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  • Indiana State Fair:  'Farm' in the city

    Of all the things that Andy Klotz, Publicity & Media Relations Manager of the Indiana State Fair, can be most proud of (and there are many), he chose the following to highlight:  "80 percent of the visitors to our fair this year said that they learned something about agriculture.  That was music to our ears, especially because we are right in the heart of a large metro area, only ten minutes from downtown Indianapolis."

    Agricultural Savvy
    According to Wikipedia, Indianapolis is not only the capital of Indiana, but is also "the 12th largest city in the United States."  Its downtown area has "more than 200 retail shops, more than 35 hotels, nearly 300 restaurants and food options, movie theaters, sports venues, museums, art galleries and parks." With the Indiana State Fair on its doorstep, downtown Indianapolis also hosts the largest "farm in the city."

    Why is this so important?  Let's just say that urban dwellers are not characteristically known for their agricultural savvy.  By bringing the "farm" to the city, children (and some adults) who have not gotten much closer to corn and milk than their nearest supermarket can therefore develop an appreciation for where these goodies actually originate.

    Even celebrities have gotten in on the agricultural action.  Klotz shared a great anecdote about Kix Brooks.  When Brooks & Dunn were performing at the Indiana State Fair, Brooks noticed that donkey races were on the agenda.  Having raised donkeys on his own farm, Brooks was not about to be a mere spectator.

    Before you knew it, Brooks was up and running in the donkey race.  Unfortunately, his donkey "buddy" had other plans, and ran Brooks "right into the cement wall of the track."  There were some moments of sheer angst when Brooks "didn't exactly bounce back up again."

    However, all's well that ends well.  Brooks made it to the show that night, and repeatedly joked about the donkey caper.  He was especially good natured about the incident, considering that a CBS-affiliate reporter had managed to capture it all on air.

    Speaking of Entertainment
    Rome has its Coliseum, and as it turns out, so does Indianapolis.  This, in fact, was "The Year of the Coliseum" at the Indianapolis State Fair.  Klotz explained, "Our Coliseum was built in 1939, and it was the venue in Indianapolis for decades."

    "People came there for concerts (e.g., the Beatles in 1964), hockey games, parties, ice shows, political conventions, you name it...  A tremendous amount of history took place there, so people have had a real affinity for the Coliseum."

    "Nevertheless, the building was not up to modern-day arena standards.  To keep it open was going to take quite a bit of work.  We managed to get the governor and state legislators on board with refurbishing it."

    "In September 2012, we closed the Coliseum down to begin a complete overhaul of the building.  Everything was gutted inside, but the four outside walls were preserved.  These outside walls have a landmark art-deco type of design that people recognize and love."

    "We sold bonds and will finance those through our own revenue over the next 25 years or so.  The entire project cost $53 million, and the reconstruction took 18 months.   This year's fair was the first chance for the general public to really go through the building."

    "The Coliseum now has fabulous lighting and a state-of-the-art sound system.  The draft-horse show was once again held there, and the place was completely packed.  Comedian Jim Gaffigan sold out, and the other concerts and events did real well."

    100 Bottles of Beer... 
    Another "first" for this year's fair was The Indiana Beer and Wine Exposition.  There's a fabled history to this, too.  (When a fair's been operating since 1852 as this one has, there's a whole lot of history to be had.)

    The fair's website explains, "This is the first time since 1946 alcohol has been allowed to be served at the Indiana State Fair.'   Klotz elaborated, "As the story goes, the beer vendors ran out of cups in 1946.  They handed out bottles to people who still wanted to buy beer, and those bottles ended up littering the fairgrounds.  Many people were extremely upset with how littered the fairgrounds were, so the legislature then banned all alcohol sales."

    Many were thrilled that 2014 marked the beginning of a new beer-and-wine era at the fair.  Klotz explained that there is now "one controlled enclosed area with a three-drink maximum where  people can go in and enjoy some beer and wine.  This promotes Indiana's craft-beer and wine industries, which are such a big part of our agriculture now.  We had tremendous positive feedback on how these things were set up and run this year."

