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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.

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

Wade Shows signs Buc Days in Corpus Christi
Buc Days of Corpus Christi, Texas announced the signing of Wade Shows to be their new carnival for the 2017 event.  In order to accommodate Wade Shows, Buc Days shifted its calendar one week into May.  The 2017 event will run May 4-14.

"Buc Days is pleased to partner with Wade Shows. After researching and touring  carnival operators across the nation, we have found a premier operator that will bring Corpus Christi some of the largest, most exciting rides in the industry with customer service presentation second to none" says Johnny Philipello, President and CEO of the Buccaneer Commission.  

"We are incredibly honored to be chosen to provide the midway for such an outstanding event", said Frank Zaitshik, President of Wade Shows.  "We will be bringing  Buc Days amazing new spectacular rides, many never before seen at the event, along with some great family and kiddie rides, all presented in an amusement park-like setting.", he added.

Wade is expected to bring a full set of midway amenities such as benches, landscaping, guest relations areas, cell phone charging stations, and much more to the event.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 2/6/2017

Ed Murphy of Modern Motors Passes
Ed Murphy of Belleville, Illinois based Modern Motors passed away on January 27, 2017.  Ed was known throughout the industry as a truck salesman to the carnival industry for years and was always able to lend a helping hand to his friends and customers.  Although Modern Motors went of of business 15 years ago, Ed still worked selling new and used trucks on a smaller scale.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Murphy family and their friends.  

According to the Showmen's League of America, Andy Schoendienst spoke with Ed's son, Michael, who wanted everyone to know the funeral arrangements are still being worked on but consideration for the showfolks is right up there with the family.  And, in lieu of flowers or any other form of tribute, Ed wanted all memorials to take the form of donations to:

Showman's League of America, St. Louis Chapter, Scholarship Fund.
c/o Phil Tomber 2311 Chestnut st. St Louis MO 63103

Funeral arrangements will be posted as soon as they are announced.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/27/2017

Industry Veteran Bobby Leonard Passes
Carnival industry veteran Bobby Leonard passed away on January 27, 2017.  Bobby was a life-long concessionaire and was a supporter of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Leonard family.

Service will be held on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton from 12 noon until 3pm.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the SRV Scholarship Committee, P.O. Box 3359
Riverview, FL 33568.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/27/2017

New York State Fair adds Sky Ride, Extra Day for 2017
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday the second phase of the states revitalization of The Great New York State Fair Fairgrounds.  The second phase upgrades include an Aerial Gondola for visitors traveling from the fairgrounds to Lakeview Amphitheater in 2018; a new Aerial Sky Ride on the midway with midway partner Wade Shows  in 2017, a new on-ramp to I-690 West and Orange Lot improvements; and construction of a new multi-use, 80,000 square-foot hybrid building and expo center.  The approved upgrades are valued at over $70 million.

In addition to new construction, the fair announced it will be expanding its operating schedule to 13 days.  The fair will open on Wednesday where as the fair opened on Thursday in previous years.  On the non-fair calendar, four additional major events will be hosted at the state fairgrounds in 2017.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/23/2017

Elliotts Amusements optimistic about 2017 season
Elliott's Amusements had a successful weekend at the 132rd Annual Convention of the Michigan Association of Fairs & Exhibitions (MAFE) at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Owners Debbie and Tracy Elliott visited with fair boards and committees throughout the weekend at their trade show booth.  They are optimistic about the 2017 season which includes a strong route of Michigan county fairs during the months of July and August.   Debbie reported three major purchases in 2016 were highly successful including an ARM Ali Baba, a Sellner Bear Affair, and a Watkins Tempest.  Although no major ride purchases are planned for this year, the show will be bringing out a refurbished Chester Built elephant ear concession that looks like new, and last fall Tracy completed a new state of the art winter quarters and shop building in Dansville, Michigan.   Operations managers Nick and Kasey Elliott as well as patriarch Jim Elliott also attended the convention. The show opens the 2017 season on April 6 in the mid-Michigan area.

