually, the rides cater to separate audiences. The Crazy Dance, for example, draws the teen crowd. In Minnesota,the Wave Swinger is set up in Kiddileand, playing oldies music. The New York New York is marketed for all ages, Weaver said. 

    Elsewhere, the Ice Jet, a re-themed Chance Alpine Bobs, is sitting in Oklahoma City waiting for the Great State Fair Oklahoma, Sept. 17-27.  The Crazy Dance and Wave Swinger will join the Ice Jet in Oklahoma City, and all three rides will move to the Tulsa State Fair, running from Oct. 1-11. Wade Shows runs both midways.

    The New York New York and the Monster Truck ride, meanwhile,will stop in Dallas for the State Fair of Texas, another independent midway. Dates are Sept. 25-Oct. 18.  All told, Myers sends rides to about a half-dozen fairs, including the Florida State Fair and the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach, two more Wade spots. 

    They have a full crew that keeps busy refurbishing rides in their Florida shop, some for other carnivals including Reithoffer Shows, Amusements of America, Modern Midways, Drew Exposition, Deggeller Attractions and Paradise Amusements. The Myers shop re-skinned the back wall on the Magnum, a spectacular owned by Michael Wood that's set up here in St. Paul.

    As an independent, Weaver enjoys spending more time with his family compared with the grind of being on the road as a full-time carnival. Joey and and his wife, Ashlee, have a 6-year-old daughter, Cynnimin, 

    "We don't go on the road now until late July and are home by mid-November," he said. "We live on the river in Gibtown ... it's a big reason why we did get rid of the show. The way it was before, you can't just jump on a plane and go home. it's part of the nature of the beast. My daughter gets to go to a regular school and I wouldn't take that away from her."

    Weaver and Myers split the responsibilities of handling equipment. In the coming weeks, Weaver will go to Oklahoma and Myers will be in Dallas for the run of state fairs. It's the way they like it now. A few days before Minnesota got underway, Weaver treated his help to a trip to the Mall of America. 

    "When we had a show, we couldn't do that with 50 rides and one day to set up," he said.  

    Ashlee & Joey Weaver - Myers International Midways

  • Midway Millennials - Butler Amusements
    Midway Millennials is an ongoing series profiling the new generation of fair professionals

    This is the first time Butler Amusements is using a computer program (CAD) for midway layout. This carnival company, which has multiple units, provides the midway for 119 events a year, on the go from February through October. Until now the layout design was literally a sketchy affair. The various rides had to be hand drawn onto to a generalized map of the fairground. With the new program it's a 3-D computer simulation of the midway facts on the ground. 

    "We can set up a specific plan of attack," joked Sean Butler, 25 years old. A third generation showman who grew up on the midway, Butler spent his high school and college years working summers part time in the family business. Last year, he graduated from San Jose State Universitywith a B.S. in Business Management and this year is his first season as a full time Unit Manager. 

    Bringing CAD into the organization was his idea. "You can overlay the fairgrounds with the layout of the midway, and it makes it more precise. You can plan more details, like pedestrian flow, and take into account any new changes the fair has made. I can basically put in specific dimensions for each ride, game and food stand and any other space and the program calculates if there is any missing space, it is so much more accurate."

    He added that "You can test out different options and really create the best possible, most optimal midway without the same amount of man hours. It's all about increasing customer satisfaction."

    CAD also improves the working relationship Butler Amusements has with the Fair. Fair boards and staff are able to see the representation further in advance, making changes and suggestions. "It is a communication tool with the fairs too," he said. 

    In fact, communication with the fairs Butler sees as one of the aspects that distinguishes the current fair industry from the business his father and grandfather knew. "We are in communication with fairs for next year within a week or two after the close of this year's fair. We are in communication throughout the entire year, because email makes that possible, that you can continue the back and forth. That is very different for my generation."

    Communication that is immediate, earlier and ongoing is key in today's fair business. "As Unit Manager, you want to talk about the fair when it is still fresh in your mind. Things like crowd flow or layout, things that didn't go right or that we can improve upon. The conversations start earlier and you talk all through the year, it's not just one conversation months after a fair and you try to remember what happened." 

