|Exclusive News and Interviews
IAFE Trade Show -- Day 1
By Ron Weber
Las Vegas -- The annual IAFE Trade Show and Convention got under way in full force today in Las Vegas. Held at the Paris hotel and convention center, the convention is an opportunity for fair and event managers to learn more about their industry and visit vendors, clients and old friends.
MCW visited with many people at the show and we plan to provide daily reports through Thursday on news and information from the convention. We have copies of the just-released Top 50 fair and Top 50 carnival list which we will publish on the website in the next couple of days.
Alan Nogiec, long time fair manager of the Isle Of Wight County Fair in Virginia and a parks and recreation professional for 35 years formed ASN Promotions, LLC and was exhibiting at the trade show. Nogiec said after his retirement from the Isle Of Wight County government he wanted to remain in the business and put to use the knowledge he had gained from starting the Isle Of Wight County Fair from scratch 13 years ago. He said beginning his agency was "a natural" for him. As past President of the Virginia Fair Association and the Virginia Festival and Event Association, he has made many contacts within the industry.
One of the most unique aspects of ASN Promotions is their ability to book entertainment and fireworks shows for events. Nogiec reasoned that many of the same people buy entertainment and fireworks for their events so combining the two would be an excellent way to broaden the scope of his business and fill a needed niche. Nogiec is an experienced fireworks shooter himself and forged a relationship with Pyrotechnico to bring their shows to more fairgrounds and event facilities. ASN will be customizing fireworks displays for almost any fair footprint.
Nogiec had his first booking this past October at the Vance County Regional Fair in Henderson, NC. The fair is owned by Amusements Of America and managed by Kendra Novey, a long time friend of Nogiec's. The fair booked the Frisco elephant show and tiger show as well as Wild West Follies. "Focusing on Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Pennsylvania", Nogiec said he was looking forward to his second career booking entertainment acts and fireworks for fairs through his ASN Promotions, LLC.
Speaking of entertainers, few are as busy as the Coronas family. Serge Coronas and his company, Circus Hollywood provide entertainment for many fairs and events throughout North America.
Coronas said the season has been great. "We didn't play a bad spot anywhere", he added. Coronas' season takes him to the New York State Fair, the State Fair of Louisiana, the Florida State Fair, the Orange County Fair in NY and the Brookhaven and Nassau Coliseum Fairs on Long Island. In between the fairs, the circus plays many shrine dates including the Kansas City Shrine Circus for over 25 years and the Tampa Shrine Circus.
In addition to the circus, which can be provided in a large tent or in an open air setting, Coronas has a petting zoo with two giraffes, pig races run by his son Sergie, who also rides the motorcycle in the Globe of Death and a horse show presented by his wife Stevie. Stevie has added Andalusia horses to her Friesans this year for the show.
New for 2008, Coronas will be introducing a new pig race that features an obstacle course. The pigs will have to jump hoops and perform other tasks, giving the act a unique new twist. Coronas has also purchased several new tractors and new canvas for some of his tents. He also said a major new date was about to be signed but it was one he couldn't announce yet.
In other fair related news, NICA held a Director Advisory luncheon on Monday with managers from the Miami-Dade County Fair, WV State Fair, California State Fair, Indiana State Fair and Champlain Valley Expo. in attendance. Some of the issues discussed included the use of 20 oz. bottles at the fairs which NICA Director Russ Harrison said "takes away the profit margin for concessionaires" and trans-fat cooking oils. The luncheon is an informal setting to discuss issues facing fairs and concessionaires and to float ideas on how they may be amicably resolved.
Harrison will be conducting a session on Tuesday called "Controlling Costs Through Cooperative Conservation" at the convention. The session will focus on how concessionaires can help fairs save money through methods for reducing electrical usage, separating trash and recycling and using used cooking oil as a profit center.
Meri Smith of the Arkansas State Fair said she was recently promoted to the position of Assistant General Manager of the fair. Smith has been at the event for two fairs where she joined general manager Ralph Shoptaw's staff. Shoptaw and Smith worked together previously at the Four States Fair in Texarkana, AR. The Arkansas State Fair once again made the MCW list of the Top 50 fairs in North America.
Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows has a suite at the Wynn hotel where he entertains fairs and guests. Zaitshik said the 2007 season was "good, considering the price of fuel". He added a new Mulligan Wheel, Sky Ride for the South Florida Fair and Starship in 2007.
Zaitshik announced the purchase of a new 8-lane Super Slide from Wisdom for 2008. The slide has a large rider capacity and looks similar to the permanent models found at state fairs.
Zaitshik also had a big announcement on the staffing front. Pal Fontana, long time manager for Retihoffer Shows will be joining Wade Shows in 2008. Zaitshik said he is looking forward to having Fontana on staff and that his "long-term commitment and dedication at his former job speaks volumes about his abilities". Fontana worked with Wade briefly during the 2005 North Carolina State Fair and joins the company in the capacity of "Special Projects Manager".
Also in the Wade Shows suite were CFO and Zaitshik brother-in-law Mike Morrison, Melissa Zaitshik, Frank's wife, Neal Dorfman, Unit 1 food manager, who runs the hospitality suite and Mike Thomas who also claimed to hold the title of "Special Projects Manager".
Thomas asked that we mention the upcoming golf tournament to be held Dec. 11 at the Cheval Golf and Country Club near Tampa, FL. The event is sponsored by the greater Tampa Showmen's Ladies Auxiliary and is one of their annual fundraisers.
There will be a noon shotgun start. Golf and dinner are $75 or you can just attend the dinner for $25. The tournament and dinner are open to everyone and interested parties can contact the Greater Tampa Showmen's Club or Karen Thomas at (813) 334-3855.
Jimmy Drew of James H. Drew Expositions, commented on an epidemic often discussed on MCW, the theft of wire from carnival lots. Drew said he has had to post a 24-hour guard at his winterquarters facility in Augusta . He recently caught two people attempting to steal wire.
Drew said the season was "about as good as last year". 2007 started "terrible" with rain and heat. One fair had a heat index of 106 every day of the 9 day event. By September and October however, the heat had cooled off and the show experienced some record fair runs.
Mark Siefker of Showmen's Supply and his brother Scott were also visiting carnivals in their suites. Showmen's purchased Dial Lighting earlier in the year and they have spent the the ensuing time integrating the operations into the Showmen's facility in Indiana.
Showmen's has a separate company that builds gensets, distribution equipment and specialty lighting. Fuel prices have really forced show owners to take a look at cost saving measures this year and that has sparked an interest in more fuel efficient generators and LED lighting systems which, after an initial investment, can save shows tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.
Siefker said the company had sold generators to Tom Talley and J.D. Green and were working on several other proposals for carnival companies for new generators and distribution equipment.
More from the Trade Show on Tuesday...