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New England Fair Round-Up #1
A OF A, Gillette, Dreamland and Bowdoin
By Dan McGinnis
SARATOGA COUNTY FAIR RECORDS GREAT RUN
The 166th Saratoga County Fair set record attendance and near-record midway grosses during it's July 17th through 22nd run. With over 80,000 people gate attendance was the highest ever and ride revenue was up over 18% from last year and the second highest in 15 years.
Long time fair manager Dick Rowland has spearheaded improvements and new buildings on the grounds in recent years. In the future, they plan to continue with updates and grounds improvements to continue to bring their fair guests a first-class facility.
On the midway, Amusements Of America provided 39 rides managed by Dominic Vivona Sr. Vivona said they were "very pleased" with the date this year. Vivona cited difficulties getting drivers to transport his rides and equipment as the biggest problem for the year. Looking at the industry at large, rising fuel prices, insurance costs and new ride pricing all contributed to make a sound bottom line harder and harder to attain he said. From Ballston Spa, Vivona was headed to the Ohio State Fair in Columbus and then the show was scheduled to play the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, TN for the first time.
The rides at Saratoga were: Balloons, Fun Slide, M.G.R., Rockin' Tug, Bumble Bee, Construction Zone, Dino, Elephants, Dizzy Dragons, Froghopper, Go Gator, Wet Gator, Heliport, Pumpkin Wheel, Wacky Worm, Train Station, Rainbow Rock, Rainforest, Speedway, 2nd Fun Slide, Cliffhanger, Fireball, Giant Wheel, Pharaoh's Fury, Ring of Fire, Rock n Roll, Scooter, Tornado, Gravitron, Ocean Trip, Flying Bobs, Banazi End Zone, Mouse Trap, Monkey Barrel, Cross Country Jeep, Surf City, M.T.V Funhouse & new Mardi Gras Funhouse.
New Tri-State Fair features Dreamland Amusements
The new Tri-State Fair run by the Knights Of Columbus at the former Green Mountain Race track in Pownal, Vermont reported attendance of 9,000 for a first time August 15th to the 19th run. Formerly held in Hoosick Falls, N.Y the fair offered a horse show, demolition derby, tractor pull, mud bog and fireworks.
Joe DiFusco & John Mills of the Knights said that the fair was an expensive venture and many lessons were learned this first year. At press time, the future remained unknown because final figures were not all in yet.
On the midway, Dreamland Amusements had 23 rides set up, including a new Wisdom Tornado delivered to the event. Bob DeStefano, the show's owner, was positive about the new venture, saying he had heard very positive responses from patrons. He hoped the fair would continue to operate and predicted a bright future for the event.
The show had come from the Ulster County Fair in New Paltz, NY where DeStefano reported business was good. The show's northern route began May 5th in Lake Grove, NY and ends for the year Oct. 21 in Ocala.
Here is the Pownal ride lineup: Century Wheel, Land Slide, Starship 2000, Orbiter, Merry-Go-Round, Zipper, new Dream Catcher, Jalopy Junction, Dizzy Dragon, Train Station, Tea Cups, Orbit Express, Planet Rock n Roll, Mini Jet, Fire Engines, Sizzler, Himalaya, Speedway, Slide , Scooter, Glass House, New Tornado, and Bungee Jump.
COBLESKILL "SUNSHINE FAIR" A WINNER FOR GILLETTE SHOWS
The Cobleskill "Sunshine Fair" in Cobleskill, New York August 7-12 reported record attendance this year. Blessed with near perfect weather and strong entertainment and exhibit offerings, the fair had an outstanding year.
MCW visited the fair on closing Sunday August 12th and the midway was crowded. Gillette Shows provided the midway with 25 rides. All equipment, rides, games and food looked to be in excellent condition and displayed the work that was done in winterquarters this year.
The Gillette organization is headed by Betty Gillette, assisted by her sons, Jerry and Jules. Jerry and Jules supervise the setting up and moving of the show each week. The show has a large winter quarters in Pittsfield, MA. The rides are repaired and painted through the winter months in Pittsfield, which also serves as the show's headquarters.
In addition to the 25-ride midway, another 15 rides were still in winterquarters, allowing the show to change rides for dates as needed. During the spring, when mostly still dates are played, the show carries 12-14 rides. In fairs and larger events the show can field 40+ rides from their inventory.
Gillette Shows owns a popcorn trailer and fried dough stand as well as a number of game concessions. Big City concessions has the Grab and grinders stand. Al Derise & Joann Navarro manage this concession and reported very steady business. Bryan & Kay Fairlee are also on the show with a French Fry stand.
From Cobleskill, NY the show was moving to Cummington with a small 12-14 ride unity and then on to Spencer, Mass. Fair for their annual Labor Day event.
BOWDOIN AMUSEMENTS AT BLANDFORD FAIR
Nestled in the hills of Western Massachusetts is the small town of
Blandford. Their 140th annual Fair had beautiful weather and strong attendance for their annual August 31st through Labor Day run.
On the midway was Bowdoin Amusements based in Torrington, Connecticut. Started in 1995 it supplies tents, games, inflatables and amusement rides to all of New England and New York.
The show carries twelve rides, 9 of which were at Blandford. Rides here were: Octopus, Round Up, Swing, Slide, Kid Tubs, Boat, Fire Engines, Playscape and funhouse. The show also carries a MGR, Eli Wheel and Dragon Train.
Catering to fairs, fundraisers, church bazaars and corporate events, Bowdoin Amusements is a nice, small New England Show.