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  • Carnival Industry Mourns the Loss of Bobby Leonard
    3/1/2017
    On January 27, 2017 carnival veteran and life-long concessionaire Bobby Leonard passed away. Leonard is survived by his beloved wife of over 50 years, Mary Jean, his daughter, Jean, his son, Jimmy, as well as five grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren (with one on the way).

    Bobby Leonard grew up as one of eleven children in rural North Carolina. He and his family grew up very poor and while Leonard was young, he experienced the end of the Great Depression. When the carnival came to town, Leonard and a couple of his brothers would help tear down rides to earn extra money for their family. Four boys from the North Carolina town (2 of whom were Bobby and his brother) ran away with the carnival, World of Mirth Shows. The carnival travelled by train and once the boys were discovered amongst the load, they were in danger of being thrown off. However, Wilbur Cook's father happened to be with the show and had seen what hard workers the boys were and vouched for them so that they could continue to travel with the show. Bobby Leonard was just 13 the first time he ran away. His father followed the carnival and made his sons come home. But, shortly after that time, Leonard and his brother ran away with the carnival again and when his father came back to retrieve him the second time, he allowed his son to stay once he saw how much money he had made to send home to his family.  

    Once officially a part of the industry, Bobby Leonard started off working for Walter Cox. He did whatever jobs needed to be done: tear down, loading, etc. According to his daughter, Jean, her father had a fantastic work ethic; "He was part of the generation that really worked. He did whatever the show needed and loved doing it." After a while, Bobby Leonard used the money he earned to start buying his own equipment. Leonard hopped around from location to location and somehow ended up in Oklahoma City early on in his career where he met his wife, Mary Jean. She came from a long line of carnival women: she was the 3rd generation in her family making their daughter, Jean, 4th generation. Mary Jean and Bobby eloped and got married on July 20th, 1966; their daughter, Jean, was born exactly a year and a day after their wedding day. The newly married Leonards lived in Gibsonton and then would work winter quarters in Miami. 

    Jean Leonard describes her dad as a carpenter and designer who liked to think outside the box. He was always brainstorming ways to keep the size of the game trucks and trailers down while still having room to live and work in the truck. Bobby, Mary Jean, Jimmy, and Jean Leonard spent most of their lives living in the back of the games. Jean distinctly remembers that the truck would back up onto the midway and the back end would have the duck pond game in it and a sliding door would separate the back half of the truck with the game from the front part of the game with the living quarters. This way, Mary Jean could run the duck pond game while also watching the kids throughout the spot. Jean recalls her father always saying, " the truck pays for itself." 

    Jean says that growing up in the carnival and living in the back of the game until they were 18 caused her family to grow extremely close. Jean says, "We were a working family. each one of us had a job. At the end of the night we would play games together or help count the money from the day and its not like now where there's internet and all kinds of things to distract people we had to keep ourselves and each other entertained." 
        
    Bobby Leonard mostly hopped around from spot to spot in the Midwest and then eventually settled down with Astro Amusements for about 20 years. Jean says that her dad loved the independence and the rewards that came with working in the carnival industry as a concessionaire; "He loved that the harder you worked, the luckier you got. There wasn't much opportunity where he grew up and in this industry hard work and ambition are rewarded." 

    Bobby eventually retired and built a house on the river to relax with his wife. Over time, his health deteriorated. Jean says that their family feels lucky to have had all the time that they did with him. According to Jean, in this industry, it's easy to lose someone from an accident or the long hours and the Leonard family is thankful that Bobby lived a long and fulfilling life. Recently, the Leonard Family went on a cruise to celebrate Bobby and Mary Jean's 50th wedding anniversary. Jean said it was a wonderful trip and she's glad to have those memories with her father. 

    Bobby Leonard's service was held on Tuesday, January 31, at the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton. Jean says that at the service she realized what a positive impact her father had on many people's lives. People recalled stories and sayings her dad always shared while on the road. Bobby Leonard always had a smile on his face and an engaged group of people around him invested in a story or joke he was telling. Jean recalls one of her father's most meaningful sayings; "You're my horse even if you never win the race." This was Bobby's way of saying he supports and loves the people in his life no matter how successful they are or what they've accomplished. Jean also says her dad and and uncle loved playing softball and actually raised the money to build the softball field behind the Showmen's Club in Gibsonton; they recently named the field "Leonard Field" in their honor. 