    Banner Year
    In fact, 2014 turned out to be an all-around banner year.  The Indianapolis Star reported that there were 954,884 attendees, "making it the third most popular edition [of the fair] in history."

    The Indiana Beer and Wine Exposition alone "drew 48,259 visitors."

    This is especially commendable in view of the tragedies (1963 Coliseum explosion and 2011 stage collapse) that this fair has suffered through.  Klotz explained that much has been done to insure future safety. 

    "We revamped our entire emergency management plan, which has become a standard in the entertainment industry, as well as in the fair industry.  We now have a system in place that disseminates information to all concerned in an extremely timely manner.  During this year alone, we pulled people in to take shelter because of a looming storm."

    "We are continually upgrading our fairgrounds.  People have noticed the improvements in general and the high quality of our exhibit areas, which are some of the cleanest you'll find anywhere."

    From its agricultural education to its state-of-the-art facilities, the Indiana State Fair is a class act.  Klotz promises, "Although we realize that it gets tough to keep raising the bar year after year, that's exactly what we intend to do." 

  • Bret Michaels proves to be a big draw for the Big Butler Fair

    In the middle of summer, a ton of people converged on a tiny town in western Pennsylvania. They were there for the Big Butler Fair, which ran from June 27 through July 5, but Ben Roenigk, president of the Big Butler Fair Association, said he believes that all of the people came to welcome a native son home who has made a really big name for himself.

    Bret Michaels was born and raised in Prospect, Pa., the small town where the fair has been held for the last 159 years. The fair, known as one of the biggest and best in the state, will celebrate its 160th anniversary next year, said Roenigk. Prospect has a population of only about 1,200 people. "Bret Michaels, from Butler County, came home," he said. "He was the lead singer in Poison and is now on his own. We were all pretty excited."

    Michaels was lead singer of the metal band Poison when the band sold over 30 million records worldwide and 15 million records in the United States alone. The band also charted ten singles to the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including six top 10 singles and the number one single, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

    Michaels also has several solo albums to his credit, including a soundtrack album to the movie A Letter from Death Row, which Michaels starred in, wrote and directed in 1998, and a classic Poison-style rock album, Song of Life in 2003.

    Michaels has appeared in several movies and TV shows, including as a judge on the talent show Nashville Star which led to his country influenced rock album Freedom of Sound in 2005. Michaels was the winning contestant on NBC's reality show Celebrity Apprentice 3 and was also featured in his own reality docu-series, Bret Michaels.

    Michaels appeared in a free concert at the fair on July 2, said Roenigk.

    Another big entertainment event was the Animal Planet's Gator Boys. The boys, based in Florida, appeared at the fair every day, three times a day, said Roenigk.
    And then there was the school bus demolition derby, an event that was introduced at the Big Butler Fair and has been adopted by other fairs across the country.

    "The kids – the school kids – love seeing those school buses smashed," said Roenigk, with a chuckle.

    The Big Butler Fair was established in 1855, and the first fair was held in 1856 on a plot of land east of the city. The next year, the fair moved to a site near the present location of the Pullman-Stanard plant. Joseph Douthett was the first president of the association and the fair prospered under his direction until activities were curtailed by the Civil War.

    In 1856, the Butler Agricultural and Stock Association was formed. The fair went on for eleven years after the war until the Butler Driving and Fair Association replaced the first group. A tract of 33 acres was leased and a half-mile race track was developed.

    The Big Butler Fair is the largest fair in Western Pennsylvania and considered by many to be the best fair in the country, said Roenigk. Families come from all over Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia to attend the Big Butler Fair to enjoy fireworks, the midway, games, demolition derbies, concerts and truck pulls. Pittsburgh, for example, is about an hour's drive away, said Roenigk. The Big Butler Fair lost some competition a couple of years ago when the Alleghany Fair closed down, he said. That move may have even helped increase attendance.

    Roenigk said that more than 100,000 people attended the 2014 Big Butler Fair, about a 20 percent increase over last year.

