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  • One day shorter but same attendance numbers for Washington State Fair
    The 2017 Washington State Fair was a successful one. Attendance was about 1.1 million, just about the same last the 2016 fair. This attendance consistency was a victory for the fair as they ran one day shorter this year than they did in 2016. 

    According to Stacy Howard, Public Relations Manager, 2016 was the first year the fair opened Labor Day weekend so the fair ran for 21 days and was closed on Tuesdays. "We closed on Tuesdays because most of the schools in the area started on the Tuesday after Labor Day," says Howard. This year the fair ran for 20 days: opening the Friday before Labor Day. 

    At the gate, admission prices for the Washington State Fair are $14 for adults, $10.50 for students 6-18 and seniors 62+, children 5 and under are free. The fair provides plenty of ways for Washington residents to affordably attend the fair. BECU sponsors opening day kids free weekend during which all kids get into the fair for free. They also sponsored this event the last weekend of the fair as well. On opening day, the Washington State Fair partners with the local ABC affiliate to sponsor a food donation on opening day; anyone who brings in a food item for donation gets free admission that day. 2017 was the Washington State Fair's second year sponsoring a school supply drive as well. Fairgoers could purchase discounted tickets through Val-Pak and Safeway. Local Costco stores sold fair admission season passes and O'Reilly Auto Parts sold discounted rodeo tickets. 

    There were quite a few themed days throughout the 2017 Washington State Fair. Each Thursday of the fair was dubbed "Pierce County Thursdays." Through some market research conducted by the fair when they re-branded in 2012, the fair team realized that many Pierce County residents did not come to the fair because it had gotten too big and was, in a way, overwhelming to have in their county. "We wanted to show our appreciation to Pierce County residents and get them back at the fair," says Howard. 

    Pierce county residents could print off 2 for 1 admission coupons from the website or get them from Val-Pak. This deal was also heavily advertised on television. The fair offered 2 for 1 concert tickets; the first 1000 people got a reusable grocery bag with the old, pre-2012 fair logo. "Attendance was up on Thursdays and we think these promotions definitely contributed to that," says Howard. 

    The last Friday of the fair is named "Blue Friday;" anyone wearing Seattle Seahawks gear and entering through the blue gate got a free admission ticket to come back Sunday for the ultimate tailgate party. The Washington State Fair screens all Seahawks games throughout the fair and the last Saturday of the fair, the Seattle Seahawks cheerleaders: the Seagals, performed at the fair. On Labor Day, the fair hosts an End Of Summer Bash. Last year, they hosted a paid concert for fairgoers to enjoy but, according to Howard, it didn't work very well. This year they had a free concert in the grandstand featuring the Washington Legends tribute band. The concert featured the songs of HeArt and Jimmi Hendrix. Fairgoers could sample Washington wine, beer, and food. 

    Mondays of the Washington State Fair are military appreciation days during which military personnel, their family, and their dependents are admitted into the fair free. The fair also features an Asian Pacific Cultural day with asian-focused food and entertainment. Another huge hit is Fiesta: the fair hosts big Hispanic artists for free and they perform twice during the day. The fair also celebrated the 100th birthday of the antique carousel on the grounds. 

    The concert lineup for the 2017 Washington State Fair was certainly fantastic. This year the fair featured Nickleback, Lady Antebellum, Steven Tyler, Granger Smith, Easton Corbin, Melissa Etheridge, the Beach Boys, the I Love The 90s tour, Hank Williams Jr., Casting Crowns, Modest Mouse, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Jason Aldean among others. All of the concerts sold extremely well but Lady Antebellum, Hank Williams Jr., Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Jason Aldean were the best sellers with Earth, Wind, and Fire being the top act. 

    In addition to large concerts, the fair booked several ground and strolling acts for fairgoers to enjoy. This was the second year that the fair hosted a free superhero headquarters exhibit which featured DC and Marvel superheroes. The characters did meet and greets with fans and there were picture taking stations along the way so that waiting in line was little more enjoyable for fairgoers. The fair also featured two paid exhibits: a large insect exhibit with real insects and some giant animatronic ones for $7 and Big Washington's Imagination Station for $5. 

