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2008 Gibtown Extravaganza is Right Around the Corner
New vendors, rides and seminars for 08

1/18/2008

By Ron Weber

Photo courtesy of MCW

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"It's 5 O'clock Somewhere" is the theme of the 2008 IISF Trade Show and Extravaganza which will be held Feb.5 through 9 at the club's grounds in Gibsonton, FL. The Trade Show and Extravaganza is the major event of the season for ride manufacturers, vendors concessionaires and carnival owners to look at new products, talk with each other, learn of important topics affecting the industry and prepare for the coming season. Deals are struck, stories are told and above all, a good time is had by all.

The show will run from Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $50 without any club affiliations, $25 for those with OABA, NICA or showmen's association memberships or free of charge for IISF club members. Thursday, February 7th will feature free admission for NICA, OABA and showmen's association members.

Trade show hours wiPhoto By MCWll change slightly this year, running from 10am to 5pm each day. Steve Ianni, 2nd VP of the IISF said the move was made "at the request of some of the vendors. Closing an hour earlier gives them a little more time to get back to the hotel and change before they go to one of the parties or out to dinner with clients".

New Exhibitors, Positive Changes

Festive Waterloo CanvasAlthough the final count was not available at press time, all indications point to vendors being up 10 - 15% from last year. The club has already exceeded 2007's numbers. Some vendors have purchased more space. Waterloo Tent and Tarp has additional space where they will be hosting a "garage sale" of surplus equipment during the event. "We are going to have plenty of bargains, left-overs, one-of-a-kinds, all priced to sell", said Joe Burum, Owner and CEO. Bones Frames and Pictures will also be taking additional space for a similar promotion.

Marathon Homes is another vendor taking significantly more space this year. The trailer and bunkhouse manufacturer went from a 40x40 foot space to a 90 x 60 foot space this year. "Last year, we had 3 units there and this year we will have 5 units", said Ronald Berg, president of the company. "We have two large living quarters we sold to carnival owners, one 50' and one 46', two 50' bunkhouse trailers, one with a slideout and a 32' trailer', he added.

Many new vendors will also be coming to the trade show for the first time. Some examples are Kid Stream with their virtual riding car, Paragon International with concession equipment, Poly John with handwashing stations, Safe-Strap, makers of ride restraints, Oval Frame Craft with laminated plaques and wall hangings, East West Wholesale and their line of LED lights and novelties and Inflatable Deals, manufacturers of inflatable food stands and concessions.

KMG Swing ItRide companies will have plenty of attractions on hand for the trade show. Fabbri will have a new Vortex ride company spokesman Jeff Miller said is sold to Power's Great American Midways. The ride will feature the 1st FUN LED. light package which Miller promises will be a dazzling display. Bertazzon will have a Swing Carousel on hand. KMG/BV will have a Swing-It coming from Holland. The manufacturer says the ride takes two persons 2 hours to set up. It has two gondolas with a capacity of 8 each. Lucy Murphy of Zamperla said the company will be bringing a Samba Balloon. Murphy said Zamperla 'will be re-introducing some of their money-making classic rides at roll back prices this year'.

Numerous improvements have been made to the show in 2008. Chief among these is the new layout for the trade show building. 'We had some traffic issues in the 100 row', said Ianni, 'we actually cut a hole in the wall so the we could get a better flow'. The show has also added new wireless internet capabilities so all exhibitors and attendees could have easy access to the internet.

Educational Seminars & Events

One of the big surprises from the 2007 show was the positive responses received for the educational seminars held throughout the show. In booking slots for 2008 the club ran out of openings and there have been many inquiries about the seminars. "People are very interested in learning about the issues we face and solutions that can be offered", said Ianni.

The scheduled seminars and workshops are:

Tuesday, February 5th
12:30 - 1:30 pm "General Liability and Vehicle Liability', presented by PLH Consulting and sponsored by T.H.E. Insurance Company.

1:30 - 2:30 'Operational Training and Documentation" will be offered by Ed LaSalle of PLH Consulting.

Wednesday, February 6th.

