The annual IISA Trade Show kicked off Tuesday, February 8th at 10 am to slightly cooler than normal temperatures. As an added feature of the show this year, MCW will be sending frequent posts via Facebook (carnivalwarehouse) and Twitter (@mattscarnival). Please like our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the fastest news, updates and pictures not just here at the trade show but throughout the year!
Sid Karmia of Toy Factory is someone who is very thankful for the outstanding weather the industry had in the fall of last year. He said after a bad spring he was not optimistic about the year's outcome but a perfect string of weekends in the fall, when it really counts, turned things around for the year.
Sid said his company had some hot products for 2011 in the form of Despicable Me characters from the popular movie including the "minions" and the exclusive in the amusement industry for Green Lantern characters. He is hoping for a good 2011.
Ward Hall, although claiming to be retired from the road, seems to keep going strong year after year. He currently is traveling, giving lectures on the history of magic to conventions in Minnesota, Milwaukee and Chicago. Hall said before his storied side show career, he began as a magician at age 15. He said he was the "world's worst magician". But when Hall began to sell a magic kit during the show, he found he was a "better pitchman than magician".
Using his skills, Ward worked in the side show business for many years and in partnership with Chris Christ, his shows still tour the country. He currently has a large side show and museum with 24 life size wax figures of famous oddities.
Hall said there would be a new twist to the show this year, beginning in Tampa at the Florida State Fair. The side show will now have two levels, for the first time in the world he claims, with acts both up top and below!
Crowds on the first day seemed pretty solid and there were lots of new products to see, old acquaintances to renew and plenty of business to do. Brian Ison of Showmen's Supplies said the company was excited about their new ESALED bulb which has various patterns and light sequences built directly into the bulb so there is no need for new sockets or rewiring in most cases.
Also new is the "Crazy 8", one of the most economically priced LED lighting packages. The 8 lights are staggered with four elevated to give extra shine. The company recently sold 6,000+ lights to a Canadian carnival and hopes for more sales at the show.
Ison said the durability of the LEDs is a great positive as is their ability to save on energy use. Some customers however, like the "yellower" look of the old incandescent lighting and there are solutions in progress to get that effect out of the LED lights.
Jim Drew reported that Drew Expositions has purchased the first US X-Factory. The ride is similar to an Avalanche but the seats tilt forward and water will spray up towards the seats. The ride is manufactured by KMG and there are currently only 4 in the world. Drew hopes to take delivery in September or October of the new ride.
Drew said 2010 was a pretty good season, but like many others he is very cautious about fuel prices. He remembers well the spike in prices the industry experienced a few years ago and the negative effect it had on his company's bottom line.
Bill Peeler of the Peeler Group gave a seminar in the afternoon about an important issue facing the industry, I-9 Forms and reporting. The Peeler Group was established in 1995 and has provided human resources help at over 500 locations. He has 30-plus years in the carnival business including many as a concessionaire.
Peeler said many carnival owners are unaware of the laws governing I-9 forms, the Employment Eligibility Verification form. Forms must be filled out for nearly every employee when hired and non-compliant firms can face fines of up to $10,000 and even criminal action.
Immigration inspectors are not allowed to discriminate when conducting an investigation so it is important that a form is filled out for all workers, not just foreign workers. Peeler advised that having your paperwork, neat, complete and easily accessible can help speed up your time during an audit or inspection.
If an employer provides anything of value to an employee, money, housing or food included, they are responsible for having an I-9 form for that worker completed in a timely fashion.
Section I of the I-9 form for employee information must be filled out immediately after acceptance of employment. Peeler said many companies fill out the form along with background check forms which technically, must be conducted before employment and the I-9 after background check and after employment acceptance. While this may be easier for the employer, taking the time to do it right can keep you out of trouble.
The second part of the form, employer review and certification, must be completed in three business days from the hiring date. To complete Section II, the employee needs a document from list A or List B and a document from List C on the form. List A documents establish both identity and authorization. Documents include a U.S. passport, permanent resident card, foreign passport, etc. List B documents establish identity and they include drivers licenses or ID card from a state, ID card issued by the federal government, school ID cards and several other forms. Finally, List C, Documents that establish employment authorization include a social security account number card, certificate of birth abroad, birth certificate and several more employment authorization documents.
The employee may give the employer any approved document from the lists, it is not up to the employer to specify the document. It is important that the employer not accept expired documents for proof in Section II.
Types of employees that do not require I-9 forms are
1) Employees hired before November 6, 1986 and under continuous employment
2) People employed for casual domestic work in a private home
3) Independent contractors
4) Leased employees or employees from temporary services
5) Those not physically working in the US
You must keep I-9 forms on file for the later of 3 years after date of hire or 1 year after date of termination.
Peeler said by keeping good records and religiously filling out paperwork, even on temporary hires, carnivals can avoid costly fines and audits.
Wednesday the trade show will open at 10 am and we will have plenty more to report including new items from Hitchhiker, new purchases by carnivals and new and interesting concession equipment.
New "Minions" from The Toy Factory
Gary Otterbacher shows off his new bunk houses by Lifetime Trailers.
Majestic Manufacturing revealed it's Helicopter ride concept
Mike & Bill Reiss of Blue Sky Amusements
Frank Briggs (Modern Midways), Matt Cook (MCW), and Chris Cox (MCW)