    Sean Butler is the son of Earle "Butch" Butler, and the grandson of George "Budd" Butler, founder of the family owned and operated company. He is Unit Manager of what he says the company still calls the "Butch Unit," after his father who managed the unit until his death in 2011, leading about 70 employees.
    "My earliest memory is of me  sitting  with my grandfather at a fair, I think it was the Redwood Empire Fair," he said. "I was sitting on his lap. I was four years old, and riding around him and watching him do what he did, putting all the fishing touches on the midway." 

    Any pondering of alternative career choices was brief for Butler. What higher education seemed to instill was his appreciation of his family's business. "When I first went to college, I looked at other job opportunities, but that only made think more about this business," he said. "College gave me a better understanding of all the different facets of the fair business."

    The result was that college prepared him to take on an executive position at an early age. "I learned a lot of about working people on the accounting side, and dealing with all the different personalities," he said. "Fair people have different personalities than the carnival companies and we all have to work together. You have to negotiate with different personalities"

    Butler credits his father and grandfather for being visionaries in the carnival business. Nonetheless, he feels the most distinctive mark his generation is making on the fair industry is the openness to progress. "We adapt and change more quickly than the previous generation, we are not as resistant to change. We are using more resources, like social media and technology, and using them sooner than the previous generation, who had a different philosophy towards change, they were more structured." 

    This is not a simple change-for-change's sake mentality, "but my generation is not afraid to ask questions to improve something. Other generations worked hard towards one objective, and it's important to have that goal and work towards it. But we're more open to asking questions to look for better ways of reaching that objective."
    In addition to a higher capacity for change, an adeptness at collaboration is essential to his current role as Unit Manager.  "College training made me better and working with different personalities, different committees and different teams, both within our company and at the fair management level." 

    He added, "you want to have a good team behind you, and you want to have a good working relationship with the fair, and the fair manager. You are in partnership with the fair."
    This partnership philosophy also means being able to roll with the punches and do whatever is necessary to optimize the midway. At a recent fair, Butler told a story of how the fair manager noticed just before opening that the fairground was low on benches and they needed more seating. Another fair, in relative close proximity, has just closed and were no longer using their benches. Butler said that in California, "the fairs are not in competition with each other and they were glad to help."

    But getting the benches from one fair to another was another issue, so Butler offered the use of the company's semi to transport the seating. "We were able to pick up the benches, and it is about our relationship with the fairs." 

     One of the biggest challenges for this California-based carnival company has been the ongoing water shortage due to drought conditions in the Golden State. Butler points out the company has already conformed to new regulations and implemented their own water-savings measures so that this year there were very few changes. "We've already adjusted so much that we didn't really have to do anything differently this year," said Butler. "The biggest adjustment is that we like our rides to be gleaming, so you have to wash them using a minimal amount of water. With the Flume Rides, we use reclined water and recycle the water."

    But even in communities hardest hit by the California water crisis, enthusiasm for fairs runs high. "We play a lot of farming communities, and they are hit by the drought, but the people are coming out and the agriculture seems strong. It's been a great year so far and at most of the fairs, we've been up, attendance has been up, we've on track to have one our best years ever." 

  • Weather, Marketing & Economy Boosts Attendance for Ohio State Fair
    The 2015 Ohio State Fair extended its record-breaking streak to a third year. The fair, July 29th to August 9th, attracted 982,305, an increase of 7.2 percent over last year, breaking for the third year in row the 12-day attendance record for the fair. The event recorded a record opening day, with the first weekend racking up back-to-back 100,000+ days.

    Optimum weather, an improving economy, an effective package of events and a more aggressive marketing campaign seems to have been the wining formula for this year's celebration of everything Buckeye. "We always hope for a great year, and this one broke records when it comes to attendance, midway revenue, concession revenue and more," said Alicia Shoults, Marketing & Public Relations Director, Ohio Expo Center & State Fair. " It was a phenomenal year."

    Revenue & Per Capita Up
    The fair experienced increases across the board, including midway revenue up 12 percent, concession revenue up 13.3 percent, and overall per capita spending up 4.5 percent.

