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  • Nebraska State Fair Achieves Record Year at New Grand Island Location
    The Nebraska State Fair moved to its new location in Grand Island in 2010. The 2016 State Fair broke the attendance record at the Grand Island location with 361,107 people; a 2% increase from last year's fair. According to the fair's Executive Director, Joseph McDermott, their attendance numbers are steadily approaching the overall attendance goal for the Nebraska State Fair. McDermott attributes the fair's increasing attendance and overall success to the fair's commitment to bring a variety of entertainment, food, exhibits, and rides for people of all ages to enjoy. 
    The Nebraska State Fair organizes an extensive and varied list of concerts for customers to enjoy. Headliners such as Thomas Rhett, Lady Antebellum, Train, John Anderson, Chris Tomlin, Toto, Charlie Puth, and Grand Island Native, Hannah Huston, drew large crowds. The Nebraska State Fairgrounds features an indoor and an outdoor concert venue. The outside venue seats 13,000 people and hosted the three biggest concerts: Thomas Rhett, Lady Antebellum, and Train. Thomas Rhett sold 10,000 tickets, Lady Antebellum sold 4,000 tickets, and Train (the Sunday night concert) sold 2,000. While the Nebraska State Fair had great success with its concert lineup, McDermott explained that booking headliners for the state fair has become more challenging over the years. The Nebraska State Fair competes with two large concert venues: Pinnacle Bank Arena about 90 miles away and Century Link Center about 50 miles away. "These venues bring in big names all year round. Many of the acts we want at the fair that would draw a big crowd play those venues and you don't want to book them both at the arena and at the state fair." 
    For more family entertainment, the Nebraska State Fair features several ground acts and strolling performers. State Fair regulars such as the petting zoo and racing pigs are featured every year and new acts such as a BMX Stunt Team, World Champion Lumber Jill, and Matt's Family Jam add variety to the fair's normal lineup. McDermott says the staff strives to achieve the perfect balance; "We want to keep things fresh but still maintain the popular acts." Additionally, the Nebraska State Fair is sure to bring back popular food vendors and always have something new for customers to try. According to McDermott, the two most popular stands at the far were the Cactus Jack's smoked meat stand and the Nebraska beef pit. One of the new foods people loved to try were fried eggs on a stick from a new stand the fair featured this year. 
    Of course, one of the easiest ways to keep families entertained at the fair is providing an extensive carnival midway. The Wade Shows midway featured a combination of 43 thrill and family rides. This year, they brought four new rides: The Mighty Mouse (a major roller coaster), the Street Fighter Revolution which spins in a complete 360 degree circle rather than the original 90 degrees, a brand new Puppy Roll ride for kids and families, and the Jungle Twist Roller Coaster, another kiddie ride. McDermott cited a fantastic relationship between Wade Shows and the Nebraska State Fair;  McDermott says it's easy to market and advertise with Wade Shows as the company is always willing to try out new deals and packages with the fair. 
    The Nebraska State Fair just extended Wade Shows' contract for five more years. "They do a wonderful job when it comes to presentation. Their landscaping and resting areas make for a beautiful midway," says McDermott. Frank Zaitshik, the CEO of Wade Shows, says he is honored to have an extended contract with the Nebraska State Fair.  " I certainly appreciate the vote of confidence from the Nebraska State Fair team and the agreement speaks to our mutual commitment for a long term, successful relationship." Despite a couple of weather setbacks, Wade Shows was able to achieve similar revenue numbers to the 2015 Nebraska State Fair. 
    The Nebraska State Fair is traditionally an agriculturally based fair and features strong 4H and FFA programs. FFA and 4H run all the livestock exhibits as well as some domestic-type exhibits such as photography and cooking. Mid-week, FFA and 4H hosts open class livestock shows which are very popular with the fair crowd. Additionally, the agriculture department of the fair offers combine rides for customers the last week of the fair. The combine rides are a unique feature at the fair and a fun way for customers to get involved with the agricultural aspect of the Nebraska State Fair. 

