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By Ron Weber, Editor

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Gibsonton, FL - The International Independent Showmen's Association is busy at work preparing for the 2009 Trade Show and Extravaganza. The show will be a week later this year, February 10 - 14 due to the Super Bowl's visit to Tampa in 2009.

The club sees several benefits in the move. First, the event is after the conclusion of several fairs, including the South Florida Fair, so this will free up many people to visit the trade show. Second, the trade show will be the second week of the Florida State Fair which will give vendors, concessionaires and ride operators a chance to get settled in Tampa before coming to the trade show.

2009 posed several challenges for the IISF, chief among them a faltering economy. While the number of vendors will remain the same several are "cutting back on space because of the economy", said incoming IISA President Steve Ianni.

Some vendors such as Wisdom Industries will be bringing new rides and attractions. Wisdom will be debuting their new Windsurfer ride along with Wade Show's new Drag Strip Mega Slide. The ride which Frank Zaitshik, owner of Wade Show calls "breathtaking", promises to be one of the highlights of the show.

Many other vendors are making their debut at the show this year. One such vendor is Fiesta Concessions of California. Gary Lauber, sales representative for the company said "its our first time displaying at the show. We sell plush, guitars and other prizes for games". Lauber said his company has thought about coming to the show over the years but being based on the West Coast, they had held off until this year. Citing the show as an opportunity to increase their national presence, Fiesta Concessions will have many products on display this year.

Another venture for Lauber is his Glo Cone International, sellers of light-up cotton candy sticks. This unique item is a plastic cone with L.E.D. lights. "It looks like the candy is glowing", said Lauber. Once finished, the kids can keep the piece as a light-up toy.

Other new vendors this year include Wizard Werks, Erskine and Sons, Penn Signs, Summa, Inc., Tie-A-Balloon, Virginia Toys, Paragon International, Bad Dog Tools and Jersey Shore Imports.

MCW will be interviewing and previewing many of the rides and concession vendors at the show in the coming days.

The golf tournament will kick off the festivities on Monday with President Dee Dee Starkey and her team ready for opening by Tuesday morning. The daily hours for the trade show are 10 am - 5pm.

Visitors to the trade show will notice many improvements to the IISA grounds. The Carousel Pavilion has a new bathroom and the club has performed maintenance to the septic fields. Rows 100 - 200 have been redesigned and Kenny Smith of Rocken Graphics wrapped the grab joint in the rear of the building.

The club is busy in the off-season renting the grounds nearly every weekend from October through March for activities such as the Bike Fest and holding events like their charity circus which was a huge success this year.

Beau Pugh, Jimmy Otterbacher and Jeffrey Richards have been hard at work on the club's float for the Gasparilla parades. The club participated in the kid's day parade on Jan. 24th and they will also ride in the Gasparilla Day Parade on February 7th.

Reflecting on all the activities during trade show week Steve Ianni said the show is "not only a place to look at and buy equipment, there are lots of deals to be made and plenty of camaraderie among industry members". "It's the big social event of the year", he added.

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