Gibsonton, FL - Sunny skies but unseasonably cold temperatures greeted visitors to the IISF Trade Show on Thursday. Vendors and attendees wore jackets and even gloves to keep warm during the show.
The Lisko Family, carnival operators for many years, undertook an exciting new venture in 2009, re-opening Conneaut Lake Amusement Park in Ohio. They took over the park in April of 2009. The park consisted of 22 existing rides and a water park with 2 slides, a lazy river and a kiddie pool. Much of the equipment needed repairs but the water park was finally opened by July 4th.
The park is owned by a private trust that leases the park to the Lisko family. The park is also home to the famous wood roller coaster the Blue Streak which is in need of extensive repairs. Tim Lisko said the family is trying to raise the $100,000 needed to repair the ride through fundraising drives. He hopes to work on the ride in 2010.
In addition to the existing equipment, the Liskos added the show's Sky Diver from their carnival as well as mobile games and food stands. As the season progressed, they were able to get some of the food and game buildings open. Lisko found that the brightly-lit and attractive looking portable equipment actually did better in many cases than the permanent buildings.
Unfortunately for the park, temperatures in July and August were very cold, sometimes dipping into the 40s. The park lost many operating days for the water park, keeping the venture from making money in its first year. Tim Lisko is taking a long-term approach to the situation, saying he thinks it will take 3-5 years for the park to turn a profit.
In 2010, the park will open Memorial Day for the season. Meanwhile brother Steve Lisko continues to operate the family carnival, playing in FL, VA, OH and several other eastern states.
Chestnut Identity Apparel is a company that continues to offer an expanded line of products to the industry. Jon Chestnut said he expects the company's soccer balls to be very hot this year with the World Cup in full swing. The balls are sold in several different sizes with regular sized balls selling for $2.99 each. The company can also make customized balls with logos.
Flags are another popular item for Chestnut. The company makes flags in several sizes using custom graphics and photographs. The flags come with a stand for placing on the ground or they can be placed atop food and game trailers. The 6 ½ ft. and 10 ft. flags were on display in the booth. Double sided printing on the flags is one of the strong selling points for Chestnut's offerings.
Looking at uniforms, Chestnut said wicking shirts, which are sweat absorbent, have been very popular. They sell the shirts in lots as small as 24 pieces.
Chestnut's venture into LED lighting, begun late last year has been flourishing. The company offers both colored and clear bulbs which are made to screw into existing light sockets and they use the same caps and lenses currently on a ride. The LED lights last much longer than turbo light bulbs and the energy savings is dramatic. Chestnut claims his bulbs are some of the brightest available and he is taking orders for the bulbs in Gibtown. Neal Dorfman of Wade Shows ordered color changing bulbs for his popcorn stand and he is using clear bulbs for his marquee.
M. Manufacturing has been building trailers in northeast Ohio for over 30 years. On display at the show is their first "billboard marqee" double stacked trailer. The new Sirloin Tip Trailer is being delivered to Mark Frazier of Frazier Fine Foods. Also unique about the stand is a large prep room behind the trailer for readying food for selling. The back room keeps the prep person out of the elements and they can easily deliver their product to the waiting warming pans inside the window at the back of the trailer.
Other orders pending for M include two trailers for Charlie Cox of Cox Concessions, a pizza and steak trailer. Last year Cox purchased two additional trailers, a funnel cake and corndog. Tim Casper of PBJ Happee Days Shows ordered a funnel Cake/Lemonade trailer last year and they are getting ready to take delivery on a new ticket office trailer in 2010.
Austintown, OH near the Canfield Fair is home to over 30 concessionaires within a mile or two of the company's shop.
One of the most innovative ideas at the trade show comes from Build A Box. Company owner James "Veto" Blake is an electrician for Reithoffer Shows and started the junction box building company on his own.
Blake has developed the world's first interchangeable junction boxes. The four hundred amp boxes have four trays that can be connected and interchanged. Each tray has a different configuration of plugs, 110 outlets, twist locks or mini cams. As the use for the box changes, the tray for the different female plugs can be exchanged for another tray. The trays lock into place, connecting at the back to a set of large cams. The trays can be removed and the large cams used if this configuration is desired.
Access panels on the sides expose the breakers and the back can be opened and accessed with ease. The boxes are patented, lab tested and certified.
Blake sells the boxes for $13,000 per unit.
Blake has also developed a small tent that can go over the junction boxes, leaving a cosmetically pleasing appearance. His Add-A-Tent kit is also available for purchase at the Build A Box booth.
In the educational seminars, MCW rolled out their online ticketing program. Matt Cook introduced the proprietary program he developed which is designed for small and medium sized carnivals to safely, efficiently and affordably sell tickets online before or during an event.
Cook said he believes his program will enable carnivals to increase tickets sales and hedge their risk against rain at events. By selling tickets in advance and having access to credit cards, the customer will have more cash to spend once the event nears and an additional pay period has passed. Unique voucher numbers are generated by the program which can be brought to a redemption booth at the fair along with ID to redeem the voucher for tickets.
At the Florida State Fair, Operations Director Fred Brown thought Thursday was going to hold up well despite the cold temperatures. He was hoping for the predicted rain to hold off on Friday so the Shriner's Kid's Day, offering free rides to children, would have a successful run.
Build a Box by Veto - Junction Boxes
Video demonstration of Build a Box by Veto:
M. Manufacturing - roll downs
Hitch Hiker, MFG
MORE photos from the 2010 trade show are available in the MCW Photo Gallery