    Grand Island is in the middle of Nebraska, away from major population areas, making advertising for the Nebraska State Fair crucial. The marketing team faces the challenge of spreading the details about the fair to the East and West far reaches of the state. McDermott says that the fair staff strategically planned certain activities during the fair to draw crowds from all over the state. For example, new this year, the fair featured high school and college volleyball tournaments (a sport very popular in Nebraska) during opening weekend. The Nebraska State Fair also capitalized on the recent running craze and hosted a full and half marathon for the second year in a row to draw a different demographic to the fair. McDermott says the number of runners has doubled in two years and they expect the upward trend to continue. 
    The Nebraska State Fair operates with a $400,000 advertising budget and has an extensive media mix: online/social media, electronic billboards, bus sides, print, television, and radio. Additionally, the fair has a great relationship with local news stations; two stations, an ABC and a NBC affiliate broadcast live during the fair, helping to spread the word to the whole state. The fair also hosts several admission deal days throughout the fair to draw in more customers: $2 Tuesday, $3 Thursday, and $5 Monday and Wednesday admission are  very popular and help to offset the weaker attendance on weekdays versus weekends. Like many other state and county fairs, McDermott says that the Nebraska State Fair has been placing more focus on social media advertising. "'We host a Facebook special for $6 admission on weekends instead of the $12 at the gate admission. Social media deals work very well for us and we've seen an increase in customers taking advantage of those deals." 

    Overall, the Nebraska State Fair has a budget of $7.5 million. $3-$3.5 million comes from the Nebraska Lottery Proceeds and the rest of the operating budget is money generated at the fair from various sponsorships and gate admission. The Nebraska State Fair utilizes their budget wisely: divvying up the funds to hire the best vendors, entertainers, and midway, as well as organizing productive and educational exhibits for customers to enjoy. Year after year, the Nebraska State Fair provides fun for the Cornhusker State. 

  • Despite Challenges, 2016 Wisconsin State Fair Sees 4th year of Attendance Exceeding One Million
    The Wisconsin State Fair confronted two significant challenges this year - an internal scandal made public three months before the fair and a violent, near city-wide protest during the final weekend of the fair. 

    In May, Rick Frenette, an industry veteran who had been Executive Director of the fair since 2010, was fired. The dismissal, the result of dispute over salary increases and bonuses, was a local scandal well covered in the Wisconsin media. Kathleen O'Leary, who was the chief operating officer, was named interim Executive Director, taking the helm for the 2016 event, allowing the dust to settle from the controversy, and postponing the search for Frenette's replacement until after the fair.

    The other challenge was the closing weekend of the fair coincided with a tragedy that has become all too familiar in the U.S. On August 13, Milwaukee police lethally shot a 23 year old African American, setting off two days of rioting, which include burning of a gas station, buildings and cars as well as violent confrontations with police and citizens in the Sherman Park neighborhood of the city, less than six miles from the fairgrounds. The entire city was tense and on alert, and no place more so than the highest profile of the year for the city - The Wisconsin State Fair.

    Greatest Days
    O'Leary said that any lingering negative publicity from the dismissal had long faded by opening day. "The  2016 fair was very successful," said O'Leary. "the challenges we as a staff faced, I feel we did an exceptional job. We bill the fair as the Greatest 11 days of Summer, it was a celebration of Agriculture and Wisconsin." 

    Just prior to opening day of the fair, O'Leary announced she would be "vying for the position," of Executive Director, a search expected to begin this month (September). 

    She credited Frenette with putting together a very talented staff and everything moved forward. "Attendance was down slightly, but revenue was up. Spin City was up 2 percent. At the onset, when I took the helm of this great fair, there was a concern but we had a successful fair."

    In addition to an uptick in Spin City revenue, the fair had two sold out shows,  Shawn Mendes and Rascal Flatts, with approximately 10,000 in attendance. 