  • New Grants & More Youth Boost Michigan Fairs
    2/27/2017
    While a nasty summer heat wave and rain may have marred several Michigan fairs - and the economy in the state is not yet fully out of its doldrums - the state's fair industry remains resilient and forward-looking, according to Steve Thelen, President of the Michigan Association of Fairs & Exhibitions and Assistant Treasurer, Saline Community Fair.

    "Fairs had a pretty good year, depending on the heat and rain," he said. "But even fairs that had the 90 plus degree weather are positive about the upcoming year, we're a resilient bunch."

    The economy may still be suffering in the state, but the entertainment appeal of local, agricultural oriented fairs seems to be growing. "People are coming out, and we are seeing a steady rise in attendance," said Thelen. "Like a lot of parts of the country, our economy is starting to come back. The idea of a stay-cation is pretty strong, people are looking for entertainment closer to home."

    Youth Movement
    The annual convention of the Michigan Association of Fairs & Exhibitions had a total attendance of 1,264, representing 73 fairs and festivals (a total of 86 fairs are members), and 97 associate members. Thelen noted that attendance increased by "about 50 people."

    Unlike other states who worry about the graying of their fair industry, at this year's convention an influx of younger fair professionals was apparent. According to Thelen, this youth movement is occurring from many different levels. "I have been noticing that we've had success with young people, many are going on to successful careers in agriculture and coming back to the fair," he said. "We are seeing more young people joining fair boards, helping the fair out."

    Much of this Gen Y/X interest is related to local-vore movements in Michigan. "People are asking more questions about where their food is coming from," he said. "The younger people coming into the agriculture industry are promoting agriculture education, and buying local, and we are seeing this interest more and more across the state." 
     
    A youth Ad-Hoc committee was formed at the convention made up of young professionals -- under 45 - said Thelan. Beyond just being a catalyst to formalize and strengthen the presence of new blood in the organization, the objectives of the new committee are still being formed. "We've had a few discussions and we've gotten the Ad-Hoc committee off the ground, and they are increasing their participation and influence on the association and fairs." 

    Entertainment Showcase
    The tradeshow show floor had 78 booths, and a total of 14 showcase acts, including three for a special Kids Showcase. According to Thelen, trade show exhibitors have been increasing, resulting in a "re-landscaping" of the floor to accommodate extra booths and incorporate "seating areas for different meetings," he said. "The trade show has been increasing, we are seeing more insurance companies, but also more types of acts, more local music acts."

    The county and local fairs in Michigan are moving away from nationally known headliners, going towards more regional acts, which offer lower costs and often a loyal local following. "We are seeing more local acts at the convention and who are playing multiple fairs. You are generally taking a gamble with a big name, and I think with all the competition, many people prefer to see a big concert in a venue other than a grandstand at fair, there are so many other opportunities than the annual fair to see them. It's tougher to make money on the big acts, because you not only have to pay the them, but all the accessory costs like stage, lighting and sound are higher."

    While the local and regional acts are filling in some of the entertainment gaps left by so many headliners pricing themselves out of the Michigan fair market, other nights are being filled with spectacles, especially motor sports. Thelen pointed out that innovation is occurring in this segment, making it easier for fairs to feature more than one night of vehicular entertainment. "You are seeing demo derbies being reinvented, and there are different types of tractor pulls now. Some fairs can have two different nights of tractor pulls or demo derbies and not repeat themselves, it works out well."
     
    Grant Writing
    The convention featured 49 workshops, the most-well attended being a series of grant writing workshops. Michigan's state government cut much of their previous funding for fairs, but there is a capital improvement competitive grant program - which requires matching funds - but eligible fairs can receive up to $20,000. There are also a handful of other grants available to fairs. The workshops featured speakers and instructions on the nuts and bolts of writing grant proposals. "It was a very well attended, and we are encouraging all our fairs to apply for grants."

    He added, "the workshops were very good, went over the nuts and bolts of state grant writing and the attendees became more confident about writing grants." 

    Prior to the convention, state legislators allocated $6 million to this grant program, said Thelen. The Michigan Association of Fairs & Exhibitions is actively increasing their lobbying effort, and plans are in place for a Legislative Day in March, where fair representatives will meet the state political leaders "to acquaint them with fairs in the state, who we are and what we do," he said. The meeting is especially critical this year, with 46 new legislators starting new terms this year and the 2018 budget being worked on.