  Posted by Michael Prelesnik on 1/20/2017

Marko Popovich Jr. Passes
It is with great sadness to announce the passing of veteran showman, Marko Popovich, Jr. on January 16, 2017.  Visitation will be held at the National Cremation & Burial Society located at 308 E. College Ave in Ruskin, Florida on Thursday, January 19 from 12 noon until 1pm.  Masonic services will begin at 1pm.  Following the service, the family invites everyone to the IISA in Gibsonton for a celebration of life.  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 1/18/2017

Ivan Arnold, Jim Elliott, and Joe Skerbeck inducted into the Michigan Association of Fairs and Events Hall of Fame
Ivan Arnold of Arnold Amusements, James Elliott of Elliott's Amusements, and Joe Skerbeck of Skerbeck Entertainment Group were inducted into the Michigan Association of Fairs and Events Hall of Fame on Friday.  

For over seven decades, Ivan has enjoyed a fascination with the carnival industry.  In 1980, Ivan started Arnold Amusements and along with his wife Agnes and family, have grown the company to entertain millions of visitors each year throughout the states of Michigan and Florida.  Ivan is also an active member of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton, Florida; helping coordinate club events and the annual trade show and extravaganza each February.

Joe Skerbeck is a 5th generation carnival owner and has been a member of MAFE for over 50 years.  During that span, he has conducted numerous workshops at the convention and has served as an associate board member.  Joe has also been active in the OABA, currently serving on their board.  Joe believes in following his family's tradition, "Quality is paramount to us.  If things aren't 100% right we won't do them."

James Elliott, AKA Jimmy the Pipe has been active in the Michigan Fair industry since the 1950's.  His love for the show started as a youth watching the animal trains being unloaded at the Ionia Free Fair and continues on.  Jimmy has worked with many individuals in our industry and has been involved with 90% of the fairs in Michigan during his career.  He is also very active with the IISA Carnival Museum in Gibtown.

Congratulations Ivan, James, and Joe on being inducted into the MAFE Hall of Fame!
  Posted by Matt Cook on 1/15/2017

Bates Amusements to cease operation after 2017 season
It was announced during the Ohio Fair Managers meetings on Thursday that Geary Bates' Bates Amusement Company would cease operation after its 2017 season.  It is rumored that Geary's brother, Eric, who owns Bates Brothers Amusements, would pick up some of the dates.  Please keep posted to for continued coverage.  Posted by MCW Editor on 1/6/2017

Richard Repp Passes
Richard "Dick" Repp 83, of Avon, IL passed away Monday December 19, 2016, 2:52 a.m. at OSF St. Frances Medical Center Peoria, IL.  He was born Saturday December 16, 1933 in Avon, IL the son of Cecil and Rose (Mulhatten) Repp.  He married Shirley A. (Vernoy) McIntire on July 18, 1959 in St. Augustine, IL, she preceded him on July 23, 2010. 

Those left to cherish his memory are his children Cathy (Dennis) Ruff of Avon, IL, Tim Repp of Avon, IL, Pat (Kris) Repp of Kirkwood, IL and Mike (Trish) Repp of Greenville, SC; 7 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren; and siblings Regina Wall and Ernie Repp.  He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, 1 grandson (Matthew), 3 brothers, and 1 sister. 

Dick was born and raised in Avon, IL.  He graduated Avon High School.  He served in the U.S. Army as a M.P.  He was involved in the Integration of the Little Rock 9.  He worked at Gale Products for approximately 30 years.  He also worked at Western Illinois University at the Physical Plant for approximately 10 years.  He was an avid Notre Dame fan.  Dick will be remembered for his fun loving and ornery personality.

Funeral service will be Friday December 23, 2016, 11:00 a.m. at the Avon Federated Church Avon, IL.  Visitation will be Thursday evening December 22, 2016, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Avon Federated Church Avon, IL.  Burial will be in the Avon Cemetery Avon, IL.  Memorials may be made to the Avon-Abingdon Sports Boosters, the Relay for Life Angels in Action, Avon Fire Dept. and/or the Avon Federated Church.  Please sign the online guestbook at
  Posted by Obiturary on 12/20/2016

Buy one Carnival Calendar, SAVE 40% on a second!
Buy one, save 40% on a second 2017 Carnival Calendar!  This offer is available for a limited time, and only a small number of calendars remain in inventory!   Enter code SAVE40 at checkout to take advantage of this offer!  2017 Calendars can be ordered by click here.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 12/19/2016

Wayne "Jake" Inners passes
Wayne E. "Jake" Inners, CEO of Majestic Midways, passed away on December 10, 2016.  

"I am proud to say he created a culture within our family and company.  Giving to those who couldn't give back, which is the very heart of Christ.  While we grieve, we also rejoice and are thankful to be able to carry on his legacy.  My father truly led a life well lived, and he will be greatly missed and our work will continue to honor him", said Scott Inners.