    The 2016 fair, which also was 165th Wisconsin State Fair, had 1,015,815 attendance, while a dip of about 20,000 compared to 2015 - a record year - it marked the 4th consecutive year of attendance topping one million. State Fair attendance the past 3 years: 1,012,552 in 2013, 1,030,881 in 2014 and 1,033,053 in 2015.  

    Police Shooting
    The closing day was one of the best closing days in this four year run of success, but mainly because the fair immediately responded to the Sherman Park shooting incident. O'Leary described Milwaukee, after the police shooting and citizen protests, "as a city of unrest, there was a terrible fallout after the incident.  We are in an urban setting and to have rioting so close to our fair was unnerving, But there wasn't a place in Milwaukee that was safer than the fair."

    She praised law enforcement, which came from several jurisdictions and precincts as well as 30 state troopers. "We all worked together, and set up a command post. We created a safe environment without imposing on our guests."

    With violent incidents dominating the headlines, most fairs reexamined their security procedures and implemented new protocols. The Wisconsin State Fair was no exception, this year they installed metal detectors at the gates. O'Leary said costs exceeded $25,000 which included reconfiguring seven gates to handle the system, as well as enhancing staff and training personnel. "It was not an easy decision, but safety is our most important seller," said O'Leary. "It was the right decision, considering the world we live in today. Guests had a sense of security they hadn't had before, and people are used to security procedures. We didn't really receive any complaints, but people are used to higher security. It's the world we live in."

    Weather Woes
    Weather was generally cooperative, although periods of rain and heat probably accounted for much of the decline in attendance. "Wisconsin is open to intense heat,  but even with some storms on opening day, we had a record breaking weekend, she said. "We did have some record breaking heat, it got extremely hot, and heat is the nemesis, heat can be ten times worse than rain.  Families, especially those with younger kids, either don't come out in the heat."

    The weather was ideal by closing weekend, which O'Leary said was record breaking. "I think there was pent up demand, and a validation that when we get the weather, they want to come out to the fair." 

    While O'Leary declined to disclose total fair revenue figures, "our preliminary numbers are up," she said. "There is no more affordable entertainment spending than the Wisconsin State Fair, for the price of admission and the multiple discounts we offer, that the people of Wisconsin love the fair. People in Wisconsin are fiscally prudent, how  you spend the dollar is important, and even things are better comically, they come to the fair for the value."

    She added, "Fairs are the last bastion of Americana, and our mission is to showcase the Agricultural industry, and all the positive attributes of the ag industry. Wisconsin's agricultural industry - according to O'Leary - has been healthy in recent years, and entries, competitions and other indications of the industry "are on part with last year."

    For the agricultural  exhibitors, O'Leary implemented a new receivership policy - rescheduling when large trucks load and unload during the fair. "This was a large change in the how we handle the trucks," said O'Leary. "We simplified the procedures and made it easy and convenient for our exhibitors, and less disturbing for the fair. It was incredibly successful, we improved the timing of the rigs and they moved into clean barns. It was a relatively significant change, although very subtle." 

    New Promotions
    The fair did implemented a new promotion,  Humana Senior Day, which "did very well. But Kohl's Family Value Day was our most successful promotion in terms of attendance - we had a record breaking Monday this year, the day of the promotion, with more than 90,000 in attendance. 

    The fair used  Snapchat for the first time this year, and were also featured in a national snapchat story featuring "State Fair Foods," "which was very exciting and lots of fun," said Kristi Chuckel, Communications & Marketing Manager.

    The Wisconsin State Fair has one of the largest selections of fair cuisine among all the Midwest fairs, with more than 200 vendors every year. According to Chuckel,, there were more than 80 new food vendors. In addition, an estimated 315,000 Original Cream Puffs - a signature food of the Wisconsin State Fair - were sold, as well as 105,000 ears of corn, 55,000 Real Wisconsin Cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, 50,000 Wisconsin Baked Potatoes  were sold in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion, and 5,000 Klement's Famous Racing Sausages Corn Dogs eaten.
    The 4th Annual Food Competition, The Sporkies, a high-profile fair event with a panel of celebrity judges, including: LeRoy Butler - Super Bowl Champion,  Steve Palec - Milwaukee radio veteran, host of Rock 'n Roll Roots on WKLH for 29 years, Donny Most - Ralph Malph from TV's Happy Days and Anson Williams, best known for Potsie, another beloved Happy Days Character (Happy Days was set in Milwaukee).

