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The Industry Buzz

The Industry Buzz features carnival, amusement park, fair and festivals news direct from the lots. If you have newsworthy information that you would like to share on, please email For full feature news articles and exclusive interviews, please check our news and interviews section.

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

New rides for the MN State Fair
Several new attractions will be making their debut in Minnesota for the 2014 Minnesota State Fair including Reithoffer Shows' spectacular Stinger, built by Technical Park of Italy.  The Stinger will be taking the place of the Freak Out, which Reithoffer has been bringing to the fair the last couple of years.  Other new attractions slated for the fair include Myers International Midways Crazy Dance, Wave Swinger, and Monster Truck as well as the Dartron Hog Rally from Rose's Rides.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 8/8/2014

Dixieland Carnival adds KMG Experience
Billy Tucker's Dixieland Carnival added another spectacular ride to its lineup, the KMG Experience.  The Experience is one of only two traveling in the USA and previously belonged to Phoenix based Ray Cammack Shows.  The other Experience is owned by Frazier Shows, also based out of Arizona. 
  Posted by Matt Cook on 8/8/2014

Mary Vakulskas, mother of Carnival Priest, John Vakulskas passes

Mary Vakulskas, loving mother of Tom, Janet,Maria and Father John Vakulskas died July 20, 2014 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Visitation, Wednesday, July 23 3-8 p.m. at the
Christy-Smith Funeral Home
Larkin Chapel
2320 Outer Drive North
Sioux City IA 51104

Funeral: Thursday, July 24 at 10:30 a.m.
Church of the Nativity
4242 Natalia Way
Sioux City, IA 51106

  Posted by Matt Cook on 7/22/2014

Walter F. Larson, original manufacturer of the Super Loops, passes

Walter F. Larson, original manufacturer of the Super Loops ride, passed away on July 18, 2014.  Walter F. Larson was born on Sept. 26, 1930, to Walter W. Larson and Anita Jarvis Larson.  Upon graduation from Plainview High School, he attended American Flyers pilot training school in Fort Worth. He married his high school sweetheart Sharon Turner on April 9, 1950. He worked for Claude Hutcherson as a charter pilot and held special fond memories of the medical charter flights he flew. Later, he opened a Ferguson tractor dealership which became known as Larson-Turner Massey-Ferguson located at Fifth Street and Yonkers in Plainview. After selling the dealership to the James Brothers, he ventured into manufacturing high clearance tractors. He possessed a unique and uncanny ability to take what was good and make it awesome. These tractors were customized for a number of unique applications which included being used on tomato plantations, harvesting grapes and corn de-tasseling. He also manufactured Versa-trac highway sweepers. In the early 1970s, he began manufacturing amusement rides and is best known for the Super Loops carnival ride, known today as The Ring of Fire. Featured in the movie "Big, "SuperLoops was the ride Tom Hanks was not big enough to ride. He retired from this business in 2007.

He is preceded in death by a daughter, Melinda Larson. He is survived by his wife of more than 64 years, Sharon Larson; sister Sally Hale of Lubbock; daughters, Sarah Larson of Elgin, Texas, Loretta Haynes and husband Jim of Las Cruces, N.M., and Alice Kofahl and husband Lloyd of Dallas. He is survived by six grandchildren - Dr. Ann Marie Baker and her husband Dr. Chris Baker of Damon, Texas, Andrea Hebison and husband Kent of Lubbock, Larson Hampton and wife Brandi of Aledo, Texas, Katherine Kofahl, Laura Kofahl and Lee Kofahl, all of Dallas. He is survived by eight great-grandchildren, Aria Gras, Ainsley Baker, Preston Baker, Kayden Russell, Addison Hampton, Levi Hampton, Ashlynn Hebison and Zavery Hebison; nephews Tom Andrews of Bowling Green, Va., Jim Andrews of Lubbock, and niece Anita Page of Lubbock.