A celebration of life is planned for December 19, 2016 at 10am at Grace Fellowship in York, PA.  Anyone who is planning on attending is encouraged to RSVP by calling 717-292-2556 Monday through Thursday 9am-5pm or leave a message at any time.

Grace Fellowship
1405 Seven Valleys Rd.
York, PA 17404
  Posted by Matt Cook on 12/12/2016

John Peco Named the Canadian National Exhibition Association's Chief Officer, Business Development & Innovation
Toronto, Ontario ... John Peco has been appointed the Canadian National Exhibition Association's Chief Officer, Innovation and Business Development, the CNEA announced today.

"This is a new position, which has been created to fulfill the exciting and evolving needs of our 138 year-old organization." stated Virginia Ludy, the CEO of the Association. "Since we are now an independent entity, we are seeking to expand our business model beyond our 18-day fair. John brings a solid business background, excellent entrepreneurial skills as well as "hands-on" experience in the fair industry to our Association," she elaborated. "We are very thrilled to have him on board to guide us through this transformative period in our history!"

Peco, who joins the CNEA on January 3, 2017, is currently 1st Vice President of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE). He comes to the CNE directly from the Markham Fair where he has served as General Manager since 2011. Previous to his time in the fair industry, he flourished as an entrepreneur and owner of several businesses in the corporate consulting and IT sectors.

  Posted by CNE Press Release on 11/16/2016

Wade Shows Midway receives 97% Approval Rating from New York State
New York State Governor Cuomo held a press conference announcing the results of phase one of a $50 million renovation to The New York State Fairgrounds. During the press conference, she announced that the revitalized Wade Shows Midway, in its new, larger home, scored the highest marks since the survey began in 2008, with 97 percent of respondents saying the Midway experience was very positive. When respondents were asked what improvements they noticed, the number one item mentioned was "more space or openness," at 44 percent, with 88 percent giving the "openness feature" a positive rating.

More information can be found on the Governor's official press release by clicking here.
  Posted by Press Release on 11/9/2016

John Owens passes
It is with great regret that we announce the passing of John Owens.  John spent much of his life working in the fair industry, most recently serving as the acting general manager of the Volusia County Fair in Florida.  Prior to that, he was the general manager of the Nevada State Fair and Anderson County Fair & Expo Center (SC).  John also worked for the OABA for several years, serving as the organization's Director Of Marketing and Membership Services.  John was the proud author of "Opening Night", a book he wrote about creating successful events within the fair and festival industry.  

A gathering of friends will be held on October 31 from 4-5pm with the service being held immediately following. 

Allen-Summerhill Funeral Home / Orange City
163 South Volusia Ave.
Orange City, FL, US, 32763

  Posted by Matt Cook on 10/25/2016

Gold Star Amusement's Richard Hanson passes
It is with great sadness to report the passing of Richard Hanson.  Richard was a lifelong friend of the Featherston family and served as a manager at Gold Star Amusements.  Funeral arrangements are as follows:

October 6, 2016 at 11am

Pellerin Funeral Home
211 Berard St. 
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

The Featherston family is grateful to Father John Vakulskas for rearranging his schedule to officiate the service.  

In honor of Richard's relationship with Jaylin Koerner, it is requested that in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation (  

For those who knew Richard up north, the Featherston family is planning to have a Memorial during the Midwest Showmen's Association/MN Federation of County Fairs Convention in Bloomington, MN on January 14, 2017. Time and place TBA.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/29/2016

Top 15 Grossing Games at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair
The total game gross at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair set a record at over $3,259,566.99 in gross receipts, an increase of $377,792.27 (13%) over 2015.  Like rides, all games on the Mighty Midway operate on tickets and no cash or coin is accepted.  The top 15 grossing games include:

1. Bottle Up - Candice P. Anderson
2. Goblets - Candice P. Anderson
3. Goblets - Candice P. Anderson
4. Whopper Water Race - Cassata Concessions 
5. Fish-A-Rama - Oren Concessions LLC 
6. Shoot Out The Star - Midwest Concessions, Inc. 
7. Rising Waters Water Race - Cassata Concessions 
8. Long Range Basketball - Oren Concessions LLC 
9. Long Range Basketball - Oren Concessions LLC 
10. Milk Cans - Potopas Concessions, Inc. 
11. Top Glo Water Race - Cassata Concessions 
12. Ring-A-Bottle - JBS Concessions 
13. Ring-A-Bottle - Trejo Concessions 
14. Big Mouth - Potopas Concessions, Inc.
15. Balloon Pop Water Race - Thornberry Concessions 
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/21/2016

Top 15 Rides at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair
The Minnesota State Fair achieved a record ride gross during its 2016 run with over $4,084,481.41 in ride receipts, an increase of $136,548.30 (3.5%) over 2015.