    The Root Beer Float Cake - Sprecher Landing & Sprecher Root Beer Everything, won first place in the Sporkies competition, followed by Klement's Famous Racing Sausages Corn Dog - Saz's Bavarian Haus; Deep Fried Ol' Fashioned - Water Street Brewery. Other finalists included:  Chili-Mac Bottom Pizza - Brew City, Deep Fried Ol' Fashioned - Water Street Brewery, Elvis Chicken and Waffle Sandwich - Slim's Lakefront Brew Pub & Eatery; Fiesta Cookie Dough On-A-Stick - Cookie Dough Fondue; Mountain Man Bloody Mary Burger - Exotic Meat Grill; and the Thanksgiving Day Burrito - Mexican Grill. 

    Spin City Up
    Spin City - the fair's independent midway - had about 50 rides this year, an allotment consistent with other years.

    "We didn't have any new rides at this fair," said Shari Black, Director of Event Services, Wisconsin State Fair. "The Rock-It was a popular ride and that came after not being here for a few years. We kept a lot of our mainstays, such as the Super Nova Coaster, Hurricane and Gondola Wheel."

    "We are always trying to improve the midway," said Black. "We added new plants and landscaping, we want it to be a nice and welcoming environment. We added new umbrellas. 

    The midway featured 30 games, which Black said have actually become more popular. "People always enjoy the games, they remind you of their childhood. We have come very great game operators."

    Nostalgia may determine game popularity -"the Bottle Up was the probably the biggest game, everybody seems to play the Bottle Up," said Black - but current trends dominated the plush. "Paw Patrol were hot items, but there was a lot of Pokemon prizes. Everyone wanted a Pikachu, they were all over the midway."

    The Wisconsin State Fair is also one of the largest independent midways in the U.S., a format the fair plans to continue. "We take pride in that we produce a great product," said Black. "It's much more labor intensive on the fair's end. We're there on the midway all the time, we do the entire ticketing system and take care of all the operational aspects. But we get to cherry pick what rides and games we want on the midway, and we get to pick what operators we want to work with. For an independent midway, you have make sure all the T's are crossed, but we work with a lot of great ride operators who are very professional." 