Memorial services for Walter F. Larson were held on July 21, 2014.  Memorial contributions may be made to: St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 710 Joliet St., Plainview, TX 79072 or Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, 600 SW 11th Ave., Amarillo, TX 79101 or to one's favorite charity.

  Posted by Obituary on 7/21/2014

Wade Shows ranked top finalist by Florida State Fair Authority
The Florida State Fair announced Wade Shows was the top ranked finalist to submit a bid to operate the midway at the Florida State Fair.  The Fair has invited Wade Shows to enter negotiations with the fair to coordinate the midway at the 2015, 2016, and 2017 state fairs.  If a contractual agreement between Wade Shows and the Florida State Fair Authority is not reached, the fair will then enter into negotiations with the second ranked highest bidder, Reithoffer Shows.  As more details are announced, we will report them here.  Posted by Matt Cook on 7/8/2014

Miller Spectacular expands route into Kentucky; adds five rides
Freddy Miller reported a strong start to his family's carnival, Miller Spectacular Shows, 2014 season.  Miller expanded its route into Kentucky, picking up several county fairs previously played by Myers International Midways, including the Taylor County Fair in Campbellsville.  So far, Miller has been happy with the new spots on his route and sees a lot of opportunity for growth.  "The fair board at Taylor County was great to work with.  They were very accommodating and open to ideas on ways to grow the fair in the future".   Miller also reported the purchase of five rides including a Zamperla Samba Balloon and Surfs Up.  The Samba Balloon replaces the shows old balloon ride which was damaged in an accident earlier this season.  The show also added two new Schantz food trailers earlier in the year.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 6/27/2014

Big Rock Amusements adds former McDonagh Amusements Sky Wheel to ride lineup
Matt and Kelly McDonagh's Big Rock Amusements added a Chance Sky Wheel to their ride lineup this past month.  The Sky Wheel was formerly owned by Matt's parents show, McDonagh Amusements before being sold to a private party in 2012.  While the piece is in excellent condition, the show plans to upgrade the existing neon lighting on the ride to something more dependable.  The Sky Wheel is currently in operation on the Big Rock Amusements route.  Last fall, the show purchased Smokey Mountain Amusements Sky Wheel with plans to refurbish it over the winter, however, the project was not complete when the show went on the road this spring.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 6/2/2014

IAAPA Extends Agreement to Host IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando through 2025

Officials from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), Visit Orlando, and the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) today announced a six-year extension of their agreement to host IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando through 2025. Approximately 28,800 people from more than 100 nations participated in IAAPA Attractions Expo 2013. The weeklong event is the largest conference and trade show for the worldwide attractions industry and it generates approximately $51.3 million for the Orlando-area economy.  The new contract represents an extension of IAAPA’s previous agreement to host the Expo in Orlando from 2010 through 2019.

Read more (click here)

  Posted by IAAPA PR / Matt Cook on 5/28/2014

Brookhaven Fair off to a good start

After a successful run at Fair Productions managed Hudson Valley Fair, Strates Shows and Fair Productions look forward to a busy weekend at the Brookhaven Fair in Farmingville, NY.

Pictured above are Jim Strates, Strates Shows, and Brian Schuman, Fair Productions.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 5/21/2014

Bluff City Shows Owner, Delmer Giles passes
According to industry sources close to the Giles family, Bluff City Shows founder and owner Delmer Giles passed away over the weekend.  Delmer founded Bluff City Shows in 1963 and primarily played the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  He is survived by his wife, Evelyn, his two sons and daughter.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 5/19/2014