    While attendance may have benefited from mother nature, an improving Ohio may be the main factor in spending increasing. 

    " It was mostly warm and nice," said Shoults. "The first day was very hot with a storm in the evening, and we had a rainy/dreary day on Thursday ( August 6th). Other than that, the weather was pleasant."

    She added, "the fact that our attendance continues to grow, as well as the fact that per capita spending has increased, are  signs of economic resurgence in our community."

    Agriculture & Champions
    In addition, even with the ban on poultry shows due to the avian influenza crisis this year, Ohio's agriculture industry is having a robust year, which also benefited the fair. "We boast entries from every county in the state, and although we did not have poultry shows this year due the avian influenza outbreak, our other livestock entries rose approximately 3 percent."

    Another sign of better economic times were record breaking sales at the Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions, such as the Grand Champion Swiss Cheese selling for $25,000 The event showcases a livestock auction of Ohio's premium livestock as well premier Junior Fair exhibitors. On the sale bill were grand champion and reserve champion market lambs, market barrows and market beef, as well as grand champion market goat, a Thanksgiving Dinner to represent the champion poultry and a block of Swiss cheese to represent the six dairy champions.

    "The Sale of Champions is driven by dedicated exhibitioners and community-oriented buyers. They are crucial to the success of our Youth Reserve Program, and we are fortunate to have both at the Ohio State Fair," stated General Manager Virgil Strickler. "We are exceptionally pleased with the $264,000 raised at today's Sale of Champions."

    Advertising & Marketing
    The Ohio State Fair had an advertising of budget of $330,000, about the same as last year, but the allocations were shifted. "We took a break from movie theater advertising in 2014 but brought it back this year," she said. "We also enhanced our digital advertising buys by using more diversified artwork targeted to different audiences, and closely monitored the success of the ads and reacted by increasing the frequency of more successful ads and dropping buys for sizes that weren't performing as well."

    Social media was also pushed to a new level. Instead of dividing social media tasks among the marketing employees, "for the first time, we hired a social media specific intern to handle the entire load of social media rather," said Shoults.
    Another first was a Facebook Bluetooth Beacon, placed "within a radius of about 500 feet placed in the box office of our concert venue, the Celeste Center, during the Fair to show patrons visiting us to "place tips" which include reviews from their friends who have visited the Fair, recent posts, and encourages visitors to "check in" or "like" the Fair Facebook page," she said.

    Social media became  the online information resource when the Ohio State Fair's website went down for three days during the Fair. "We relied heavily on social media and email marketing to communicate answers to the most frequently asked questions with our patrons," she said. "Specifically, we added relevant information , copies of our daily schedules, special days, hours, admission prices, etc., to our Facebook page, and opened a Dropbox folder with access to pertinent files and information. We also continued to treat these outlets as a customer service tool, promptly responding to questions."

    Social media is no longer an add-on to a fair's marketing program, but is now redefining the promotional philosophy of live events. "Social media has drastically changed Fair marketing, allowing us to electronically market directly to our consumers rather than through the media," said Shoults.  "This means that we are able to post videos, photos and answer questions in real time. We can easily promote specific aspects of the Fair and highlight particular items of note with stunning photography, interesting videos and clever posts. In addition, we are able to take advantage of advertising opportunities by reaching the right consumers with sponsored posts and tweets, which helps us to grow our audience each year."

    The most effective social media promotion for the Ohio State Fair were concert ticket giveaways, "We set a social media calendar with a few giveaways each week for different types of concerts leading up to the Fair," she said. "Each giveaway receives hundreds of entries and engagement, thus promoting the Fair and its concerts." 

    Midway Improvements
    The midway featured 75 rides, which was about the same as last year. The midway ride gross was $2.5 million. New rides included a Zero Gravity, and a Pharaoh's Fury. The most popular rides were the Sky Glider, which is owned by the Ohio State Fair, the Giant Slide, Giant Wheel, Sky Wheel, Expo Wheel, Crazy Mouse, Space Roller, and Fireball "The weather was tremendous, we had a great line up of rides, and we had our biggest midway there," said Rob Vivona, Manager, Amusements of America. . "We had some new additions and the fair made some improvements to the grounds which helped the flow of pedestrians. When you make the midway more comfortable for people, they stay longer and that helps revenue."