    The fair today operates on a 150-acre fairground, with food, carnival rides and perpetual fun going on for all nine days of the event With a budget of about $60,000, Roenigk said the fair was advertised on the fair's website, through social media, television and radio. He said they probably went over budget slightly this year because of the extreme effort to advertise.

    "The Bret Michaels thing got us all a little more excited," he said.

    But there was more than Bret Michaels to get excited about. There was actually something going on every minute, including harness racing and "bike night," which was held on Friday night. Participants could ride their motorcycles into the grandstand through the west gate and their admission to the fairgrounds was free. There was a $5 cost for each motorcycle they brought in.

    On Friday, June 27, there was a special concert by The Clarks, billed as "Pittsburgh's superstars." The Clarks are an American rock band that has stayed together for more than 20 years.  The Clarks have been musical superstars in and around their hometown of Pittsburgh for years.

    There were also antique tractor pulls. Tractor pull competitions included super stock tractors and "smoker" tractors.

    There was square dancing on Saturday, June 28, held in the 4H barn. The demolition derby championships were held. Cars with no mufflers and missing parts were allowed to participate as their radiators spewed steam and blown tires belched and fenders buckled under the banging of bumper to bumper collisions.

    There was also a "run what ya brung" truck pull and competition. In addition, the big rigs and semi trucks moved in for a truck pull competition. A freestyle motorcross motorcycle event was also featured.

    The midway displayed the games and fun of Powers Great American Midways, based in Corfu, New York. Powers combined both of their units  for the Big Butler Fair.
    Powers Great American Midways is owned by Corky and Debbie Powers. The couple has four children and seven grandchildren, all of them working in the business.
    Fourth of July at the fair, of course, featured a spectacular fireworks display by Shively Fireworks. The Y108 Freedom festival featured Joe Diffie and Charee' White as a special guest.

    When it was all over, Roenigk said he was a happy man.

    "The weather was fantastic," he said. "It was in the high 70s every day. There were afternoons when it got a little warmer but the temperatures always stayed below 90- degrees. Overall, we couldn't be more excited, and we're looking forward to next year."

  • Reed Exposition holds the line on ticket prices for 2014

    BELTON, Texas --- Johnny Reed had his hands full during his carnival's three-day run at the Central Texas State Fair.

    Reed Exposition Midways had 13 rides set up at the Bell County Expo here off I-35, midway between Waco and Austin. It was typical Texas weather, a scorching Saturday in late August, and officials had to take care of a leaky generator and an electrical issue with the Shocker ride.

    The carnival opened at high noon, the same time as the fair officially opened and the crowds were sparse in large part due to the late summer heat. But the Reed family expected things to pick up at night after the temperatures cooled a bit and locals came out to see some up-and-coming country acts.

    "I don't think I would come out now even if it was free," Reed said.

    Johnny Reed and his brother Jimmy run Reed Expo, a Houston-based show that has been in existence since 1960. Their father, Jimmy Reed Sr., started in the carnival business when he was 15 and eventually launched his own show. Jimmy Reed Sr. died five years ago and his sons took over.

    The show plays Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

    About 25 dates are fairs, several of which Reed plays in conjunction with Murphy Bros. Exposition. Murphy Bros. still holds some of the contracts Reed plays, including state fairs in Albuquerque and Fargo.

    It's a relationship that started about 15 years ago when the Reed brothers first spoke to Jerry Murphy, now semi-retired, about filling some large dates with rides. Their first date tied to Murphy was the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. Since that time, Reed Expo has picked up other Murphy events.

    All told, Reed Expo owns 50 rides and splits into as many as four units depending on where the calendar falls. In late August, three units were in operation, including Belton and Fayetteville, Ark.

    In Belton, Johnny Reed had one of the few Chance Rides four-abreast Grand carousels still operating on the road, a piece picked up from Murphy, he said. The Himalaya, Wave Swinger, Drop Zone and Shocker were among the other bigger rides set up on the expo center's blacktop parking lot.

