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IAFE Convention -- PART II
Snowstorm hits Vegas

12/18/2008

By Ron Weber, Editor

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The final day of the IAFE Convention and Trade Show was marked by a rare snowstorm that blanketed the city. Las Vegas is not used to snow and the airport is unequipped to deal with planes that need to be deiced. As a consequence, flights out of Las Vegas were canceled most of the day Wednesday, with the snow expected to continue into early Thursday morning. Many travelers returned to their hotels for an extra day in Sin City.

As reported yesterday, Ray Cammack Shows will not be returning to the California State Fair in 2009 due to scheduling conflicts. Sources close to the fair tell MCW that the contract has not been finalized yet but a letter of intent has been reached with Butler Amusements. We hope to receive full details from the fair and Butler Amusements when the contract is finalized.

RCS exercised their option to get out of the contract with the California State Fair according to Tony Fiori, Director of Marketing for the show. He said the Orange County Fair was moving to five weeks and the Los Angeles County Fair was also moving to 5 weeks beginning Labor Day weekend, conflicting with the California State Fair in Sacramento. The move may bring some reduction in expenses for RCS. "Economically, we cut 400+ miles out of our route and eliminated the difficult three day turnaround from Sacramento to LA County", said Fiori. He said the cost of the tight move was $150,000 to $175,000 because of the extra trucks, buses for transportation of employees and airplane flights for key managers.

To replace the hole in the schedule presented by the move, RCS announced that they had signed the Antelope Valley Fair. The fair runs 11 days and works well with the show,s new schedule.

Fiori said 2008 had ups and downs. The show started strongly early at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Pima County Fair. The Orange County Fair was a record year for the show. By late summer and fall however, several fairs were down including the California State Fair, the LA County Fair and the Arizona State Fair.

Looking ahead to 2009, Fiori said RCS was looking for ways to cut costs in a tight economy and planning promotions with an eye towards value for the family. "We want to make prices as cheap for our customers as we possibly can", he said. "We will have to do more with less, be value oriented and set a goal of getting our customers to come back more than once", he added.

The convention and trade show will return to its traditional dates after Thanksgiving in 2009 said Rick Frenette, IAFE chairman. The show is locked in for the next four years.

Frenette is the General Manager of the Utah State Fair and former manager of the Ohio State Fair. The Utah State Fair drew 321,000 people this year despite some chilly mid-week weather.

Frenette hails from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin which is also home to his favorite brand of beer; Leinenkugel. Frenette was able to convince the company to present a "Leinie,s Lodge" at the trade show where beer was available throughout the run.

Looking back on his term as chairman, Frenette said he was most proud of the efforts the IAFE has made to increase the educational opportunities available to its members. Frenette said the organization brought the information to the members by offering cyber seminars and Institute of Fair Management classes at state and regional fair meetings. The IAFE also bolstered its online library though its website and sent frequent e-newsletters to members.

Frenette noted their was a bit of a risk in bringing the educational offering to state and regional fair meetings because some said it might have a negative impact on a fair,s need to join IAFE. Frenette was confident that fair members would recognize and appreciate the expanded work of the IAFE and continue to support the organization through membership dues.

Another area of especial importance to Frenette is the strengthening of ties between the IAFE and its "sister organizations", the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, the International Festival and Event Association, National Independent Concessionaires Association and the International Association of Assembly Managers. These organizations now meet quarterly to try to coordinate efforts that will benefit all of their members. "This is positive for all of us because we are in it together", said Frenette. One example of this renewed cooperation is the spring seminar IAFE holds in conjunction with the NICA events, the Florida State Fair and the Gibsonton Showmen,s Club Trade Show in February.

The IAFE chairman for 2009 will be Max Mosner, manager of the Maryland State Fair.

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