    According to Vivona,, the improvements were relatively minor - a building was removed and a walkway was extended - but the result was a larger expanse for the Amusements of America presentation. "We were able to make Kiddie Land bigger, adding a ride. Our midway was packed with concessions. Whenever a fair makes us look better, that is a good thing."

    The carnival company expanded its game collection by 24, for a total 78 games, plus eight more food vendors and a two more straight sale vendors. More was the merrier for the midway, attracting more fairgoers and giving them more reasons to linger in the exciting and fun world of Amusements of America. 

    "We had several days that were either on par or the best single day we've ever had at the Ohio State Fair," he said. "We had our best Wednesday we ever had at the fair, those middle of the weeks were much stronger than they were last year. Saturdays on Sundays weren't record days, but they were right on par with last year." 

    The Ohio State Fair was a stellar stop for this carnival company, marking a strong start of the final stretch of its season. "There was a lot of rain in the spring and Summer, but July and August have been some of the best we've had and we were really able to start doing what we do best, it's turning into a great year," added Vivona.

    REBA Sells Out
    The 2015 Ohio State Fair Hyundai Concert Series, at the10,000+-seat WCOL Celeste Center featured a range of artists including Alabama, Patti LaBelle, Jake Owen, Deep Purple with special guest Nazareth, and a 70s double-dream-bill of Peter Frampton and Cheap Trick. The Ohio State Fair also were stops on two major artist tours, the REBA tour by country legend Reba McEntire and Meghan Trainor: The MTrain Tour. "We had two sold-out shows this year: REBA and Meghan Trainor," she said. 

    Although the entertainment lineup was considered successful, in terms of talent buying for the 2015 fair, Shoults admitted, "It was, most definitely, a seller's market."

    Food and beverage revenue was approximately $5.2 million, with 191 food vendors, although the cuisine trended away from the more outrageous concoctions. One of the most popular new items was more traditional Pizza where presentation and quality were key. " Fire N' The Hole" was a new vendor selling wood-fired pizza in a very aesthetically-pleasing booth," said Shoults.

    She noted that there "weren't any particular new hot trends this year.

    In keeping with the Ohio spirit and agricultural celebration of the Ohio State Food, local products were impressively popular with fairgoers. "The Dairy Products Building continues to be one of our most popular food locations, at which ice cream, milkshakes and cheese sandwiches are sold," said Shoults. "We have worked with Ohio-based ice cream company Velvet Ice Cream to make an exclusive flavor of ice cream available only at the Ohio State Fair the last three years, and it was again incredibly popular this year with the newest flavor, elephant ear ice cream."

    Other Ohio-centric food items that were popular " include deep-fried buckeyes, Ohio Roast Corn, Bourbon Chicken, Cox Corral with barbecue items, and the Taste of Ohio Cafe , where Ohio farmers serve meals from the various commodity groups: pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, dairy, wine, etc.," she said, adding "Schmidt's Sausage Haus, a local restaurant that sells German food and celebrated 101 years at the Fair this summer."

  • Marketing "Tweaks" Turns California State Fair Spectacular
    The California State Fair selected "The Best 17 Days of Summer" as its marketing theme for  2015, invoking the eclectic nature of the fair. There's a something for everybody attitude to this more than two week extravaganza,  which features more than 3,000 exhbits. This abundance of things for fairgoers to enjoy justifies the boast inherent in this year's motto, which also effectively rode the coattails of last year's theme, 'Celebrating the best of the best!', which Jennifer Castleberry, Marketing Director, described as now "over-arching marketing theme" for the entire fairgrounds and California State Fair brand.

    But a catchy catchphrase was only the starting point for a marketing and promotional strategy that pushed this year's edition of California State Fair into one of the best-ever territory. "We had a spectacular fair," said Castleberry. 