    Reed has played Belton for about 20 years. It's 45 miles south of Waco, hometown of Tanya Reed, Johnny's wife. They met each other more than 25 years ago at a still date in Palestine, Texas.

    "We were playing a mall parking lot and just closing the carnival,"
    Reed said. "I was going to Whataburger and struck up a conversation with her. She's now my No. 1 helper."

    Key employees are mostly family. Jimmy and his wife Darla run the first unit. One brother-in-law, Cameron Ochoa, manages kiddieland and runs food concessions with Tanya Reed. Outside of the family, Mark White is in charge of show maintenance.

    Through Murphy contracts, Reed Expo has some monumental jumps, including Dallas to Fargo, about 1,000 miles. The show plays a few shopping centers in north Texas, along with Austin, Houston and San Antonio, before starting the long trek north to the North Dakota State Fair in late June.

    "We did Green Bay to Albuquerque and that was a long one," Reed said.
    "So long I couldn't find the end of the damn road."

    Reed's season starts in Texas and its first fair of the year is the Victoria Livestock Show in February. Then comes the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show in Mercedes followed by festivals in Fairfield and Athens, Texas, as well as Madill, Okla.

    The entire show comes together at the Rio Grande Valley event before splitting up for several weeks. It converges again in Fargo for the state fair, Reed said. It's a long jump to North Dakota but the cooler temperatures in the upper Midwest provide a nice break from the southwest heat, he said.

    Like most carnivals, Reed Expo has held the line on ticket prices for several years to give families a fair value for their money. Ride coupons are $1 each and armbands typically cost $25. They were $20 in Belton.

    "It's not that we don't want to raise ticket prices but then the public complains about it," Reed said. "But the economy is getting better. Our still dates have even been up. We played a couple malls this year that did well. That's not the way it's been the past few years."

    The price of armbands escalates to $30 in North Dakota, a state with a booming oil industry. "Everybody's working up there and they're not afraid to pay that much for a wristband," he said.

    The show closes the season by the end of October. The Reed family is seeking to buy about three new rides but Johnny Reed declined to mention specific pieces. He said he doesn't want to give the competition a leg up.

    "We need to get rid of some of the older stuff," Reed said.

  • Increased Attendance and Longer Stays Increased Ohio State Fair Revenue

    More people passed through the gates this year and spent more money than they did in 2013. In spite of two rainy Saturdays, mild summer weather prevailed and coupled with signs of an improving Ohio economy, the Ohio State Fair experienced increased attendance and spending. But for Virgil Strickler, General Manager, this success was not as much due to the short-term changes the fair implemented this year, but the result of a decade-long process of dedication.

    "Over the years, we have really improved our safety and cleanliness," said Strickler. "We have a added a lot more trees, more flowers, more events and I think people have to see that we are a different fair. We still have something great, and we are retaining our guests, adding more fairgoers and many people are coming back more often during the fair."

    Operation Shade
    Increased amenities and beautification have both enhanced the fairgrounds and the fairgoer experience. According to Strickler, the fair implemented "operation shade," which included more benches and picnic tables, plus 29 trees. Another landscaping amenity included planting 40,000 new flowers. Strickler describes the result of these developments as "awesome. People stay longer at the fair when they have more places to relax and have fun."

    The surest sign of this hesitation to depart and enthusiasm to stay longer at the fair could be seen in the parking lots. "It is most noticeable when it comes to parking, the cars aren't moving every six hours, they're staying there," said Stickler.

    Fair staff provided some quantifiable evidence substantiating the anecdotal data. Attendance increased a notable 1.5 percent over 2013, but per capita spending rose 3.5 percent, double the rate of the attendance increase. Attendance for the 12-day, Buck Eye State annual summer celebration of everything Ohio was 916,724 and included two of the strongest weekdays on record. According to Alicia Shoults, Marketing & Public Relations Director, Ohio State Fair, there was  "a total of 12 separate single-day records, six single-day records for carnival gross, and six single-day records for concessionaire gross. While we didn't break the overall single day attendance record, this year's Tuesday and second Thursday were the highest of other Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Fair. "

    Improving Economy
    Ohio Fair State Fair organizers recognized what made the fair experience special, then committed themselves to both marketing and enhancing that uniqueness, which paid dividends in 2014. "Diversification is key," said Stricker. "We have good clean fun you can't get anywhere but at a fair. We have agriculture, livestock, rides. You could tell just by the way people are walking around that they were staying longer at the fair."