Jeremy Floyd buys Zamperla Disko
Jeremy Floyd has added a fourth ride to his lineup of independent rides, a Zamperla Disko, which was purchased from a park on the East Coast.  Floyd will be booking the piece independently with other shows as well as some independent fairs.  The Disko will accompany three other rides including the Down Draft, Zero Gravity, and the Mondial Space Roller which Floyd has been working on restoring over the past year.  The Space Roller was brought to the USA by his aunt, Jane Baxter, who used the piece independently for more than a decade.  In 2012 she sold the ride to Walter Murphy, who used the ride for a year before selling it to Floyd.  Floyd has put a considerable amount of work into the piece including rebuilding the backwall, LED lighting upgrades, as well as other mechanical and cosmetic repairs.  In a January interview at the South Florida Fair, Jeremy told us “it is still a work in progress but we’re getting there”.  Posted by Matt Cook on 5/2/2014

Hazel M. Staley, 86, of Gaithersburg, MD passed away on April 12, 2014

Survived by her husband, Mehrle E. Staley, Jr. Hazel was Secretary, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Agricultural Center and Fair for 38 years, Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Fairs for 12 years, member of the International Association of Agricultural Fairs and Expositions, Secretary Treasurer for Zone 2 Fairs, and was the Secretary Treasurer of the Maryland Association of Fairs and Shows. Hazel judged at many fairs and taught judging school in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. She received her Certified Fair Executive Degree in IAFE. Hazel liked to help young people and enjoyed traveling. She visited 48 states, only missing Hawaii and Alaska.

A celebration of life for Hazel Staley was held on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 11:00 am in the Heritage Building at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.  In keeping with Hazel’s tradition of feeding those around her, there was be a luncheon following the service.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to do so can make a contribution to the "Hazel Staley Scholarship Fund".

Scholarships of $1,000 minimum, will be awarded annually by the Scholarship Committee at the Montgomery County Agriculture Center.

Please make checks payable to MCAC and indicate on the note section of the check "Hazel Staley".

Montgomery County Agriculture Center, Inc.
16 Chestnut Street,
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

  Posted by MCW Editor on 4/30/2014

Skerbeck Carnival adds Larson Fire Ball
Michigan bases Skerbeck Carnival announced the addition of a Larson Fireball for the 2014 season.  The show has been steadily adding equipment each year, including the Moser Twin Flip, which was purchased last year from West Coast Amusements.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 4/23/2014

Industry veteran Jeff Pugh passes
We are sad to announce the passing of industry veteran Jeff Pugh.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Pugh family and their friends.  Visitation will be held Monday April 14, 2014 from 1-4pm and a celebration of life ceremony at 6pm.  Services will be held at Victory Hill Church - 4000 Coonpath Rd. Carroll, Ohio 43112.  All donations to be made to his church that he loved in his memory.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 4/11/2014

Wade Shows adds fourth roller coaster

Wade Shows announced the purchase of its fourth major roller coaster, a Zamperla Crazy Mouse spinning coaster from an indoor theme park in Wisconsin Dells, WI. The coaster is in top notch condition, relatively new, and has spent its entire life in the indoor theme park. Wade Shows owner Frank Zaitshik said "We are very happy to add a fourth coaster to our lineup. We will be taking the coaster back to our winter quarters in Florida to rack it . Being a park model, it didn't have many lights so we will be adding a lighting package."  The show plans to debut the new piece this June at the Livonia Spree in Michigan, contingent on if the piece is ready in time. Other dates the new coaster is slated to appear at include the Delaware State Fair, New York State Fair, Oklahoma State Fair, Tulsa State Fair, North Carolina State Fair, and the South Florida Fair.

The show also announced the purchase of a Wisdom Landslide from Deggeller Attractions.