  • New Carnival, Attendance Increase for 2016 Oregon State Fair
    The Oregon State Fair attendance increased by ten percent in 2016. Manager Don Hillman says the fair had 295,600 pure, unique visits. In the past three years, the fair has drawn 81,000 extra people without expanding the dates of the fair. "We take getting people into the gates very seriously. In fact, it's our only job. It's then up to our partners inside the fair to entertain the customers and make money. As long as we get people in the gate, our partners are happy." 
    Regular gate prices are $8 for adults, $6 for kids (6-12), and kids 5 and under are free. This year, the fair team tried out a special where seniors were admitted for just $1. The promotion went very well and the fair saw an increase in senior attendance at the fair. 
    Additionally, the fair provided four admission specials this year. On opening day, admission was only $1.50; "We wanted a huge opening day to kick off a huge weekend," says Hillman. After opening weekend, the fair team does surprise admission Monday. Only about 10 people on the fair team know what the admission price will be and it is announced to the public through social media on Monday morning. This year, admission on Monday was $1. 
    The last special day the fair provided was military/veterans/first responders day; all military personnel, veterans, and first responders plus their families got in for free. 
    These three specials were planned and advertised; However, on the morning of opening day, the fair team decided last minute to provide free admission to be used any day of the fairs to the customers who came to the fair that day. "We had a 90 degree day on opening day. It was miserably hot, so we gave everyone free passes to come back. We handed out 20,000 passes and 9,000 people came back" says Hillman. Hillman and the fair team were very pleased with the result of the specials. 
    The Oregon State Fair is a unique operation. The State owns the fairgrounds but does not run the fair. Instead, the Oregon State Fair is operated by the State Fair Council, a municipal corporation. Hillman says that moving from a state run fair to a state fair council operation has been a blessing. The State Fair Council has fewer full time employees than a state-run operation would have. Hillman says "the five or so full time employees are nimble, quick, and reactive to what's happening. Now that the state does not run the fair, we can skip a lot of the bureaucratic rules and red tape when making decisions for the fair." According to Hillman, decisions like handing out free admission passes on opening day would not have been possible if the fair was state run. 
    In addition to getting people in the gates, the State Fair Council focuses on providing plenty of entertainment for fairgoers. Every night of the fair (except HIspanic Culture Night), a big musical act performs in their 8,500 seat theater. Tickets to the concerts are free with admission. However, the theater features 2,500 gold circle seats which can be purchased for additional charge. The gold circle seats costs $35 but includes admission into the fair. "The gold circle seating is a great buy for customers because it guarantees them a good seat at the concert. All other seating is first come first serve" says Hillman. 
    Hunter Hayes, Foerigner, Melissa Etheridge, Pat Benetar, Mercy Me, and Montgomery Gentry are a few of the acts included in the 2016 Oregon State Fair lineup. The Oregon State Fair does not have a specific, budgeted amount for entertainment fees. Instead, the State Fair Council tells the entertainment buyer to get acts that will fill all the seats in the theater. "We give our entertainment buyer a goal; fill 2,500 seats at $35 a seat. He achieved his goal at almost every concert" says Hillman. 
    The Oregon State Fair has five stages other than the concert venue. One of their most popular stages, the Familyville Stage, features family friendly shows every hour. The Oregon State Fair hires a clown, a hypnotist, a petting zoo, and pig races. Stage performances as well as strolling and street performers are booked to help increase the guest experience. Hillman says the fair finds themselves hiring most of the same entertainers every year; "We stay consistent to the formula. If the performer draws crowds then we definitely want them to come back next year." Starting three years ago, the Oregon State Fair uniquely welcomed street performers to come to the fair to perform for tips. According to Hillman, the customers love the performances and the street performers always do well. 
    This year, the Oregon State Fair tried out a new carnival provider. Rainier Amusements partnered with a California amusement company to bring 45 rides to the Oregon State Fair. Rainier Amusements featured five new rides at the fair and brought crowd favorites such as the Giant Wheel and a featured roller coaster. The carnival gross was up fifteen percent; Hillman believes part of the carnival's success was due to their advance sale deal with Walgreens. Rainier Amusements collected over $700,000 from pre-sale. 
    The Oregon State Fair has a strong agricultural presence. 4H and FFA run lots of programs during the fair. The first seven days of the fair, there is a draft horse show which fills a 2500 seat stadium. The last four or five days of the fair, they host an open class horse show; a very popular event for customers. In the 4H auditorium, 4H hosts a fashion shows and other domestic exhibits. 4H featured a new robotics exhibit this year which drew large crowds and took up about 1/3 of the building. Participation in 4H events at the Oregon State Fair has increased over the years: opposing the national trend. 
    Of course, the Oregon State Fair has a lot of delicious food for customers to enjoy. According to Hillman, one of the most popular foods at the fair is a turkey leg wrapped in bacon. "The food stands that cook food in front of you and outside tend to do better" says Hillman. Pork chops on a stick, and BBQ chicken stands always have long lines and satisfied customers at the Oregon State Fair. 
    One of the most important aspects of running a state fair is the advertising. The Oregon State Fair has a $450,000 advertising budget which accounts for about ten percent of their revenue. Hillman says that they do not spend any of their advertising budget on print.  Instead, the focus is on social media advertising, radio, and television. On social media, the Oregon State Fair media team hosts giveaways and contests in order to increase online sales and chatter about the event. Hillman credits his media team for a lot of the fair's success; "We have the best media team. They know how to communicate a message and get it out there quickly to attract as many customers as possible to the fair." 
    The Oregon State Fair operates with an overall budget of $5 million which. The transition from a state run fair to a council-run fair has proved to be a positive change for the Oregon State Fair.