    In addition, the residents of Ohio - a state hard hit by the economic downturn - seem to possess a mind-set that always boosts the fair business - increased consumer confidence. Strickler, who has been with the fair since 1969, assumed his current title in 2003, stated that while the Great Recession had a devastating impact on Ohio, indicators - such as fair spending - had been on the rise in recent years, and this year that trend continued. "It started last year, when it comes to the economic factor of spending, and that has carried over," said Strickler. "Gas prices haven't gone up, employment is a little better. Our per-caps are up."

    The Ohio Agriculture industry has also been experiencing a rebound, with positive repercussions for the fair. The number of livestock entries grew significantly - an 11 percent increase - and was at the  highest level since 2005.  In addition, there was a 5 percent increase in exhibitors from all of Ohio's 88 counties. "For me, having exhibitors from every corner of the state is a point of pride," explained Strickler. "Whether they are participating in cooking projects or showing their livestock animals, these exhibitors help to showcase our great state."

    Gaurdians of the Galaxy
    Corporate sponsors for the fair were also robust in 2014. The fair's sponsorship program  attracted more national companies, including JoAnnn Fabric and Craft Stores, T-Mobile, and Chevrolet. "Companies have heard about the fair, our sponsorships are on the rise," said Strickler. "The sponsorships also help word of mouth, because they promote their sponsorship to their employees, who then come to the fair. National companies showing an interest in supporting our fair and reaching our audience have been rising."

    In addition, Strickler has seen a growing interest in kind of short-term sponsorship program, which he describes as a "Mobile" promotion - really a variation on the grass-roots, guerrilla marketing model, where a company conducts one-on-one promotions with potential customers. "More and more, companies will come in, not for the entire fair, but for only two or three days, they usually bring a van or truck, with signs and interact with the fairgoers. We are getting more of these each year."

    Not only are more companies taking advantage of the potential of direct marketing to the consumers who comprise the Ohio State Fair demographic, but more different types of products and brands want a fair presence. This year Hollywood discovered the Ohio State Fair. One of the mobile sponsors was the distributors of Guardians of the Galaxy, one of the blockbuster movie hits of the summer. "This was the first time we had a movie sponsor," admitted Strickler. "But the same people who go to fairs for entertainment go to the movies, so why not?"

    Marketing & Advertising
    The Buckeye State summer spectacular has an advertising budget of $334,000, including television, radio, print, outdoor, online and social media advertising. One tweak this year, according to Shoults,  "we removed movie theatre advertising and increased online spending, specifically adding targeted video pre-roll exposure."
    In terms of social media, the fair uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and a Fair blog. "In advance of the Fair, we use our social media outlets to spread the word about the Fair and conduct promotions such as admission and concert ticket giveaways," said Shoults. "During the Fair, we post regular updates about special days, discounts and numerous photos of attractions, performers, livestock shows and more. Many patrons utilize social media to ask questions, and our social media channels are therefore also used as a customer service tool."

    A change in Facebook policy also led the way for the Ohio State Fair to expand it use of this marketing venue. "This year Facebook allowed giveaways and promotions to occur on a Facebook page's wall posts, whereas the previous policy only permitted giveaways to occur on expensive third-party applications," said Shoults.

    As a result, Shoults continued, the fair "greatly increased the number of promotions conducted on Facebook such as concert ticket giveaways and admission ticket giveaways. In turn, this dramatically boosted engagement on the page and created buzz about the Ohio State Fair and its concerts in the time leading up to the Fair."
    Another social media trend was an uptick in Instagram, barely part of the marketing of the 2013 fair. Shoults said there has been "a shift toward increased use of Instagram among fairgoers.  We have therefore increased our presence on Instagram significantly, easily incorporating both photo and video posts and "re-grams" throughout the Fair. In order to increase use of our hashtag and social media profiles, we included the icons, our name and the hashtag in print on our daily schedules of events."