    Some other ground acts included a slapstick comedy act, street beat musicians, Meghan Lindsey from the Voice, Roberto the Magnificent's comedic show, hypnotist shows, a one-man band, stilt walkers dressed as unicorns, and costumed characters dressed as a chicken and a rabbit which entertained fairgoers son the people-mover and throughout the fairgrounds.
    The 2017 Washington State Fair featured lots of new and fan-favorite foods. The ever-popular Fisher scone created an ice cream this year which debuted at 9 locations around the fair. "They kept the ingredients a secret and sold little cups for just $2," says Howard. Puyallup River Brewing made a raspberry scone ale exclusively for the fair. Also new this year was Puyallup Pro which featured gluten free food and Stu's Fresh Fruit which sold smoothies and fresh fruit bowls. For the first time this year the fair had food stands which sold insects: scorpions, Chile-roasted grasshoppers, and BBQ crickets. The stand also featured exotic kangaroo sausage.

    The Washington State Fair uses Funtastic Shows as their carnival midway provider. This year, Funtastic Shows brought a new ride: Circus Jumbo which was extremely popular with all ages of fairgoers. Funtastic shows uses the Funcard System at the Washington State Fair and brought about 75 rides this year. The Washington State Fair ha about 9 rides that are on the fairgrounds permanently. 

    The fair also has a huge 4-H and FFA presence each year. Fine arts exhibits and contests are very popular; there are about 100 contests hosted at the fair for everything from food to photography to knitting. Livestock showing and competitions are held at the state level. Anyone competing in livestock competitions have to compete in Munroe at the Evergreen Fair before they can compete at the Washington State Fair. 

    The fair team advertises the Washington State Fair through most of the traditional advertising mediums. A large portion of their budget is spent on television advertising and they use radio to mainly advertise their concerts. The Washington State Fair also uses billboards and includes an 8 page insert about the fair in all the large local newspapers. Howard controls the fair's social media sites; they mainly use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Howard runs lots of contests through Facebook. "We have grown our social media presence tremendously in the past few years and we've found it to be immensely helpful," says Howard.

  • Hurricane Harvey poses challenges for Great Allentown Fair
    The 2017 Great Allentown Fair saw many successes despite challenges from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. This year, The Great Allentown Fair celebrated the 165th anniversary of its founding. In addition, the fair commemorated the 100 anniversary of the years 1917-1919 when the fair ceased operation to turn the Allentown Fairgrounds into a World War I training facility for the US Army Ambulance Service.

    This year's Great Allentown Fair ran from Tuesday, August 29th through Monday, September 5th. Overall attendance was 303,000: down 23% from the 2016 total. Overall Grandstand show attendance was 39,777 which was up 12% from 2016, a bright spot for the event. The fair's theme was "The Pick Of The Season."

    The fair offered several admission promotions throughout the duration of the fair. However, perhaps one of their most popular specials: Preview Night Dollapalooza, was negatively affected by Hurricane Harvey. Dollapalooza offers $1 specials on rides, games, and food. Additionally, the fair partners with the Second Harvest Food Bank drive to allow fairgoers into the fair for just $1 with a non-perishable item. The weather discouraged fairgoers/donators from attending so the collection numbers were down to a little over 3,000 pounds from last year's 9,000 pounds. 

    Other admission promotions included "Early birds under the wire:" those who attended the fair on Wednesday, August 31st, Thursday, September 1st, or Friday, September 2nd were given free admission into the fair from 12pm-2pm. On Wednesday, August 30th, seniors with identification were admitted for $4 after 2pm for American Bank Senior Citizens Day. Red, White & Thank You Military Day took place on August 31st and gave free admission to active military and veterans with ID. 

    The 2017 Great Allentown Fair Grandstand lineup included Thomas Rett with Dan+Shay, Keith Urban with Lindsay Ell, John Mellencamp with Carlene Carter, Rascal Flatts with Lauren Alaina, Pentatonix with Us The Duo, a Latin radio station sponsored a show with Tito Nieves, Ivy Queen, and Jose Alberto, and there was a J&J Demolition Derby on Labor Day. The last bit of Harvey's wrath poured down on Pentatonix fans at the sold-out Grandstand concert on Saturday, September 3rd. 10,536 fans braved the weather to watch Pentatonix perform.

    Ground act entertainment at the 2017 was also a huge hit according to Bonnie Brosious, fair spokesperson. New shows this year included America's Got Talent Season 6 quarter-finalist, Dan Mink: the Rhinestone Roper. Mink gave three shows per day which featured horse stunts, roping tricks, knife throwing, and more. This year's fairgoers also saw the return of the Nerveless Nocks who performed thrill acts such as the dual Sway Poe, WHeel of Destiny, and Wheel of Steel motor dome. Other ground acts included The Marvelous Mutts, Robinson's Racing Pigs and Paddling Porkers, Scott's Future of Magic, and New Odyssey featuring "3 guys, 30 instruments." 

