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ON THE ROAD WITH GILLETTE SHOWS
By Dan McGinnis
April 19, 2006 marked the beginning of the 58th season for Gillette Shows of Pittsfield, MA. Started in 1947 by brothers Art and Jules Gillette the show has grown to be a major player in the northeast. Jules’ widow Betty now runs the show with the help of her sons, Jules and Jerry.
MCW visited the show in Adams, Massachusetts where they played May 18 through the 21st. The spring was rainy and cold but when the weather cooperated business was reported to be brisk. Fielding a 15 ride unit in Massachusetts, the show expands to as many as 30-35 rides during fair season which began July 21st in Afton, NY. In Adams the ride lineup included a Chance Sea Dragon, Chance Giant Wheel, Cliff Hanger, Typhoon, Orbiter, Scooter, Flying Bobs, Merry-Go-Round, Slide, Scooter, Sooper Jet, Convoy, 2 umbrella rides and a new Rockin’ Tug.
Off-season, Gillette runs a winter quarters at its Pittsfield office with a large repair shop. The show moves mostly through the use of private hauling companies. Straight jobs pull some of the kiddie rides and smaller equipment and they maintains a few tractors to spot the rides on the lot.
From Adams they moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a stop they play each year over Memorial Day weekend. Their route also takes them through Cobleskill, NY where they provide the midway for the “Cobleskill Sunshine Fair” August 8 – 13. MCW visited the show again in Cobleskill where Gillette fielded an impressive lineup of 22 rides and large crowds indicated business was very good. All show personnel wore uniform shirts and hats and the midway was well maintained.
Big City concessions, owned by Big Al Derise &Joanne Navarra have a cookhouse and 2 stands at Gillette’s fairs. The cookhouse is open for employees as well as fair visitors. They serve a variety of offerings including Italian sausage, Philly steaks, mozzarella steaks, Philly chicken, veggie subs, hot dogs, hamburgers, cheese burgers and corn dogs. In addition to Big City Concessions, Bryan & Kay Fairlee had a new state of the art French Fry trailer and Vinny Nelson had a pizza stand. The show owns a 2 year old popcorn, floss and candy apple trailer.
After Cobleskill the show plays fairs in Frankfort, N.Y. August 15 - 20, Cummington, Mass. August 24 - 27, Spencer, Mass Sept. 1 – 4 and Cumberland, ME Sept. 24 – 30.