    Old & Young Promotions
    One of the more successful promotions was a Senior Day, where anyone 60 years old and up were had a $4.00 admission fee - a 50 percent discount off the regular senior ticket fee. According to Shoults senior gate admissions increased 324 percent and advance-sale senior group reservations went up 25 percent.

    Another new promotion - targeting the next generation of fairgoers instead of those in their golden years - was "Ag is cool" where 4th graders, accompanied by an adult, received free admissions. "We built stations throughout the fair where people could, actually go and learn about agriculture," said Strickler. The stations fit the term "edu-tainment" - fun, engaging and interactive exhibits that taught lessons about farming, with subjects that included milking cows, soy beans and corn. "The 4th graders were encouraged to write an essay about the diversity of agriculture and submit them within 60 days of the fair. We are giving out scholarships of $500 to the schools of the students who wrote a winning essay."

    Amusements of America provided the fair's midway, which featured 74 rides and benefitted from the robust attendance and per-capita spending jump, with a 5 percent increase in revenue. ($2.2 million gross). The Disk'O and a new Haunted House were two new rides from Amusements of America for the Ohio State Fair.

    Concert Headliners
    The fair's concert series  -- staged at The Celeste Center, an indoor, air-conditioned, 10,000-seat concert arena - included free and paid acts. Free events included Ohio Lottery Cash Explosion Road to Riches Show; All-Ohio State Fair Band & Youth Choir Concert,  Sinatra Forever and Hard Day's Night, tribute shows to Old Blue Eyes and the Fab Four, respectively. Paid shows ranged from $23 to $45, and featured noteworthy multi-act bills such as Boyz II Men with special guest Christon Gray; Lady Antebellum with special guest Joe Nichols; Bachman & Turner / Blue Öyster Cult / Foghat and The Beach Boys / America; Heart / Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin played a solo show on July 31.

    "The concert series this summer was one of the most successful," said Strickler.  "We were fortunate, we had a real diversified line up. We only have 12 days to book, and you have to get the timing right for the routing of the acts, and it's all about routing.  Booking is getting more difficult, but we also want a diverse line up, which we got this year."

    Free entertainment - strolling acts and stage performers - featured hypnotists Ron Diamond and Catherine Hickland - as well as Dino Walk, Matt Jergens, Matt's Family Jam, Spoon Man, Darrill Edwards, Antwan Towner and the Stooge Dudes.

    Big Bacon
    The Ohio State Fair featured 189 food vendors, generating approximately $4.6 million in food revenue. This year the fair kicked the food sales up a notch with an app - Ohio State Fair Food Finder mobile app, a free download for iPhone or Android that enabled fairgoers to locate the vendor preparing their favorite fair cuisine.  The hot food item this year was the "sloppy donut, from Dickerson & Kenna, which featured donut buns with barbecue pulled pork, deep-fried pickle chips, bacon and cheese, which Shoults described as an " incredibly unique food item that can't be found anywhere."  Other popular items among the food concessionaires this year were the Chicken dog, by Marshal's Family Farm, which reimagined the old chicken strip sandwich, the Funnel cake sundae by Berry Barn, Banana dog - a batter coated, deep fried banana served with peanut butter and chocolate sauces, also served by Dickerson & Kenna, and a new "popcorn" concoction by Dippin' Dots - Kettle Corn Dippin' Dots.

    The variety of food vendors was in keeping with Strickler's mission to make the fair as diverse as the state it calls home. "The fair business is healthy if you offer customers a range of attractions," said Stricker. "We get great support from the Governor, Ohio businesses and the people of the state.  "For many people, visiting the Ohio State Fair is an annual tradition. "We're thrilled that even more families came out to celebrate Ohio this summer, and we hope that they will come back to see us next year."