    How spectacular? Attendance was 787,833, up 5 percent in 2015, more than 37,000 additional visitors compared to 2014. Looking at the per-day figures, the fair had its average daily total attendance, 45,992, was the highest since 2007. The average daily paid attendance was the highest in 10 years - up 4.1 percent from 556,440 to 579,338. The Fair celebrated its best opening Saturday and Sunday in nine years (total attendance) and its best opening week in ten years (total attendance).

    Shattering Records
    For Castleberry, the fair lived up to its tagline. "This year's Fair was truly the best 17 days of summer," she said. "We shattered records and celebrated the best of  California each and every day."

    Shattered records also included revenue spikes for the Butler Amusements Midway and Food & Beverage sales. While the event enjoyed warm, near-perfect fair weather, the California State Fair 2015 surge can mainly be credited to its new marketing strategies, which included promotions beginning earlier in the year, more strategic mix of ad placement, a revamped social media program was implemented, and more news coverage due to new content, such as drone racing and a new "fair chef." 

    With this new strategy, Castleberry feels that "we were able to target different people better. We showcase a lot of new events, like our Beer Festival and our Horse Racing, we have something for everybody. We showcased education, competition, technology, food and entertainment, everything California is known for. We hosted the inaugural National Drone Racing Championships this year. Racers from all over the world and organizations such as the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA and the American Modeling Academy attended. In addition, national and international media outlets covered the races."

    New content that appealed to a high amount of niche demographics achieved this desired affect through a new promotional approach. "The fair implemented several new tweaks to its marketing strategies, including an earlier launch, shifting of media allocations, new advertising venues and an innovative expansion into new social media platforms," she said.

    Earlier Push
    Instead of May for the July fair, the Fair's marketing launched in April. "We had an earlier blitz, we do a lot of concert promotions and we sold out five shows this year in our Toyota Stage Concert Series."  Sold out of refers to the 1,500-1,700 Gold Seating tickets in the 35,000-seat grandstand. Some of the most popular shows included: Air Supply - 40th Anniversary Tour, Britt Nicole, Ashanti, Martina McBride: The Everlasting Tour., 38 Special, and Chase Rice. 

    In addition to the earlier launch, "Marketing elements appeared throughout the region", said Castleberry. One of the more unique new spots was at the Arden Fair Mall, a regional shopping mall. "They have a 3-sided HD video wall that covers their elevator that was used to promote the Fair in a bold, brilliant way. It was a way we were able to showcase a lot of what we do." 

    The fair's advertising budget was $774,000, spent in digital, radio, outdoor, TV and print. But with the earlier marketing push, and its emphasis on concert promotion, the allocation shifted, according to Castleberry. The radio budgeted was boosted to $123,000, from under $90,000 last year and Outdoor went to $194,000, compared to $170,000 last year. "Most of the money came from television, where we made more targeted buys," we also ended up looking at our digital buys, we revaluated certain channels and certain groups where we advertise, and this year we were able to purchase ads for their highest effectiveness, overall click-throughs and overall ROI's." 

    Up Periscope
    The California State Fair also added the latest social media platforms. "This year we used Periscope to live stream some events, we added a Snap Chat filter and used more user-generated photos to make our posts more authentic," said Castleberry."

    With Periscope, a live streaming platform, the fair was able to live stream various events, such as the inaugural drone race, births in the nursery areas of the baby barns and cooking demonstrations. "We are able to get more notifications out on Facebook and Twitter. We were able to get the information out as it was happening." 

    In addition, the fair grew its Facebook following from 108,000 to 165,500 and Twitter to more than 9,100, up by more than 28 percent from last year. The new State Fair App was downloaded by 19,833 people and from May 1st to the fair, the website had 961,862 total unique visitors and 4,091,626 page views.

    Food Festival
    The California State Fair is considered the largest food festival in Northern California, according to Castleberry. The middle Saturday of the Fair (July 18) was the single highest paid attendance in more than 10 years at 66,469 and had the largest food and beverage sales in the history of the California State Fair with nearly $1.1 million in a single day. She said that food and beverage sales " broke records in 2014 with sales at $8.3 million and that trend continued in 2015 with gross sales increasing 14 percent with more than $9.5 million in sales in 17 days."