    In addition to grandstand acts, the fair featured other musical performers such as Grammy award winning King of Polka: Jimmy Sturr, regional tribute band: The Blues Brotherhood, and many other local bands and acoustic players. 

    Powers' Great American Midways provides the carnival rides, food, and games for the Great Allentown Fair. According to Brosious, they experienced negative consequences from Hurricane Harvey. Powers' Great American Midways featured two new kiddie rides this year as part of the 41 rides and 43 games they had at the fair. Advance sale unlimited ride wristbands were available for $15 online and at the fair box office prior to opening day.

    The fair's Agri-Plex featured 12 competitive exhibits this year and they each followed the fair's theme: "The Pick of the Season." Each area represented one of the 12 months of the year. Competitive exhibit participation rose 22%; 8,450 items were on display to be judged and a total of 950 animals were exhibited. Proceeds from the Lehigh County 4-H Livestock Sale were up 19%. 
    In order to honor the fair's participation in WWI, two men: George King III and Jeffrey Klinger of Massachusetts wore WWI uniforms and brought their Ambulance 255 Project to the fair on its Red, White, & Thank You Military Day. On Friday, fairgoers could observe the vehicle as it made runs around the grounds or attend one of the 5 presentations given in front of the WWI display. 

    Food is a huge part of the Great Allentown Fair as evidenced by its many food competitions and demonstrations. The fair features a Farm to Table series of chef demonstrations and culinary tips. This year, they offered Grain to Glass presentations from local distillers, giving fairgoers the chance to observe the distilling process. The fair's Iron Chef Competition is certainly a crowd favorite; it is a two day competition between 4 contenders who compete to cook against the previous year's champion. East Executive Chef Abe Lopez beat last year's champion by creating a dish from the following secret ingredients: double smoked ham shanks, roasted chestnuts, kale puree, farm kimchi, Louisiana alligator, dragon fruit, and "blue wave" kettle corn. 

    Fair concessionaires competed to win over fairgoers and the loving cup with fun and creative food recipes. This year, Maddalena's Cheesecake stand made a vanilla ice cream dish topped with cinnamon-spiced apple pie which took home the trophy. 

    While the fair was hit with some nasty weather, Brosious remained positive when reflecting on how the weather affected the fair; "We always hope for perfect weather to bolster our year-long efforts, but when you see what has taken people lifetimes to build destroyed or damaged by nature's fury, you deal with what we experienced without a wince," says Brosius. "Numbers were up in our competitive exhibit and livestock entries and the activities associated with the commemoration of Camp Crane (the WWI ambulance training base) were fabulous," she says.

  • Big E Breaks Attendance Records with New Marketing, Entertainment and Exhibits
    Revamped marketing, a top notch entertainment lineup, new exhibits and an improving economy are all tangible factors the Eastern States Expo can point to as contributing to a record number of visitors for The Big E, in West Springfield, MA, breaking the Fair's all-time high attendance figure, with a final tally of 1,525,553. The previous record,  1,498,605, was set in 2014. Closing day attendance was 137,208, a new record for the final Sunday of the 17-day Fair.

    In addition, the all-time highest single day attendance record was also broken when 171,897 visitors attended Saturday, Sept. 23. Three additional daily attendance records were set: Sept. 21, 85,019; Sept. 28, 89,905; and Sept. 29, 109,871. "I am humbled to see the incredible support of Eastern States Exposition by our loyal fair patrons," said Eugene J. Cassidy, president and chief executive officer of the Exposition. "The 2017, 101st edition of The Big E broke records again, recording for the first time in history over 1.5 million guests."

    Wholesome Americana 
    But there may also have been an intangible factor that helped the event shatter previous attendance records.  While the Big E did many things right this year, Cassidy pointed to an overriding factor - fairs themselves. "The fair is wholesome, Americana," he said. "Society is desperate to return to that. Of course, we feel we produce the best fair with the Big-E.  But the reality is that the economy is improving and consumer confidence is improving. People want to return to normal, and fairs represent that. I really believe that to be the case, that fairs are the place where you can bring the family and take a respite from all the problems in society."

