The Southwest Exposition and Livestock Show, held in Fort Worth, Texas, January 11 to February 3, reported an approximate 3% increase over 2007 with over 899,000 attending. Talley Amusements was on the midway for the sixth straight year and also reported gains over 2007.
Fair spokesman Matt Brockman said the event went "very well". He cited good weather, a good economy and exciting attractions as the factors for the increase.
General admission for the stock show was $8 for adults, $4 for children 6 to 16 and free for kids 5 and under. Rodeo Tickets sold for $16 and $22 each.
The 2008 Stock Show had an added emphasis on the Hispanic audience. Both in media buys and performances, the show expanded their offers to the Hispanic market.
Univision and Coors Light presented the "Best Of Mexico Celebration
". The event brought mariachi bands and Charros, traditional Mexican horsemen to the show. "Some of Texas, best charros, mariachis and dancers are located right here in the Fort Worth area", said Bradford S. Barnes, Stock Shows executive vice president and general manager.
Thrilling the crowds with their daring displays of skills, charros led by Manuel Oropeza, Jr. and Las Asociación Charros de Fort Worth, performed acts including the Pass of Death, requiring a rider to leap from his mount to an unbridled galloping horse, and a trick roping act featuring five ropers performing simultaneously.
Other entertaining and educational venues for general admission visitors included the PlainsCapital Bank Petting Zoo, Planet Agriculture presented by TXU Energy, the Milking Parlor and FFA Children,s Barnyard. Also, over 22,000 horses, cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock were exhibited and shown during the course of the 24-day show.
Talley Amusements brought 48 rides to the midway including their new Barbieri "Wave Swinger" which debuted at the event. The show is racking the ride on one trailer and a 28, pup trailer. The scenery is trimmed with gold leaf and the extra space will allow special handling of the scenery said Mary Talley owner of the company along with her husband Tom.
Other major rides on the midway include the Fastrax slide which Talley says is the largest in the US. The ride has eight lanes, is 200, long and stands 90, tall. Another spectacular ride at the event is the company,s Fabbri Mega Drop.
There were a handful of independents booked in including Bill Hensley with his Storm, Dewayne Steck with a new kiddie ride and McDaniels with a funhouse.
Talley said their season runs from Jan. 11 through the week before Thanksgiving. Some of the larger rides, including the slide and Mega Drop play an independent route in the summer at the Del Mar Fair and the Ventura County Fair in California. The company also traditionally books 3 to 6 rides at the Texas State Fair in October. There Wave Swinger will be the newest addition to the event said Talley.
Also purchased for 2008 were several refurbished food trailers and a new state of the art generator from Showmen,s Supply. The fuel-efficient model promises to save fuel and expenses over the course of the season.
The Talley route also has some new spots for 2007-2008. The company booked a few new festivals in Texas as well as the North Texas State Fair in Denton.
Talley said she had quite a scare earlier in the year when she submitted her H2B visa paperwork only to find that the cap for the first half of the season had already been reached.
As one of the first shows to open for the season she used workers from other shows who still had time left on their visas. Good news came when she learned she made it under the cap for the 2nd half and she now has approximately 30 workers under the visa program.
"Its hard to hire people is the U.S., said Talley. "One, it is hard to find people to travel and two we have a strict drug policy that makes it hard to keep some of them."
Talley said the foreign workers helped her with setup in Fort Worth and the Stock Show was blessed with good weather this year. "It wasn,t our best year here, but it was definitely better than last year", she said.
Key personnel for the stock show include Bradford S. Barnes, executive vice president - general manager, Pam Wright - special events manager, Bruce McCarty - horse show manager, Shanna Weaver - publicity manager and Stefan Marchman - livestock show manager.
Dates for the 2009 Stock Show are January 16 - February 8, 2009.