    But the game plan seems to be more along the lines of securing what support Michigan county and local fairs do receive than trying to increase their state support. The resiliency Thelen has seen among his membership is not just about serving bad weather fair days, but finding new revenue streams. "People are working much harder at fundraising for their fair so they can match the grants they do get," he said.

    Several workshops on sponsorship programs were also well attended, said Thelan. Fairs are getting better finding national and local sponsors, with the latter seeing some new energy by more targeted programs and closer collaborations with local, mom & pop business. "We are seeing with the mom & pop businesses, that they are sponsoring specific things within the fair," he explained. "For instance, they are sponsoring a shuttle bus from the parking lots to the fairgrounds. The buy-in can be cheaper, so that's attractive to the smaller business, we are seeing a lot of those kinds of things, because they get exposure and are associated with the fair, which they want. For the fair, it's great because it covers expenses for different parts of the fair." 

    Awards given out at the convention included: "Youth Volunteer of the Year"—Michael Omans, Newaygo County Fair; Nathen Kronemeyer, Chippewa County Fair; Carlie Thueme, St Clair County 4-H & Youth Fair. "Volunteer of the Year" - Gerald Blanchette, Monroe County Fair, Gary Hoppa Newaygo County Fair; Katie Hartsuff, Shiawassee County Fair; Tammy Fettig, Emmet Charlevoix County Fair; Darren Keller, Chippewa County Fairl; Nancy Koehler, Saline Community Fair.

    "Heritage Award" - Robert Armstead, St Clair County 4-H & Youth Fair; Chuck Goeke, Ingham County Fair; Keith Cronenwett, Monroe County Fair; Margaret Wegner, Midland County Fair; Deb Kayga, Oakland County Fair; Earl Kelley, Lenawee County Fair; Elaine Masters, Saline Community Fair, Bob DeClerg (deceased) Shiawassee County Fair. 

    Individuals inducted into the Michigan Association of Fairs & Exhibitions  Hall of Fame at the convention, were: Greg Dziewicki, Liberty Group Insurance; John Currie, Mecosta County Fair; Joe Skerbeck, Skerbeck Entertainment Group; James Elliott, Elliott's Amusements LLC; Ivan Arnold, Arnold Amusements; Carol Brittem, Manchester Community Fair; anndLC & Jackie Scramlin, Oakland County Fair.


  • Illinois Fairs Unite Against Funding Uncertainty & Struggling Economy
    2/24/2017
    The state government of Illinois still has no budget. The impact of this state-of-the-state on the 102 fairs who are members of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs has meant a lot of struggle, but also is a powerful catalyst that has resulted in a better motivated fair coalition. 

    Even as challenges loom in the year ahead for Illinois fairs, the 107th annual convention of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs, which featured the annual crowning of Miss Illinois County Fair Queen was a success. "We had a successful convention," said Charlyn Fargo, Executive Secretary, Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs. "For a lot of our fairs, it's their way of saying thank you to their volunteers by sending them to the convention. Our fairs get really involved in the pageant and the convention. They come here and get a lot of new ideas." 

    Budget Impasse
     More than 90 of the association's member fairs and festivals were represented with more than 3,500 in attendance, a strong, if not record, turnout. The trade show exhibition floor featured 90 booths, an increase over the 2016 exhibition booth allotment; also 30 associate members sponsored hospitality rooms, including carnivals as well as motor sports/tractor & truck pulling companies. "We had a very successful trade show," said Fargo. "There continues to be an increase in fairs offering motorized sports, and we had a nice wide variety of entertainment."
     
    Both the economy and many fairs are struggling due to the inability of the legislature and governor to agree on a state budget. "The business climate is very difficult in Illinois, the lack of a budget has affected everything," said Fargo. 

    A recovery-resistant state economy, lagging consumer confidence and uncertain status of fair funding are just some of the main ramifications of the state government operating without a state budget. In spite of these obstacles - not to mention an unbearably hot heat wave - the fair industry in Illinois had a positive 2016. "Some fairs were hard hit, but overall, last year was successful for fairs," she said. "A lot of people are staying local for their vacation, because of the economy, so that helped fair attendance."

