At the 2017 Ohio Fair Manager's Convention, Bates Amusements Inc, an Ohio based carnival company, announced that the 2017 season will be their last. After 52 years in the industry, Bates Amusements Inc. looks forward to what the future holds for the Bates family and is looking to take on their last tour with great enthusiasm, making it their "best season ever!"
Bates Amusements Inc had humble beginnings. In the 1950s, Geary and Eric Bates lived in the same neighborhood as the Gambill family who operated a pony farm in Wintersville, Ohio. Geary and Eric would help the Gambills operate the pony rings that were set up at local events. After some time, part of the Gambill farm was sold and turned into a sub-division which led to the purchase of the first mec
hanical rides and Gambill Amusement Company was born.
In 1965, Geary and Eric Bates purchased their first ride, a Rock-O-Plane, and took over Gambill Amusement Company in 1975 after Mr. Gambill retired. Once the company's name was changed to Bates Brothers Amusement Co., Geary and Eric continued to accumulate rides and eventually acquired 10 acres of land in Wintersville, Ohio.
The land in Wintersville became the Bates Brothers Amusement Co. winter maintenance facility which Eric and Geary used to store and maintain their rapidly growing fleet of equipment. Bates Brothers Amusement Co. was able to form two units by 1981 due to increasing equipment and demand; and, by 1993, Eric and Geary Bates split the company into Bates Amusement Inc, (run by Geary Bates), and Bates Brothers Amusement Co., (run by Eric Bates).
The two companies operate separately but are together every Labor Day Weekend at the Canfield Fair in Ohio.
Currently, Bates Amusement Inc. owns about 40 rides, additional pieces such as funhouses and concessions, 45 trucks, portable offices, generators, and living quarters for employees.
In the winter, Bates Amusement Inc. has all their equipment serviced by their maintenance team.
For their final season, Drew's unit of Bates Amusement Inc. will play eight events as a single unit: East Palestine (May 25-28), Newark Strawberry Fest (June 2-4), Mayfield St. Francis (June 8-11), Creekside Blues & Jazz in Gahanna (June 16-18), St. Ambrose in Brunswick (June 22-25), Fireman's Fest in Johnstown (June 28-July 1), Firemen's Fest in Orrville (July 4-8), Franklin County Fair (July 15-22).
Al's unit of Bates Amusements Inc. will play ten events as a single unit: Heath (May 16-21), St. Barabara's in Massillon (May 25-29), St. Mary Magdalene in Willowick (June 1-4), St. Gabriels in Mentor (June 8-11), St. Joseph in Avon Lake (June 15-18), Middleburg Heights (June 22-24), Jackson Township (June 28-July 1), Marion County Fair (July 3-8), Olde Canal Days in Canal Fulton (July 13-15), and New Lexington in Perry County (July 17-22).
Both units of Bates Amusements Inc. will play 10 spots together in 2017: Summit County Fair in Akron (July 25-30), Medina County Fair in Medina (July 31-August 6), Richland County Fair in Mansfield (August 7-12), Muskingum County Fair in Zanesville (August 13-19), Portage County Fair in Randolph (August 22-27), Mahoning County Fair in Canfield (August 30-September 4), Wayne County Fair in Wooster (September 9-14), Delaware County Fair in Delaware (September 16-23), Coshocton County Fair in Coshocton (September 29-October 5), and Fairfield County Fair in Lancaster (October 8-14).
The Bates family's greatest concern is making sure that their loyal fair and festival partners are able to be successful after Bates Amusement Inc.'s closing.
The staff of Bates Amusement Inc has reassured the directors of their fair and festival clients that there is a pathway to securing rides for their events from Bates Brothers Amusement Company.
Bates Amusement, Inc gave their subcontracted concessionaires a full season long warning about their final season so that they could readjust their schedules and fill in any gaps the closing may cause after the 2017 route ends in October.
Employees of Bates Amusement Inc were told of the closing a few days ahead of the Ohio Fair Managers Convention announcement and had the option to retire or continue in the amusement industry after the 2017 season.
Despite 2017 being their final season, Bates Amusement Inc. is currently continuing winter maintenance on their equipment; two of their big projects include a complete repainting of the Super Shot, and a vinyl and artwork upgrade on the Musik Express.
While many in the amusement industry are sad to hear of Bates Amusement Inc's closing, the Bates family says that positive response to the announcement of their final season has been "overwhelming". When asked about the reasoning behind the closure, the Bates family had this to say about their time in the amusement industry; "The answer will remain the same...because it is time. Our family was fortunate enough to catch the brass ring many years ago. It has been the ride of our lives and we will be forever grateful. We would like to thank everyone who has traveled or worked with us at anytime throughout the years and for the continued invaluable friendships that we have formed. We wish all our fairs, events, concessionaires, and friends in the outdoor amusement industry future health, happiness, and success. The greatest adventure is what lies ahead."