To view photos of the ride, click here.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 4/3/2014

TJ Schmidt Carnival adds equipment; new concessions for 2014
Standish Michigan based TJ Schmidt & Company expanded its ride offerings for 2014.  The company added a Eli Eagle 16 Wheel, purchased from Arnold Amusements; a Cliff Hanger, Mulligan "Sky Quest" Swings, and a Zipper, purchased from Jeff Brady's Playworld Amusements.  In turn, the show sold its Quasar, Sea Dragon, and Tip Top.  The show also welcomed the addition of a new concessionaire, Case Concessions, headed by Harold, Debbie, and Christine Case, who will be playing their route with food concessions and several games.  Posted by Matt Cook on 3/26/2014

Chicago area carnivals add new equipment for 2014

Chicago area carnivals have been busy this winter adding new rides and attractions to bolster their arsenal of attractions.  Among those purchases, Skinner Amusements purchased a new Cliff Hanger from Dartron.  The new Cliff Hanger will replace their existing Cliff Hanger, which has been sold to Richard Tinsley's Tinsley's Amusements.  Fantasy Amusements purchased a new Wacky Worm family roller coaster from CMD Enterprises / Fajume and a Frog Hopper from Rides 4-U.  The Frog Hopper, was on display at this year's Gibtown trade show.  Modern Midways took delivery of a new ARM Rockstar, a Motorcycle ride from Dalton, and also added a full LED lighting package from Denny's Electronics to their KMG Fire Ball.  The Rockstar will replace the 1001 Nachts that the show was using last year.


As reported earlier, three new KMG Freak Outs will debut in the Chicago area including one for Alpine Amusements, All Around Amusements, and Windy City Amusements.  All three, of which, have different paint schemes and lighting packages.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 3/24/2014

Classic Amusements purchases Carter Shows
Ontario based Classic Amusements, owned by Bruce Brock, has purchased the route and assets of Jerry O'Neill Carter Shows. The show will operated as one operation under the name of Carter Shows. The company owns and operates approximately 60 rides and attractions, primarily playing Ontario Canada through the months of April to October.  Posted by Matt Cook on 3/21/2014

Happy World to play Wisconsin & Illinois in 2014
Kevin Exum's Happy World Shows will be making a routing change for 2014 and will be playing a handful of events throughout Wisconsin and Illinois this summer. The show, based out of Cedar Park Texas, also plans to have a unit in the south covering its existing events.  Posted by Matt Cook on 3/21/2014

Rides 4-U Sells State Fair Slide to Super Bowl; Panama City Amusement Park

Super Bowl SlideLen Soled's Rides 4-U successfully negotiated a deal to produce a 8-lane, state fair fun slide for the Super Bowl in New York City this past February. The spectacular slide was built by SBF/Visa of Italy and was set up in Times Square as part of the NFL's "Super Bowl Boulevard" celebration, which was held during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The slide featured football themed lighting and decorations and was a perfect fit for the event. After the Super Bowl, Rides 4-U re-sold the ride to Pier Park, an amusement park, in Panama City, Florida.

CLICK HERE to view photos of the slide on "Super Bowl Boulevard".


  Posted by Matt Cook on 3/10/2014

Dallas Fair Park to end summer midway

The Texas State Fair announced Wednesday that they will officially be ending the Summer Midway at the Texas State Fair Park in Dallas. Introduced in 2013, the summer midway featured a handful of permanent attractions previously in place for the state fair in addition to rides from several independent vendors. Such portable rides included Mike Demas' KMG Inversion (Rock It), S&J Entertainment's Wind Storm Roller Coaster & Huss Flipper, Kyle Wisdom's Starship, Nick Pelino's Love Bug kiddy himalaya, Beetle Bobs, and Viper, among other vendors.

State Fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding says attendance numbers for the summer event were not what backers hoped. She didn't immediately release details on how many people attended the inaugural Summer Adventures in Fair Park.

Because of the summer midway, many vendors were absent from other fairs with independent midways such as the San Diego County Fair, Wisconsin State Fair, and Minnesota State Fair.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 2/19/2014

Wade Shows adds Majestic Charlie the Chopper

Wade Shows debuted their new Charlie the Chopper, a fresh kiddie ride at the 2014 South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach. The attraction was built by Majestic Manufacturing of Ohio and features four-four passenger helicopters that oscillate from side to side as the ride rotates and raises up the tower.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/31/2014

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