    One thing that can certainly be ruled out when it comes this bigger than ever Big E is that 2017 weather may not have been horrific, but it was far from optimum. A late summer heat wave had temps in the 90s, and then a rainstorm caused temperatures to plummet into the low 60s.  "Patrons of New England's Great State Fair braved days of punishing temperatures that pushed the heat index to above 100 degrees, they endured a 55 degree drop in temperature accompanied by rain, and yet they came in great numbers to participate in, enjoy and support this organization and all it stands for." 

    Like other large fairs, challenging of course is the key word for booking entertainment at the Big E, but Cassidy feels he hit a sweet spot in terms of "diversity of talent," he said.

    The ambitious entertainment line-up this year included ticketed and free concerts at the Xfinity arena including: Cole Swindell, KING & COUNTRY, Grand Funk Railroad, Smash Mouth, Cam and Night Ranger. 

    Swindell and the other paid acts, "sold very well," said Cassidy. "I honestly feel that we met all  the challenges when it came to talent buying this year. We didn't really not get anyone who we didn't go after, and we wanted a real diversity of talent, and we are pleased to get the talent we did."

    Cassidy said there was a cut-off guideline in terms of paying for acts, which determined what acts the fair booked, "we stayed within that range," he said.

    The fair further diversified musical offerings with covered seating of a free stage, the Court of Honor Stage, creating what the fair called "a musical oasis" in the center of the fairgrounds, and featured such acts as Vintage Trouble, Village People, Ten Years After, the Lovin' Spoonful, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers (a bagpipe ensemble), "American Idol" winner Nick Fradiani, with Carly & Martina and Machine Performs Pink Floyd.  "We had a big cross section of talent," said Cassidy. 

    Another musical feature at this year's fair was a mini-country music festival the Twin-E Country Fest, with the new "E" Stage, which hosted a Songwriters Series, up-and-coming artists and the Masters of Music competition, showcasing local and regional artists. "We want to think we are becoming  a music festival."

    Two new exhibits also grabbed fairgoer attentions as highlights of the 2017 Big E, A Walk Through History debuted in the Hampden County Building's auditorium, an outgrowth of last year's 100th anniversary of the fair, which featured memorabilia and other items for the century of Easter States Expositions. The building is now a permanent fair museum, featuring history of the fair as well rotating exhibits outlining the rich agricultural and educational history of the Exposition. "Last year was the first time we really had our own archive created, so we are now making that permanent part of the fair," said Cassidy. 
    Another new exhibit, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition, sponsored by Uncommon USA, recreated one of the famed ceilings through photographic reproduction. The exhibit made a splash earlier in the year the Oculus/National 9-11 Museum & Memorial in Lower Manhattan. "It was a great exhibit," said Cassidy.

    New Mascot 
    The Big E also made a complete overhaul of its marketing, with a new theme - Free Bird, which accompanied a new mascot - "Chick-E" - a chickadee type creature who visited various scenes of the fair. Chick-E was used in some print and online ads, but was mainly the star of various animated spots. "We worked him into the advertising campaign, and you saw him playing among farm animals and having various fair experiences. He really acted as the fairgoer. He was a really fun image, very clever. 

    The fair media allocation for marketing in 2017 was: Television, 27 percent; Radio, 35 percent; Print, 8 percent; Out of Home, 15 percent; Online, 15 percent. "We redirected more money into social media, and we increased that budget by 25 percent.

    The new social media focus was primarily on ticket sales. "Social Media was driving a great deal of our ticket sales. We stole an idea from the Wisconsin State Fair were we ran a flash sale in June, which we discounted at $8 (tickets were usually $15). We sold 90,000 tickets in less than a day."

    He pointed out that the redemption rate for flash sale tickets were 80 percent. "There were a lot of them that went unclaimed, and so the deep discount wasn't as great, it was only $10 instead of $8."

    The social media makeover and heavier emphasis also reaped a stronger millennial following for the fair. "Our social media expanded substantially, and we really increased the 25-35 year old demo. With the music and the social media, there is really a party and festival atmosphere, and we had younger people, and our alcohol sales also increased."
    NAME Midway 
    The Easter States Exposition midway was operated by North American Midway Entertainment (NAME), and Cassidy said the revenue was a record, up 11 percent over last year. The midway featured 50 rides, with the debut of The Bullet Train Roller Coaster highlighting the ride selection this year." 