    The most popular food category was barbecue, and Castleberry said nearly "$1 million was spent at the barbecue stands at the Fair." One stand, Terry's Barbecue, recorded $413,177 in sales.
    She added that "the majority of food vendors saw increases in sales." Top performing food vendors included Cardinali's Pizza ( up 53 percent), Pepe's Mariscos ( up 11 percent), and Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls (up 14 percent)s. She added that Wine Slushie sales were up 20 percent and that a "revamped Craft Brew Pub saw an 87 percent increase in sales." 

    While a new food vendor with a healthier profile - Fruit Juice in a Fruit, which served juice in a bowl made from a hollowed out fruit, such as a watermelon or pineapple, other more indulgent and popular examples of fair cuisine included: lobster fries, the deep fried pastrami pizza and the chocolate bacon wrapped peanut butter cup and the bacon-wrapped corn on the cob.

    New food excitement at the California State Fair was not limited to the usual fair food vendor suspects. The fair hired an official State Fair Chef, Keith Breedlove. "His personality attracted large crowds for his cooking demonstrations in our Farm and Kitchen areas," said Castleberry. Most of the ingredients used by the newly appointed chef were fresh California produce, bringing added attention to the agricultural mission of this annual Golden State event. The fair has a 3.5 acre demonstration farm, where much of Chef Breedlove's ingredients were grown. "The Food Network also filmed an episode featuring him during the Fair," said Castleberry. 

    Also new for the fair was the first Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, which was included tastings and educational information about this growing segment of California's agricultural industry. " PBS' America's Heartland did a feature episode on California's Olive Oil industry, featuring our competition," Castleberry added. 

    Butler Midway
    It was the seventh year for Butler Amusements to provide the California State Fair midway, which featured 70 rides. According to the fair, midway sales were up 13.5 percent from 2014, reaching $4,651,109, an increase of $556,013. "The final Saturday of the Fair proved to be the largest grossing day for the carnival in the history of the California State Fair," said Castleberry.

    "We had a great fair, and the biggest single day gross in our history at the California State Fair," said Lance Moyer, COO of Butler Amusements. 
    The most effective promotion was a $2 day, which considering the robust fairgoer turnout, Moyer said "our traffic was up substantially, but it also spread the crowd out throughout the fair."

    Butler Amusements also had a pay one price wristband every day of the fair - $30 per weekday/$35 weekends - "we are getting more customers for the pay one price promotion, so we are now doing it every day of the fair," said Moyer. 

    He added that the 2015 season has been a positive one for the midway. "It's been a really good year, grosses have been up, attendance has been up," he said. 

    Drought Policies
     Of course, the inescapable California fact this summer is its severe drought and water shortage. New water conservation measure were more noticeable this year, such as the Fair's main lagoon was not filled for the first time, except for one portion,  "filled a foot deep and was used to showcase two 120 foot long Chinese dragon lanterns. The other section was dry and home to the FMX motorcycle show," said Castleberry.

    In addition, while the fair did permit the midway to have a Flume Log Ride and Splash Dog Pool, most the water used "was recycled" throughout the fairgrounds. The California State Fair also utilized the large water amounts in the Butler Amusement log ride and the Splash Dogs pool.  "The fair made an effort to use and/or re-use every drop of water," said Castleberry.

    Mainly, the fair became an education and information center for the current state of the drought. "The California State Fair used the on-going drought for positive educational messaging," said Castleberry. The Fair pushed water conservation throughout the Fairgrounds including the livestock pavilions, around grassy areas that had turned golden (i.e., no longer green) because of the water restrictions." 

    "We wish to thank the public for its overwhelming support of the California State Fair," said Rick Pickering, CEO of the California Exposition & State Fair. "The 2015 State Fair, through such themes as education, competition, technology, food, water conservation, entertainment and celebration, further showcased the ever growing leadership role that Californians play in our region, nation and world."