  • Independent Ride Owner Mike Demas takes delivery of new KMG Konga in time for Dallas
    ST. PAUL, Minn. --- Mike Demas is widely recognized as one of the best independent ride operators in the carnival industry. As proof, Demas has been a mainstay at the Minnesota State Fair for many years, booking his spectacular attractions on the Mighty Midway.

    This year, his KMG Rock-It stood front and center in Minnesota, as it has since its debut here in 2010. Demas has owned the ride for 11 years and he says it's been grossing more money this year it did when he first got the piece in 2005.

    The ride is modeled after KMG's Freak Out, but its motion takes the extra spin-tingling step by taking riders through a full 360-degree swing compared with its predecessor. 

    "Its appeal will not fall off," Demas said. "You eliminate some of your market when you go upside down ... for this ride, it takes more of a risk-taker."

    The Rock-It placed ninth among the Mighty Midway's top attractions, according to data supplied by Jim Sinclair, the state fair's deputy manager. 

    All told, Minnesota's 61 total rides grossed $4,084,481.41  million, a record for the fair since it went independent in 1995. In dollars, the gross was up $136,548.30  over the 2015 event, amounting to a 3.5 percent increase. Notably, the fair has not increased ride and game tickets since 2014, Sinclair said.

    It was good news for Demas as he winds down the 2016 season and introduces a new piece at the State Fair of Texas, which runs Sept. 30 through Oct. 23. The same "risk takers" who flock to rides such as the Freak Out and Rock-It should also gravitate to the Konga, another KMG product. 

    The manufacturer named it the X-Factor and Demas went with a jungle theme for a ride that costs more than $600,000. It arrived in mid-September at a port in Baltimore, according to KMG's website.

    Demas described it as a "Gee Wizz type" attraction. It fits on one truck and has the flexibility to fit in smaller locations. It appeals to a younger crowd, Demas said. It's the second portable X-Factory delivered to the U.S. behind Drew Exposition's ride. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has a permanent installation.  Demas expects it to be a hit at Fair Park. 

    "In Dallas, those rides do well," he said. "It's our home and we gear purchases to that spot. I live 10 minutes from the fairgrounds and it's all by design."

    This is Demas' 47th year in the business. He got his start in Dallas as a teen-ager, making $75 a week. Demas worked about 15 years for independents Dwayne Steck and Lowell Staph at the state fair. They ran Amusements, Inc. and kept an office at Fair Park, where the state fair is held.

    Demas also spent 20 years working at Casino Pier in New Jersey. His experience has taught him to dress up his attractions with scenery and lighting exceeding the manufacturer's specifications. The Rock-It is one example with its multi-color scheme. 

    "I always put more [theming] on it; that's why they call it show biz," Demas said. "KMG builds a good product. Nobody's perfect but the ride doesn't give us a lot of grief. There's not a lot of maintenance required, but at the same time, you've got to take care of it."

    According to a press released issued by, The 'Konga' has several extras like stainless steel lapbars, RGB (LED) lighting, 18 water jets, hydraulic leveling cylinders, stainless steel railings, a 48V back up system and additional entrance and exit gates.

    As an independent, Demas picks his spots among some of North America's biggest fairs. The San Diego County Fair (Del Mar), State Fair of Texas and the Wisconsin State Fair are his primary dates in addition to Minnesota.

    Whether he adds the Iowa State Fair next year is another question. The fair in Des Moines is going through the process of switching to an independent midway in 2017 after its contract with Belle City Amusements expired in August at the completion of this year's event.

    For independent ride owners, the dates for the Iowa and Wisconsin state fairs overlap and Des Moines will be in direct competition with West Allis for operators, according to Demas. Both fairs take place in early to mid August.