    The fair featured 145 food concessions, with the most popular seller being the signature item for the fair, the Big E Cream Puffs & Eclairs. The also had a two-level Bud & Burger Pub, featuring the specially created Big TastE Burger for the fair. "We found double decker tents," Cassidy explained, "It was a quite a big attraction, people could come and sit under the tent, and we had a small stage nearby, where local talent played. The tents had a great view of the fairgrounds." 

    Another food vendor The Deep South Company, whose specialty was Waffle Chicken Bites, also added a second floor with the new double decker tents.

    Other foods at the Big E included the Deep Fried Holy Cannoli, Gourmet Candy Apples and gourmet     tater tots at Tots-A-Lot. In addition, the "Spencer Trappist Beer Bar and Experience" featured a newly created Reserve Ale (a Trappist 'Quadrupel'), putting an old world spin on the hand-crafted bear movement. 

    "I talked to a lot of vendors whose sales were up as high as 20 percent compared to last year. I think people are feeling more confident in the economy, and they're less afraid to spend money. We also know more about our customer and did a better job reaching with our marketing and our programming. The weather was like a last gasp of summer, and people came out despite the heat."  

  • New Mascot & Marketing Campaign Boosts Attendance for Delta Fair & Music Festival
    Now that a decade of growth has gone by, establishing itself in the Tennessee fair market, the Delta Fair & Music Festival decided to start its next decade with Cowvin. 

    Cowvin (the moniker is a clever spin of the name Calvin) is not your average bovine, he was the new - and first - mascot for this Memphis event. Cowvin was spotlighted throughout the marketing campaign by the fair, but not just in the usual advertisements and marketing. Like many fairs, the event partners with regional grocery store chains to promote the fair and sell tickets. This year, cardboard Cowvins were placed in the stores and selfies were encouraged to be taken, creating excitement and anticipation for the fair.
    Bovine Ambassador
    "We came up with our own mascot, Cowvin, who is a cow wearing overalls and holding a corn," said Mark Lovell, President/CEO. "We created a six-foot tall cardboard cutout, and had them placed at the local grocery store chain where people could buy discounted tickets. We also did free ticket giveaway and random contests. We had contests where people would take a selfie with the Cowvin cutout and that worked out great." 

    The advertising budget for the fair was $200,000, which was up a few thousand dollars compared to last year. "We spent more money," said Lovell. "We did a lot of ticket giveaways. We spent a lot less on TV, and shifted those funds to billboards. We were heavy on the outdoor advertising market." 

    The billboard campaign was particularly clever, using an interactive concept to engage participants. The message on the digital billboard would have one misspelled word in the advertising copy, and the first 10 people who identified the misspelling would receive free admission. "It was a very successful campaign.

    The billboards were placed primarily in a "50 mile loop" around the city of Memphis, the prime market for the fair. Within that radius, "we saw certain areas that were more beneficial to advertise in, some smaller towns, and we shotgun out the billboards in a few of those places well."

    Lovell's advertising strategy is to wait until about a month before opening day, and then saturate the market. "We hold off and start four weeks before opening day," he said. "I don't think it is cost effective to do any marketing before then. This year we hit the marketing harder during those four weeks."

    Aside from boosting billboard spending and reducing television advertising, "We had lot radio tie-ins with our music," he said. "For instance, we had a lot of country music, so we worked with a country music station."

    Like other fairs in today's media landscape, old media like print took a hit, but it's important to note that selective print marketing is a viable avenue. "We don't do the traditional morning papers because people don't really get their news that way anymore. But still do weekly magazines, alternative weeklies and for Hispanic markets, you can still target customers you want to reach." 

    While not as old school as print, emails received renewed emphasis within the revamped marketing campaign by the Delta Fair & Music Festival in 2017. "We did a big email campaign this year. We have a large database of emails that we've grown throughout the years. It's still a major way we communicate with our customers. We did more and better e-blasts this year."

    Regarding social media, Lovell "said we promoted the heck out of the fair on social media, we did a lot of Facebook. We've always done Facebook, and we kept it in-house, but this year, we really got serious with social media marketing."

    In addition to the actual marketing to turn consumers into fairgoers, the fair also implemented some new promotions, such as a one dollar Thursday and a $10 Tuesday, which meant unlimited rides for the ten dollars. 

    All of the new promotions and marketing schemes were all about the fair narrowing the marketing window to four weeks, then "hitting it harder," said Lovell. 

