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IAFE Trade Show -- Part I
Many fairs have a solid season
By Ron Weber, Editor
The 2010 IAFE Convention was held once again at the Paris and Bally,s Hotels in Las Vegas. The mood at the show was optimistic with many fairs and carnivals reporting very successful years.
Ralph Shoptaw of the Arkansas State Fair said his fair had a record year and they are in the process of considering options for moving their fairgrounds to a new setting. In fact, according to the newly released MCW Top 50 Fairs list, 9 of the Top 50 fairs had record years in 2010. The Houston Livestock Show and Exhibition, the San Diego County Fair, The Orange County Fair, the Mississippi State Fair, the Colorado State Fair, the Arkansas State Fair, the Georgia National Fair and the North Carolina State Fair and Erie County Fair all had record years, with the latter two breaking the million mark for the first time.
Vendors and exhibitors were all reporting good, steady business. Fairs and carnivals seemed to be spending money banking on a good 20111 with a cautious optimism.
Tony Fiori of Ray Cammack Shows said the show had "a great year. Every fair was up.". Fiori said 2010 was the biggest year ever in the company,s history citing several examples. "We had our biggest day ever in Houston (at the Livestock Show) and then we beat that record twice more before the fair ended", he added.
Fiori said RCS had some rides and improvements to the midway in the works, hinting at revolutionary things to come but declining to be specific at this point. Fiori said the show books independent Jim Bishop for the whole season with his Sky Flyer, Evolution, Tango, Up Up and Away and Rocket Ships rides and he is a great asset to the show.
Fiori also commented on the RCS Fun Pass system, and its usefulness to the show. He said RCS had also instituted a new Fast Pass system this year for a $20 upcharge. This program allows guest premium access to RCS midway attractions with special queuing systems. He said the company had implemented the program at the Arizona State Fair and it was a great success. RCS limited sales to 2,000 per day initially to work out any kinks in the system but Fiori said there are plans to raise that number in the future.
Two carnivals also signed new contracts for fairs recently. Reithoffer Shows signed with the Western Carolina Agricultural Fair in Aiken, SC. They will return to the fair after several year absences when the midway was provided by Belle City Amusements.
The Robeson County Fair in Lumberton, NC also officially signed their new contract with Wade Shows to provide the midway for the 2011 fair. Wade will be bringing many spectacular rides and midway enhancements and the fair said they would be featuring the new midway in advertising for the 2011 edition of the fair. Wade will be jumping out of Oklahoma City to the fair and then head to the North Carolina State Fair to play the fair with Powers Great American Midways. Frank Zaitshik of Wade Shows said the fair was one of the best in North Carolina and he was looking forward to working with such an excellent event.
Throughout the convention there were many seminars and discussions on a wide range of topics but one of the hottest issues was the continuing expansion of Wage and Hours investigations and class action lawsuits. In one seminar attorneys familiar with the situation said over half of the carnivals and showmen in the room would be subject to Department of Labor investigations or a class action suit in the near future. Many took notice at these words.
More on this topic and a very interesting fair and carnival relations symposium in our next installment.