11:00 am - 1pm "Performing Employee Background Checks" offered by Bill Peeler of the Peeler Group

1 - 2 pm "Amusement Risk Management", presented by Jerry Smithson

2 - 3 pm "Today's Trends In Games", presented by Jack Cook, Marc Janas, Jon Chestnut, Joe Burum and sponsored by Bob's Space Racers

3 - 4pm "How To Prevent and Reduce Employee Accidents", presented by PLH
Consulting and sponsored by T.H.E. Insurance Company

Friday, February 8th

2 - 3:30 pm "Beverage Repair", presented by Tom Hodson of the Tom Hodson Company

3:30 - 4:30 "Fairs and Risk Management - A New Direction For Our Industry', presented by Wayne McCrary (Big E), Jim Sinclair (Minnesota State Fair) and Jimmy Drew (Drew Expositions) Sponsored by Bob's Space Racers.

Saturday, February 9th

1:30 - 3:30 Industrial Truck/Forklift Training, presented by PLH Consulting (limited to 35 participants Cost -- $35.

** All seminars are held in the Carousel Entertainment Pavilion**

On Friday morning, February 8th, from 11 am - 1:30 pm, the annual World Wide Ladies Past President's "Fry" will be held. Each year, a past president of one of the showmen's associations is "fried" in front of a large audience. The guest of honor is always a secret until the last moment, making this one of the most popular events of the trade show.

Karen Arnold, president of the IISF in 2008 will have her banquet on Thursday night, February 7th at 6pm in the Carousel Pavilion. This is the first time the banquet will be held in the pavilion. In keeping with the theme "It's 5 O'clock Somewhere", dress for the event will be casual. The Land Sharks, who have opened for Jimmy Buffett will provide the musical entertainment. Cocktails kick off the event at 6pm with dinner to follow at 7pm. Tickets are $50 per person and available through the main office or by calling the showmen's club.

More Than A Trade Show

The IISF does much more than host the trade show. Charitable work, clubs, and social interaction are other components of the club's function. Several fundraising activities are held to support charities throughout the year.

Thursday night, February 7th the drawing will be held for the annual charity drive. Raffle tickets are $100 each and the prize is $60,000. Tickets are sold all year long and only 1,000 tickets are available. Approximately $30,000 is raised for charity.

The ladies' bowling league will be selling $50 tickets for their scholarship raffle. Only 350 tickets are sold and the winner receives a new Gator.

The club will also be raffling a Chevy Duramax Crew Cab Dually. Tickets are also $100 and the drawing is held on Saturday, February 9th. The winner can choose between the truck and $30,000 in cash. Proceeds from the raffle benefit the museum.

The museum has seen a rebirth lately as the University Of South Florida has once again begun working with the club on cataloguing the artifacts for the museum. The University has a curator's program where the students learn to restore photographs, documents and museum pieces. They have a high resolution camera to photograph old pictures and preserve the images.

The club brought in a 60 x 14 office trailer for the students to work in. Cataloguing and restoration work is a very important part of operating a museum and USF will be providing an invaluable service to the club.

The museum also received a new exhibit from Reithoffer Shows. In honor of owner Pat Reithoffer, Jr. who passed away in 2007, the company restored an early 1900's Packard show truck which will be on display at the museum.

The club is currently seeking financing to get the museum moving forward again. With the help of the University of South Florida and generous donations from showmen, that goal gets closer each day.

The officers and directors who work tirelessly to put the trade show together are Karen Arnold, President, Dee Dee Starkey, Vice President, Steve Ianni, 2nd Vice-President and incoming President of the Miami Showmen's Club, John McGinley, 3rd Vice-President and the new incoming Vice-President will be Beau Pugh.

For the first time this year, the club will have a float in the Gasparilla Parade, January 26th in Tampa. The parade has a long line of applicants to participate in the parade and selection for the parade is a significant accomplishment. The float will be decorated with plenty midway paraphernalia including a moving Ferris wheel. The club hopes to use the opportunity to promote the carnival industry and the museum to the millions of parade spectators.

****Look for more Trade Show articles in the weeks ahead******


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