    Attendance Spikes
    Combined with optimum weather, the 2017 Delta Fair & Music Festival recorded an attendance of 220,000, a considerable increase over last year's 197,000. "We had an outstanding event, "said Lovell. "We're basically a state fair without the title of a state fair. We had outstanding livestock shows, great grandstands, and attractions, including a new tiger show and circuses."  

    Affordable and family friendly are key components to the fair. One new amenity was a Big Wheel Track. The fair purchased 10 Big Wheels - the iconic children's tricycle - and had a free track for families to linger with their children, even hold Big Wheel races. "It was something we did, it was free and families loved it. 

    The key is keeping the attractions - including the music free - "you want to add value to the ticket price, and so all our concerts are free, as our tractor pulls and demolition derbies.

    In fact, about 150 music acts of all ranges underscored the 'music festival' in the Delta Fair & Music Festival title. The biggest draw was Grand Funk Railroad and the Bellamy Brothers, according to Lovell. Other highlights included Chord Overstreet, Aaron Carter, Why Don't We, Austin Mahone, Keith Sykes & Band, High Valley, Filter, and Blackberry Smoke.

    Radio Ambiente Fiesta Patrias was the headliner of the fair's Hispanic day. "They are a big Latino Band," he said. "We have a Latino Day, but we also have a military appreciation day, and we offer more free shows than anyone else in the area." 

    Music Balance
    Memphis is a city renowned worldwide for its music, and the large population of musicians and music industry folks makes it easier to round out a line up, a necessary component for an outdoor event with three separate stages. However, this by no means makes the Delta Fair & Music Festival immune to the realities of today's unyielding sellers market when it comes to talent buying for fairs. 

    Lovell pointed that the two choices fairs have is to book a touring band - hoping that the date fits comfortably into the act's routing - or a "one off" music act, meaning that the entertainer is coming into town to specifically play the Delta Fair & Music Festival. "Memphis is not a cheap air fare, so booking really depends if you are booking a touring band or a one off band, because one offs can be more because. This year we were able to split it right down the middle. We have a have a formula that works, which is all our music is free with the price of the fair admission, and we don't do hard ticket sales. People come here for the music, and we load the music festival up with good music, and we rotate the musicians."

    The sweet spot is to have an even balance of local and regional musicians - who are less expensive and also bring in their own followings to the fair - as well as a mix of music acts that are at the dawn of their careers alongside those entering the twilight phase. "You want people who are up and comers, and folks who already had their heyday, but they are still great musicians and have a fan base."  

    He added, "We want wholesome acts, and a mix of country music, pop, classic rock. Stuff that you hear on the radio. We have brought in a few bands that were not as family friendly, who drop the F-bomb on stage, so you try to be aware of that when you are booking talent." 

    The Delta Fair & Music Festival featured 60 food vendors, with the typical fair standards like funnel cakes and deep fried Oreos being cuisine staples. The newest food item was a "jalapeno-stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, "that was great," he said.
    Reed Expositions
    Delta Fair & Music Festival midway was provided by Reed Expositions Midway and featured 64 rides, with top rides being an OMG, Avenger and 360. "We had two big Century Wheels," said Jimmy Reed, founder and president, Reed Expositions Midway. "This is one of the largest fairs in terms of number of rides that we play."

    It was the inaugural year for Reed Exposition as the carnival company at the Delta Fair & Music Festival. "It was an awesome fair," said Reed. "The attendance was really good, and the whole fair is run very well, like a Swiss watch."

    He did note that there was a "feeling they needed to change some things" in regards to the midway. This meant creating a separate Kiddie Land, moving it away from the main midway. "The Kiddie Land was moved to the front of the fair, about 300 feet from the adult rides," said Reed. We had a new Dumbo ride, which is a beautiful ride, and two merry-go-rounds." 

    Another reason why Lovell declared the 2017 event outstanding was that the Tennessee economy has finally bounced back. "Business is up," he said. "A fair is always a combination of things, the weather, our advertising, but Tennessee's economy is up significantly because it is not tied to one particular industry. It's not as volatile as it had been."

    He also feels the fair itself worked smarter. "We spent our money more wisely this year, especially with the marketing and our entertainment."

    However, he resists resting on his laurels. "I am never satisfied. I think Cowvin worked out great; it gave us different stories to push. Our presales were up. But like a lot of fairs, we are still missing the boat on bringing in more millennials. We are doing more monitoring of that age group, and then we will be looking at the marketing and entertainment to bring more of them to the fair."