    While the state has cut funding for agricultural fairs, Fargo said it remained flat in 2016 but even that spending was hampered by the state government issues. In lieu of a state budget, spending approval is conducted by the slower and less sustainable stop-gap measures. By the end of last year, government support may have arrived later than previous years causing some budgetary headaches for fairs, but "most of the fairs have gotten checks from the State Department of Agriculture," said Fargo. "The funding ended up being the same last year as it was the year before." 

    What lays in store for funding in 2017 was uncertain at the time of the annual convention of the  Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs, with Fargo noting that the opening days of the new legislative session coincided with the association's meeting. "We're hopeful that funding will continue and will be in the new budget, but the legislature was just in session with the convention," she said.
     
    The association has "hired a full time lobbyist to make sure we are part of the budget debate," she said. However, the lobbying effort was not "part of the convention," she said. In March, the organizations holds a legislative meeting focusing on lobbying and other political issues. Two years ago, the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs released the "Economic Impact of Illinois Agricultural Fairs," a study conducted by the University of Illinois that concluded Illinois fairs generated $170 million in spending. 

    Fargo said the association is intent on "making sure the legislators" understand the findings of the study, but also "the county fairs are encouraged to use the impact study to show how important fairs are for each county's economy. We can bring this to companies and use it not just for funding from the state, but for sponsorships and support from communities and local businesses." 

    Sponsorship Emphasis
    Jeremy Parsons, manager of the Clay County Fair, was a keynote speaker at the convention, and he addressed how fairs can better outreach to communities. "He spoke of making an impact and how we can tally up the volunteers and employees, and how to make people know who your fair is impacting your local economy, making people aware that the money spent at the fair is staying local." 

    In addition, Jennifer Giesike President/CEO Washington Town and Country Fair Washington, MO, spoke on how after enduring the loss of state support for the fair, "succeeded with sponsorships."

    According to Giesike (A PDF of highlights of her presentation are available on the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs website), sponsorships at the Washington Town and Country Fair went from $65,000 in 2003 - the year state funding was cut - to $246,000 in 2015, a more than 300 percent increase in the last 10 years. One of her points is expanding the array of available sponsorships and customizing "benefit packages for sponsors," with Sponsorships now ranging from $100 - $25,000.

     Other workshops at the convention included: "Using Social Media Tools to improve your Fair's and your Business' Bottom Line." With future state support in jeopardy and the state economy stuck in the doldrums, the consensus at the convention was that the fairs had to become more proactive in increasing their community outreach, attendance and spending. "We are trying to encourage our fairs to be less dependent on state funding and get more of their funding from sponsors and other things," said Fargo. "Some fairs are forming nonprofit foundations to fund some of their projects that need to be done, and we had several workshops on marketing, advertising and looking at ways that were successful in creating more excitement for your fairs through social media, so you don't have to spend as much of your budget on advertising." 

    Queen Coronation
    A main feature of the convention however was the annual coronation of Illinois royalty. 

    Claudia VanOpdorp of the Henry County Fair was crowned the 58th Miss Illinois County Fair Queen. VanOpdorp will be a summer employee of the Department of Agriculture, travel to about 30 county fairs, and will be the official hostess of the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fair. As Queen, VanOpdorp's main duty is to emphasize the importance of agriculture and county fairs to Illinois.

    Another highlight of the annual convention is the bestowing of the Friend of Illinois County Fairs Award, which recognizes individuals from county fairs across the State who have donated their time, efforts and unique contributions to the Fair Industry. According to the association's press release, the prestigious award was given to five recipients in 2017:

     Phil Hartke, Effingham County Fair; Dean Page - Boone County Fair Association; Jane Cross - Richland County Fair; Don Moffitt, Representative in the Illinois General Assembly for 23 years; and State Senator John Sullivan, who is retiring from office this year. According to the association's press release: "Senator Sullivan…the lone State Senator with a farm background… was always accessible, approachable, and always willing to work with the Association concerning funding issues..."

  • PA Fairs Fight Funding Cuts & Recommit to Agriculture
    2/22/2017
    Last year's summer heatwave and rainy weekends took a toll on Keystone State fairs, but when the Pennsylvania fair industry gathered in January they found an expanded trade show floor and  a well-organized association ready to confront critical problems concerning the longevity of their fairs, especially damaging changes to a key state fair funding law recently proposed in the Pennsylvania State legislature.