QuickHits News | Industry Buzz | Forum LED lighting LED lighting LED lighting
HEADLINES from the web
Amusements of America
Gwinnett County Fair
Lawrenceville, GA
9/11/2014 - 9/21/2014
Wade Shows
Oklahoma State Fair
Oklahoma City, OK
9/11/2014 - 9/21/2014
Fiesta Shows
Rochester Fair
Exit 13 off Spaulding Turnpike, Rochester, NH
9/12/2014 - 9/21/2014
Poor Jack Amusements
Bluffton Free Street Fair
Bluffton, IN
9/16/2014 - 9/20/2014
Wade Shows
North Alabama State Fair
Muscle Shoals, AL
9/16/2014 - 9/21/2014
Amusements of America
Lenoir County Fair
Kinston, NC
9/16/2014 - 9/21/2014

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..]

2013 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. Eastern State Exhibition

View Top 50 Fairs

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The Industry Buzz
Deggeller Attractions signs long term contract extension at York Fair
Deggeller Attractions announced today that the show signed a new long term contract extension at the historic York Fair (York, PA).  Deggeller has provided the midway at the fair since 2010.  Previously, the fair was played by Reithoffer Shows for a number of years.  Deggeller fields a main midway and a second kiddieland on the opposite side of the fairgrounds, complete with a Chance Giant Wheel and Century Wheel, Huss Super Nova and Top Spin, a full size roller coaster, among others.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/15/2014
Minnesota State Fair breaks all time attendance record
The 2014 Minnesota State Fair set an all time attendance record with over 1,824,830 guests passing through the gate.  This broke the previous record of 1,790,497 that was set in 2009. 
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/2/2014
McDonagh's add new features to Big Bamboo Fun House
During a recent visit with Tom and Jeanne McDonagh at the Minnesota State Fair, the couple reported that they were awaiting delivery of a new trick from Italy for their spectacular fun house, the Big Bamboo.  The initial part of the fun house is on ground level and features a unique walkway over a water tank and a rock cave with overhead waterfall.  The new trick will be located just after guests pass through the cave and will be a platform "similar to a Whac a Mole Game where guests have to walk over objects popping up from the ground" described McDonagh.  At the Minnesota State Fair, they added a fog element to the fun houses smoke stack located on top of the tug boat.  For 2014, the fun house has played the Florida State Fair, Houston Livestock Show, San Diego County Fair, Wisconsin State Fair, the Minnesota State Fair and will conclude its season at the State Fair of Texas.  So far, McDonagh reported a successful season.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 8/29/2014
Showmen Supplies to carry Fabbri ride parts

Showmen Supplies has reached an agreement with the Fabbri Group, an Italian manufacturer of amusement rides, to be the exclusive distributor of Fabbri amusement ride parts for the United States and Canada.

Scott Siefker, Vice President of Showmen Supplies, said, "Because our core business already revolves around the logistics of component part supply, we felt we were ideally suited to managing a ride parts distributorship to service Fabbri ride owners." When asked what would be the greatest benefit of this deal, Siefker stated, "We have 48 years of customer service experience in the amusement industry. This will be a great advantage to owners of Fabbri equipment whose business depends on having their rides in operation and not out of commission while they wait for shipments to arrive from Europe. We know that when they call they need replacement parts to be in stock and shipped quickly and we have a great history of doing exactly that."

Last month, Showmen Supplies acquired the existing US-based Fabbri parts inventory from Amusement Sales, Inc. and has embarked on an expansion of that inventory to have the most commonly sought parts readily available to Fabbri ride owners.  Confronting the task now before them, Scott Siefker said, "We'll have lots of work to do in expanding our parts database, learning the equipment functionality, and familiarizing ourselves with new mechanical systems but I know we're up for the challenge and will do a great job for our customers."

  Posted by Matt Cook on 8/15/2014
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.


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

Deggeller Attractions is now hiring ride, game, food, cdl drivers, and more.  Visit to apply.

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

Show Paint Wizard - now introducing custom vinyl wraps for your rides, concessions, and more!

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