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HEADLINES from the web
Texas State Fair
Dallas, TX
9/29/2017 - 10/22/2017
Ray Cammack Shows
Arizona State Fair
Phoenix, AZ
10/6/2017 - 10/29/2017
Wade Shows
North Carolina State Fair
Raleigh, NC
10/12/2017 - 10/22/2017
Reithoffer Shows
Western Carolina Fair
Aiken, SC
10/19/2017 - 10/28/2017
Reithoffer Shows
Pensacola Interstate Fair
Pensacola, FL
10/19/2017 - 10/29/2017
Butler Amusements
Desert Empire Fair
Ridgecrest, CA
10/20/2017 - 10/22/2017

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

Annual IAFE Convention and Trade Show - Paris Hotel - Las Vegas, NV
[more info..]

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

2016 TOP 50 FAIRS
1. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Houston, TX
2. Texas State Fair - Dallas, TX
3. San Antonio Livestock Show & Ex. - San Antonio, TX
4. Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
5. San Diego County Fair - Del Mar, CA

View Top 50 Fairs
The Industry Buzz
Jeff Shuper of NAME passes away
Industry veteran Jeff Shuper passed away late Thursday evening in a tragic car accident.  Jeff was a friend to many and was an outstanding ride foreman for North American Midway Entertainment.  

Viewing will take place at 5pm on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at:
Dougherty Funeral Home
2615 First Avenue
Hibbing MN, 55746

Funeral service will be held at 10am on Friday, October 20, 2017 at:
First Lutheran Church
2201-3rd Avenue East
Hibbing, MN 55764

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of "Jeff Shuper" to the Showmen's League of America Scholarship fund.  Donate online at

  Posted by Matt Cook on 10/13/2017
Chuck Waterman Passes
Veteran show owner Chuck Waterman passed away on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at the age of 60.  Chuck owned and operated Calkins Midways for many years before selling the show to Alan and Barb Larkee in 2017.  Chuck still traveled with the show operating concessions.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.  

Arrangements are as follows:

Visitation:  OCT 14. 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Funeral to follow at noon

St. Jacobi Ev. Lutheran Church
8605 W. Forest Home Av.
Greenfield, WI, US

  Posted by Matt Cook on 10/11/2017
Bob Coleman Passes
Bob Coleman, owner of Coleman Brothers Shows and OABA 1989 Trustee passed away at his home late this week at the age of 91 (two weeks shy of his 92nd birthday).

Funeral and visitation information is as follows:
The Wake will be held on October 12 from 5-8pm at:
Coughlin-Lastrina Funeral Home
491 High Street in Middletown, CT f

Funeral Mass will be held at on October 13 at 10am:
Pius Catholic Church 
310 Westfield St Middletown Ct

Burial will follow at Indian Hill Cemetery on 383 Washington St. in Middletown.

  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 10/7/2017
Former Delaware State Fair Manager, Dennis Hazzard passes
MILFORD - On Sept. 3, 2017, Dennis S. Hazzard passed away at The Country Rest Home in Greenwood.

He was born on Nov. 25, 1941, in Milford to Jean and Walter Hazzard.

Dennis graduated from Milford High School in 1959 and began his radio broadcasting career at the local station, WTHD. He then went on to other radio stations including WAFL. Dennis later switched careers to become the Assistant General Manager at the Delaware State Fair. He occupied this position for several years before being appointed General Manager. He retired from this position in 2007.

He was a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the Delaware State Fair. He was also a member of the International Association of Fairs and Expos and the Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs and Shows.

Dennis enjoyed listening to music, reading and watching movies, especially old movies. He also enjoyed going to Broadway shows and traveling. For several years he conducted bus tours to Nashville, Tenn. for the annual Fanfare.

Dennis is survived by his wife of 48 years, Vivian (nee Wilson); and his two children, Amy Slonacher and her husband Garrette, and Mark Hazzard and his wife Kim. He also leaves behind his beloved grandchildren, Nicholas, Tristan and Brendan Slonacher. Also surviving are brothers, Roy, Walter, Dean and Richard Hazzard; sister, Jill Cohee; and several nieces and nephews.
  Posted by Obituary on 9/11/2017
In our efforts to chronicle the history of our industry, we could think of no better way to further this endeavor than to interview industry pioneers and preserve their videos for posterity.

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