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MODERN MIDWAYS TO PLAY NEW FESTIVAL IN SAVANNAH
Show stays busy during off season refurbishing equipment

4/8/2009

By Ron Weber

Photo courtesy of The Wizard

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Despite some permitting hardships in Florida, Robert Briggs of Modern Midways is very optimistic about the upcoming year. "At every spot we have played this year, the rides have been up a little and the food has been about even. The games have been hurting a little", he said. The show typically charges $25 - $30 for armbands throughout its run.

Modern Midways has been busy playing a full line up of church and festival dates in South Florida since October, only taking a brief break in December before resuming operations in January. South Florida's economy has been especially hard according to press reports and permits, especially in Miami have become more cumbersome. According to Briggs, the city now requires extensive electrical diagrams for wiring placement so each location takes additional work and time.

Briggs tPhoto By The Wizardakes about 30-35 rides to Florida for an extensive route through April booked by general agent Brian Morrissey. Morrissey is a life-long friend of Brigg's father, Frank Briggs.

After their Florida stint, the show will be playing an all new date in Savannah, GA on the Coastal Empire Fairgrounds, the Coastal Empire Rib Fest. The event is sponsored by the Savannah Exchange Club and will run May 7 - 10. In the first year for the event, the organization will have a circus, wrestling and plenty of ribs and vendors. The show will field 25-30 rides, 40 games and food stands, according to Stan Minker who books concessions for the show.

From Savannah, the show moves to Dalton, GA and then to Anderson, SC before jumping to Chicagoland for the summer. In Chicago, the show booked St. Stanislaus Church, a large event they will be playing over the summer.

Once the summer is complete, Briggs heads south to Huntsville, AL for Octoberfest before moving to Sawainsboro and Thomasville, GA before returning to Florida.
Modern Midways added several new rides over the past year. In the fall, the show purchased a Power Surge from Len Soled's Rides-4-U, a major new spectacular purchase. Also new this year is a Chance 3-abreast Merry Go Round from a private seller.

In addition to the new purchases, Modern Midways also has completed several extensive projects at the show's winterquarters in Chicago and Florida. Putting the newly returned "Wizard" back to work, Briggs had the legendary show painter work his magic on his Beach Party Funhouse, Owen's Mardi Gras and A.R.M. Touch Down.

Dennis Kline was also busy at work with the show painting the Orbiter, Mini-Jet Dinos, Red Baron and Spider.

One project Briggs is especially proud of is his Sky Wheel refurbishment. The seats, rim irons and bull wheels were all powder coated and extensive electrical work was completed. The newly refurbished ride is scheduled to make its debut in Savannah, GA in May.

Briggs said the last year has been "the best year with help I have ever had". Key employees include Scott Menge as Operations Manager, Michael Burke as Transportation Director and Ryan Vawter conducts criminal background checks for the show's employees to comply with Illinois law.

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