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1. Texas State Fair - Dallas, TX
2. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
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The Industry Buzz
Browns Amusements adds Freak Out & Groovy Bus for 2016

Danny and Sherry Brown, owners of Arizona based Brown's Amusements announced the purchase of a new Freak Out from KMG, which is set to be delivered during the spring of 2016.  "We're real excited about the new piece and what it will bring to our events", Brown said of the Freak Out.  In addition to the Freak Out, the show also purchased a new SBF Groovy Bus from Rides-4U as well as a new food trailer from Hitch-Hiker.  "I always liked the look of the Groovy Bus since I first saw it in Gibtown and decided it would be a great fit for our midway", Brown echoed.

In addition to the new purchases, Brown reported that the show picked up a couple of new events in Idaho and surrounding areas.  The show has had a solid season so far and will wrap up the 2015 season in October with some events in the Phoenix area.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 8/20/2015
Rainbow Valley Rides co-founder Ronald Kedrowicz passes
Ronald A. Kedrowicz, co-founder of Wisconsin based Rainbow Valley Rides, passed away on Saturday July 25, 2015 at Seasons of Life Hospice Center in Woodruff, WI at the age of 79.

He was born Dec. 29, 1935 in the Town of Sharon, WI. He is the son of the late Joseph & Florence (Kielpinski) Kedrowicz.

He entered the US Navy on March 22, 1956 at Great Lakes, IL. He served on the USS Valley Forge and was honorably discharged on Jan. 27, 1958 at Norfolk, VA.
His marriage to Lorraine Yenter took place on Nov. 8, 1958 at St. Adalbert Catholic Church in Rosholt, she survives.

Ronald was employed by Consolidated Papers in Paper Board Products for several years. In 1973 the couple started their carnival business, Rainbow Valley Rides Inc. Transferring the business to their sons at their retirement in 2010.

Survivors include his wife Lorraine, two daughters: Renee (Jeff) Budsberg of Shanty Town and Doreen (Randy) Krusick of Amherst. Two sons: Ronald "Chip" (Teri) Kedrowicz of Custer and Joseph (Christa) Kedrowicz of Stevens Point. 10 Grandchildren and 2 Great grandchildren. One brother: Rhody (Kathy) Kedrowicz of Wisconsin Rapids.  He is preceded in death by 1 infant granddaughter Bailey.

A memorial in his name will be established at a later date.

Funeral Mass will be 10:30 AM Wednesday Aug. 5, 2015 at St. Maximilian Kolby Catholic Church in Almond. Rev. James Trempe officiating. Burial will take place in St. Martin's cemetery in Buena Vista. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 PM on Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015 at the Pisarski/Dzikoski Funeral Home at 703 Second St. in Stevens Point and from 9:00 AM until the time of services Wednesday morning at the Church. A rosary will be prayed at 7:00 PM on Tuesday evening at the funeral home. Pisarski Funeral Homes is honored to be serving the family.

For on line condolences please visit
  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 7/29/2015
Billy Burr passes
BILLY BURR, passed away over the weekend, former owner of Burr’s "FUN-O-RAMA," a carnival that operated in the Northeast.  Billy was a long time board member of the OABA and Trustee in 1990.  He was inducted into the OABA Hall of Fame in 2000.  A reputable carnival owner, his lure was to the CIRCUS, as he was an active CFA and Showfolks Club member, living in the Sarasota area, after selling his show.    
As Wayne McCary said, "Sad to hear about the death of Billy Burr. He was a legendary New England showmen, circus fan and a perfect gentlemen.  Glad we put him in the Hall of Fame, when he could still enjoy the honor."

  Posted by OABA on 7/13/2015
J&J Amusements Shirley Richardson passes
J&J Amusements matriarch Shirley Richardson passed away on June 28, 2015 unexpectedly at her home. Shirley was the mother of four children including J&J owner John Richardson Sr. She had ten grandchildren and twenty-one great children. Shirley had traveled from Florida to Ohio a few weeks back ( while battling cancer) because she simply had spots that she had to keep working! She developed many long term relationships with the events she worked, including the Canfield Fair in Ohio which she worked for more than 62 years.  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 7/1/2015
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


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

JKJ Workforce - the experts in foreign labor in the mobile amusement industry!  Visit

Luna Park manufacturers and sells quality amusement rides worldwide.  Visit us at or at the IAAPA and IISF Gibtown trade shows!

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