    The Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs represents 109 affairs, and at their annual mid-January convention 1,665 fair professionals attended, according to Harry Reffner, Secretary/Treasure, who said the attendance was about the same as at last year's meeting. The state's fair industry was coming off a sometimes difficult year in 2016 but never-the-less are positive things will improve in 2017. 

    "Weather had a big factor for those that had problems" he said. "Pennsylvania is slowly coming out of the recession, and there are other places that are vying for the entertainment dollar that makes it more difficult to compete."

    He added that "the convention was very productive" and overall, fair members "are optimistic that 2017 will be a better year."

    Trade Show Grows
    Some of that optimism can be attributed to the growth of interest in the fair sector by an array of vendors seeing an opportunity. There were 187 trade show booths, an increase of about 10 percent, said Reffner. The Entertainment Showcase was expanded to 19 acts, "we got a lot of high quality acts, so we decided to increase the amount of the acts we see, but cut the time of their performance," he said. 

    While regional music acts had a strong presence, as both vendors and showcase participants, there were more ground acts present this year. "There is more interest in local entertainment, we had music, magicians, hypnotists and grounds acts," he said. "Fairs seem to be looking to expand that area of the fair, picking up more local entertainment."

    An entertainment highlight of the convention was a performance at the Annual Banquet of the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs by Jo Dee Messina, a Grammy Award Nominee whose had nine number one hits on the Country Music Charts.

    The increase in entertainers as well as other trade show vendors has been a steady trend for Pennsylvania fairs. "Our reputation keeps growing, and people, entertainers and business, are becoming more aware of our convention and fairs. We are seeing more people who want to participate and hearing from them throughout the year wanting to participate in the convention. We are getting more people not just from Pennsylvania, but New York and Ohio."

    Fighting Cutbacks
    The political situation concerning fairs in Pennsylvania was a much on the minds of attendees. Unlike many states that are cutting back fair funding, Pennsylvania may not be drastically slashing funding, but there is a legislative move to reapportion the funding.  The proposed new formula for determining the funds may mean some fairs will no longer receive their support. Pennsylvania has a diverse range of smaller fairs, including small fairgrounds, fairs that lease space and even old fashioned Grange Fairs, which are essentially tented fairs with little to no buildings on the fairgrounds. 

    State funding provided supplemental support for both operations and capital improvements, but the new proposed Fair Fund Act restricts that support to only capital improvements, essentially upkeep and improvements to facilities and infrastructure.

    This could hurt the dozens of smaller fairs that either do not own their fairgrounds or do not have an abundance of buildings or other facilities. These fairs rely on the operational support by the state government, support that could be eliminated if the new act is signed into law. "It could be very detrimental to the smaller fairs," said Reffner. We are in the process of looking over the proposed changes and are working with our legislators." 

    Zachary K. Gihorski, Fair Coordinator with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Market Development, conducted a round table discussion on the Fair Fund Act, although Reffner emphasized that while parts of the act will potentially hurt some fairs, the bill is still in a preliminary stage.
    Reffner pointed out the association has strengthened its lobbying efforts "for the past several years, and we are increasing the awareness of fairs with the state house and senate." 

    Farm Commitment
    Much of the support - and the awareness - has come from the association member fairs' commitment to agriculture. "We get strong support from the department of agriculture and from Governor Wolfe (Tom Wolfe, Governor of Pennsylvania). We have stronger representation and support. Agriculture is the number one industry in Pennsylvania and fairs are an important part of agriculture."

    The commitment to agriculture by the association was apparent at the annual conventions, with a fresh approach to some perennial topics, such as If a Livestock Disease Outbreak Happens at the Fair - Are You Ready?. A real nuts-and-bolts seminar, the discussion all aspects of handling an outbreak, from publicity and dealing with news media to who should be in charge and how to handle with the diseased animals. "Fairs are very aware the potential problems with an outbreak," he said. "Last year the avian ban was lifted, and we've had swine flu outbreaks. It was very well attended." 

    Another seminar on Ag Media Communication, presented by Kirby Dygert, explored "how to bridge the gap between the non-ag community.  He also presented "Two Organizations With A Common Goal, Same Mission: Working With Livestock Associations," which encouraged fair organizers to search for opportunities to "to work with livestock associations whether they are youth associations such are the National Junior Swine Association or adult associations such as the New York Beef Producers. No matter if they are national or local organizations; the joint efforts of the two combined always help to increase the attendance at your shows and help promote the industry as a whole.," according to the convention program."