    "We won't do both fairs," he said.

    As he prepares for the State Fair of Texas, Demas and other independents such as Michael Wood will look to improve on last year's fair which drew a record $42 million in coupon sales, according to local reports.  

    "It was pretty much perfect weather," Demas.

    Beside his portable equipment, Demas holds the fair's contract for managing two permanent attractions: the Texas Skyway, the fair's gondola ride that transports fairgoers 65 feet above ground; and the Top O' Texas observation tower, a 500-foot structure that made its debut in 2013. 

    Running both attractions for the 24-day fair is a big responsibility and that's one reason Demas doesn't see himself retiring anytime soon. He has multiple years left on his deal in Dallas.

    Demas relies on hiring experienced help from the snow skiing industry to help him run the ride made by Doppelmyer, an Austrian company that has a factory in Salt Lake City.

    Through the H2B Visa program, Demas will use South African workers to help run the tower. His operation expands to 25 total employees in Dallas compared with fewer numbers at his other stops.

    Here in Minnesota, Demas had eight people tied to working the Rock-It. It takes six to run the ride with a rotation that gives everybody two days off so they're all well rested "when there's money to be made and they're not worn out," Demas said. "Things are safer. There's a right way and wrong way to do everything."

    CLICK HERE to view the complete 2016 Minnesota State Fair photo gallery

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HEADLINES from the web
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Bakersfield, CA
9/21/2016 - 10/2/2016
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Monroe, LA
9/22/2016 - 10/2/2016
Powers & Thomas
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Salisbury, NC
9/23/2016 - 10/1/2016
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The Bloomsburg Fair
Bloomsburg, PA
9/23/2016 - 10/1/2016
Butler Amusements
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Yakima, WA
9/23/2016 - 10/2/2016
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9/23/2016 - 10/2/2016

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

I.I.S.F. Gibtown Extravaganza - Gibsonton, FL
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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
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
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
Labor Day Weekend State Fairs Set Record Attendance
Near perfect weather helped three state fairs break record attendance numbers over Labor Day Weekend.  The Nebraska State Fair broke its previous record set in 2015 with over 361,107 guests passing through the turnstiles (up 2.5% from 2015).  In New York, the newly-redesigned state fair midway saw attendance numbers reach 1,117,630, which broke the previous record of 1,011,248 set in 2001.  In Minnesota, the Minnesota State Fair shattered previous attendance records registering 1,943,719 guests through the gates.  The previous record was 1,824,830 set in 2014.  Both the Nebraska and New York State Fairs midways are provided by Wade Shows while the Minnesota State Fair operates an independent midway.  Attendance numbers from the DuQuoin State Fair in Illinois have not yet been reported.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/6/2016
S&S Amusements patriarch, Steve Swika Jr., passes
It is with great regrets to announce the passing of Steve Swika, Jr., owner of Pennsylvania based S&S Amusements.  Steve passed quietly in his sleep on August 19, 2016.  Steve is preceded in death by his wife, Jackie.  Arrangements have been made at Hedley W. Mason Funeral Home, 436 Main Street in Peckville, PA.  Friends may attend Tuesday, August 30, 2 to 5pm or 6 to 9 pm. Funeral services will also be held at Mason Funeral Home on Wednesday, August 31 at 11 am followed by entombment at St. Mary's Mausoleum, Montdale.
  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 8/22/2016
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.

TYAUT Designs - Lap Bar Refurbishment & Grip Bars

Browns Amusements is now hiring ride help, game help, food help, electrician, and CDL drivers for the 2016 season.  Call Danny at (602) 763-1617 for more info or visit

Call Chestnut Identity Apparel for all your amusement industry LED lighting and apparel needs.  Visit for more info.

Evans United Shows is now booking game concessions for the 2016 season!  Call Tom Evans   (816) 392-0759
 or email

BATTECH is an amusement ride manufacturer, producing popular rides such as the Cliff Hanger, Zero Gravity, Downdraft, and Super Slide.  Visit for more info.

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