Gibsonton, FL - Day two of the IISF Trade Show featured sunny skies but much cooler temperatures. Crowds were strong after the rainy Monday opening.
PBJ Happee Day Shows purchased the first US version of the Inversion, dubbed the Nemesis 360. Over the past several years, the show has added LED lighting to its Fabbri Wheel and a new Wave Swinger, also from Fabbri.
Cody Casper of the show said PBJ was a small carnival through the mid-1990s when before they added a Scooter, Slide and Gravitron, increasing the size of the show. In 2000, they made a big leap forward when they purchased a Wisdom Moby Dick, which remains the top ride on the show to this day. Able to make the payments on the ride, they purchased a Larson Fireball then the used Fabbri Wheel , and later, the Wave Swinger and Inversion. With each new purchase, the show added new dates to their route and expanded their revenue for the season.
PBJ plays traditionally within a 200-mile radius of Memphis, TN, covering parts of Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi. The show has an arsenal of 35 rides but they remain primarily in one unit, setting up 15 - 20 rides per week. They occasionally split into two, and for the first time this year, three units when the situation warrants.
The show generally runs from Easter to Halloween, beginning the season at BBQ cook-offs and later playing county fairs and celebrations. The show has recently picked up three county fairs in Arkansas, the Mississippi County Fair, the Independence County Fair and the White County Fair.
During the season, PBJ books some of the larger rides with Wilson Family Shows in Illinois and the Illinois State Fair with North American Midway Entertainment. This year, they are looking at booking options in the fall to expand their season for the new spectacular rides.
Cody Casper, 25, said the show had its origins when his grandmother married Dell Rohr of Rohr's Modern Midways in the 1970's. During the 80's they changed the name to the unusual sounding Hap-Hap-Happee Day Shows. In the latter part of the decade, they settled on the shortened version, PBJ Happee Day Shows, with PBJ representing family members Pam, Barb and grandma Janie.
Cody began working at age 8 or 9 in games before taking over the Rock-O-Plane and Roll-O-Plane rides. When the show purchased its Wave Swinger, it was Cody who was given the important responsibility of moving the show's newest attraction. He is the family member in charge of the new spectacular rides when they split from the show for independent dates.
"We had very good traffic" is how Tovah Sellner characterized her day at her family's sales booth. Sellner had a Tilt-A-Whirl on display with new style cars that was being delivered to Terry Swyear. The new cars have been a hit for the company. Sellner said the new ride with non-skid surface and mechanical improvements was much easier to erect than older model Tilt-A-Whirls.
Also on display at the Sellner booth was their new "Ships Ahoy" tub for their spin ride. This is the 11th vehicle in the spin line, joining the bears, apples, berries and other popular tub styles.
Sellner ran a contest among her employees to name the new ride but none of the entries met the mark. In a staff meeting it was daughter Erin who came up with the Ships Ahoy moniker. The name stuck.
The tubs can be individually named for customization. The new ride trailer will be a little wider than past spin models so a centerpiece with treasure chest and crow's nest with mast on top can be assembled.
Sellner said the open vehicle format for the tub has proven to be popular. This is the first ride Sellner has sold directly from conceptual design. Two rides have already been sold, one to Mike's Midway and the other to Paul and Evie Murray of Murray Brother's Shows. There has been "lots of interest" in the new tub said Sellner.
The wildly successful product line was actually conceived as Bruce Sellner woke one night with the idea for the ride. Initially unimpressed, Tovah Sellner encouraged him to write down his ideas and return to sleep. The dream for a ride with spinning cars and rotating arms became the Spin the Apple ride, the first generation of the spin line.
Another manufacturer with a new product on site is Wisdom Industries and their new Monster Truck ride. The family ride has six cars that hold 2 adults and two children per vehicle.
Each car has its own sound effects in both seats and the draw of the ride is that the whole family can ride together. Russ Silvey of Wisdom said this aspect has generated a lot of interest in the new piece.
The ride currently is a bumper pull but there are plans to mount the piece on a Sizzler trailer. The ride at the trade show was sold to Beauce Carnival.
Also going to Beauce was a custom designed logo bench from Wisdom. The sharp looking midway amenity can be manufactured by Wisdom with custom logos. The first bench ordered sells in the $2,000 range because of the custom setup and each successive bench sells for $1,500.
Silvey said Wade Shows took delivery of a new Sizzler ride at the Florida State Fair and a one truck Himalaya was soon to be delivered to Jake Inners. The company also sold a six-sweep Tornado to John's Incredible Pizza and a Gravitron/Starship to Dallas Jones. A revamped Cobra ride was also recently sold.
Victor Wisdom, president of the company said he was cautiously optimistic about sales for the coming season.
The Reithoffer Shows logo adorns a large ticket booth on the midway at the show. Wayne Sniher of American Changer said the box is actually an automated ticket seller that has two self-service ticket machines mounted inside.
The wireless machines, which take credit cards as well as cash, are wirelessly networked to a server that will be located in the Reithoffer Shows' office. The computer can track each transaction as it occurs and generate reports as needed.
Up to 20 machines can work off the same server. The units are self-sufficient and require little care or maintenance but they do require the purchase of an air card for internet connectivity.
The ticket machines retail for $12,000 each and they have the most sophisticated counterfeit bill detection devices available. They take denominations of $1 to $100. Credit cards require zip code verification for added security. The server sells separately for $4,500.
Sniher estimates the machines will recoup their cost in the first year of use when the cost of ticket sellers and associated expenses are considered.
Another unique feature of the machines is a bright touch pad display that can be customized with the show's logo. The machines are equipped with bi-lingual display capabilities so they can be used in all areas of the country.
As the show drew to a close and the sun receded, temperatures dropped into the low 40's. A late trip to the Florida State Fair found the midway to be empty and the fair closed early at 10pm. Tomorrow's forecast is for an equally chilly day but there is some hope the weather may warm a bit by the coming weekend.
Tomorrow: Zamperla, A.R.M and other things new and novel from the 2010 show.