    Why Think Ag. presented by Jean Lonie, Director of Student Recruitment and Activities, Pennsylvania State University, was even  more directly aligned with the ag mission of the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs - looking at how fairs can use "agriculture in promoting your fair and connecting the community to Pennsylvania's number one industry… your fair can be a key part of the story in why agriculture matters- and agriculture can be a great way to engage and attract more visitors.

    "Our top priority and primary purpose is to promote agriculture, and we are finding new ways to relate agriculture to fairgoers," he  said. "One of the top things people like to see at the fair are live animals, whether it's showing how cows are milked or chickens are hatched. It's important for people to know where their food is coming from and it's remarkable how people love the education exhibits at the fairs." 

    The annual convention of the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs also saw the swearing in of President David Hallstrom, Board Director, of the Clearfield Fair & Park, and as Vice President, Dr. Sally Nolt, Secretary of the Elizabethtown Fair. Fair of the Year Awards were given to: Zone 1 - Clearfield County Fair; Zone 2 - Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair; Zone 3 - West Alexander Fair; and Zone 4 - Delaware Valley A Day Fair.

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Strates Shows
St. Lucie County Fair
Fort Pierce, FL
2/24/2017 - 3/5/2017
California Carnival Co.
Spring Fling
Stockton, CA
3/1/2017 - 3/5/2017
Arnold Amusements
San Pedro Community Festival
North Port, FL
3/2/2017 - 3/5/2017
Belle City Amusement
FL. Strawberry Festival
Plant City, FL
3/2/2017 - 3/12/2017
Wade Shows
Central Florida Fair
Orlando, FL
3/2/2017 - 3/19/2017
Butler Amusements
West Valley Fair & Music Festival
Glendale, AZ
3/3/2017 - 3/5/2017
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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

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The Industry Buzz
Showmen's League Canadian Chapter Elects Richard K Spear as New President
The Showmen's Leaque of America Canadian Chapter held its annual Past Presidents Dinner on February 16 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.  The club elected Richard K Spear as its new president.  Congratulations Richard on your upcoming presidency!
  Posted by Matt Cook on 3/1/2017
Jimmy Coffield Jr. Passes
Life long food concessionaire Jimmy Coffield Jr. passed away suddenly in his sleep this morning. Jimmy loved the amusement industry and most notably, the people in it. Jimmy resided in Durham North Carolina and traveled with his father on many shows up and down the East coast. Jimmy is survived by is wife Becky and his 2 daughters daughters Victoria and Brooke. Jimmy's sense of humor and smile made him beloved by others. If making people laugh was an Olympic sport, he would have been a gold medalist.


  Posted by Obiturary on 2/22/2017
Maple Leaf Purchases New Rides for 2017
At the Michigan Association of Fairs & Exhibitions Convention in Grand Rapids, January 12-14, Erin and John Fitzgerald owners of Maple Leaf Amusements, announced several new major ride purchases.  The show based in Brekenridge, Michigan will enter the 2017 season in April with the addition of a Mulligan Sea Ray and a Chance Yo Yo.  The Show also added a brand new Watkins Expo Wheel with all LED lighting in July last year and a Wisdom Himalaya in 2015.  The show also added the Kalamazoo County Fair, August 7-12 to its route.  Maple Leaf Amusements plays a variety of festivals and county fairs in Michigan and Indiana.  

  Posted by Michael Prelesnik on 2/20/2017
Midway Sky Eye Opens at the Florida State Fair
The Wade Shows 46 meter Midway Sky Eye made its debut at the Florida State Fair today.  The ribbon cutting was held on the fairgrounds after inspection was completed.  Frank Zaitshik, the ride's co-owner, Adam Putnam, Commissioner of Agriculture, Cheryl Flood, Florida State Fair Executive Director, Doyle Carlton, FSFA Board Chairman and other board members and Chamber of Commerce members joined to cut the ribbon and open the ride to the public.

The first rides were taken by the board members and dignitaries as well as 100 lucky "Golden Ticket" winners that were chosen to be among the first to ride.

The ride was delayed for opening when it was delayed at customs after coming in from the Netherlands.  After a weekend delay, the ride was setup while Denny's Electronics assembled the and installed the lights for each 75' sweep.  




  Posted by Ron Weber on 2/13/2017
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
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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