The top 15 grossing attractions on the Mighty Midway and Kidway include:

1. Crazy Mouse Spinning Roller Coaster - S.J. Entertainment 
2. Sky Flyer - Reithoffer Equipment Co., Inc. 
3. Starship 3000 - Laser Fair, Inc. 
4. New York New York Fun House - Fair Ride Entertainment LLC 
5. Hurricane - Showtime Rides, Inc. 
6. Super Nova Roller Coaster - KB Concessions LLC 
7. Gondola Wheel - Playworld Unlimited 
8. Puppy Express - Prime Pacific Ent. LLC 
9. Rock It - State Fair Services, Inc. 
10. Tilt-A-Whirl - Lauther Amusements 
11. Flipper - S.J. Entertainment 
12. Equinox - Laser Fair, Inc. 
13. Kite Flyer - Alamo Amusements, Inc.
14. Magic Maze - Wood Entertainment Company, Inc. 
15. Arabian Daze Fun House - Fun Attractions LLC 
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/21/2016

Labor Day Weekend State Fairs Set Record Attendance
Near perfect weather helped three state fairs break record attendance numbers over Labor Day Weekend.  The Nebraska State Fair broke its previous record set in 2015 with over 361,107 guests passing through the turnstiles (up 2.5% from 2015).  In New York, the newly-redesigned state fair midway saw attendance numbers reach 1,117,630, which broke the previous record of 1,011,248 set in 2001.  In Minnesota, the Minnesota State Fair shattered previous attendance records registering 1,943,719 guests through the gates.  The previous record was 1,824,830 set in 2014.  Both the Nebraska and New York State Fairs midways are provided by Wade Shows while the Minnesota State Fair operates an independent midway.  Attendance numbers from the DuQuoin State Fair in Illinois have not yet been reported.
  Posted by Matt Cook on 9/6/2016

S&S Amusements patriarch, Steve Swika Jr., passes
It is with great regrets to announce the passing of Steve Swika, Jr., owner of Pennsylvania based S&S Amusements.  Steve passed quietly in his sleep on August 19, 2016.  Steve is preceded in death by his wife, Jackie.  Arrangements have been made at Hedley W. Mason Funeral Home, 436 Main Street in Peckville, PA.  Friends may attend Tuesday, August 30, 2 to 5pm or 6 to 9 pm. Funeral services will also be held at Mason Funeral Home on Wednesday, August 31 at 11 am followed by entombment at St. Mary's Mausoleum, Montdale.
  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 8/22/2016

Industry Veteran Gene McQuater Passes
Industry veteran Gene McQuarter passed away at the age of 83.  Aside from his life-long accomplishments on the midway, Gene also served as the second Treasurer of the St. Louis Showmen's League and holds a lifetime membership card.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.  His funeral arrangements are as follows:

McDaniel Funeral Home
847 N. St. Louis Ave.
Tilden, IL. 62292

Visitation: Sunday August 21 from 4:00-8:00pm and Monday August 22 from 10:00-12:00pm.  Funeral to follow at nearby church.

  Posted by Matt Cook / Obiturary on 8/17/2016

Minnesota State Fair releases Mighty Midway and Kidway equipment lists
The Minnesota State Fair announced its lineup of rides and games for the 2016 Minnesota State Fair, taking place August 25 - September 5 in St. Paul.  Highlighting this years Mighty Midway is the return of S&J Entertainment's Huss Flipper, which took a three year absence from the fair after originally debuting in 2012.  Other returning attractions include the Super Nova and Crazy Mouse Roller Coasters, Magnum, Techno Power, New York New York fun house, Big Bamboo, Hurricane (KMG Fun Factory), Equinox (KMG Tango), Rock It (KMG Inversion), and the Stinger.  

New to the kidway is the Majestic Charlie Chopper, booked by Richard Tinsley and Kenny Bender. 

Both midways will feature a combined total of 61 rides and attractions.

Click here to view a complete list of rides and games booked at the 2016 MN State Fair.

  Posted by Matt Cook on 8/3/2016

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