Sunny skies greeted attendees during the second day of the 2011 IISA Trade Show and Extravaganza. There was a solid crowd of people for most of the day and many vendors reported being optimistic about the outlook for 2011.
One person especially optimistic about the year is Carol Silvey of Wisdom Industries. She owns the company along with brother Victor Wisdom. While the company owns the building they both work in, each of the siblings now has their own business they run within it. Victor owns Wisdom Rides and Carol owns the newly created www.rideparts.com.
Rideparts.com will be providing the ride parts and customer service for brother Victor's Wisdom Rides. In addition, Silvey hopes to expand the company to handle more supplies from other manufacturers and she already has several arrangements in place.
Rideparts.com will be a 24-hour one-stop shop for parts and equipment if Silvey has her way. She hopes to allow customers to be able to order parts at their convenience and deliver outstanding delivery times.
To this end, Silvey has staged critical parts for the Wisdom rides around the country so some parts can be delivered in as quick as four hours. Customers can coordinate parts orders in one sitting at their computer.
Their new website will carry descriptions and photos of the ride parts and payment can be made by check credit cards or Pay Pal. Silvey is hoping to use the internet to revolutionize the ordering and delivery of ride parts.
Many people stopped by the MCW booth to share their stories and experiences both here at the trade show and from their history in the industry. Stanley Mazurkiewicz came by to ask a few questions as he is considering getting back into the industry after a five-year absence. His family started Mohawk Amusements, originally in Buffalo, New York in 1960. From there his family played little spots around Buffalo until the jumped into Brockton to play with Amusements of America. Mazurkiewicz credits Morris Vivona, Sr. with helping the family purchase their first generator there and the Vivonas helped his family expand their route into New Jersey, where they were later based.
Another face we see every year is Mike Knott, the concession manager for the CNE. Mike somehow manages to drag himself away from the balmy temperatures of Toronto in February to come and visit the show in Florida. Knott contributed quite a bit of the CNE's experiences with the internet and social media during MCW's seminar on web based marketing. The CNE has over 30,000 followers on Facebook and he said his event has used the medium effectively to promote events throughout the year.
While the CNE dropped a couple of notches to #7 on the MCW Top 50 Fair list this year, Knott maintains the CNE holds the #1 spot in an even more important category, being the greenest fair in the country. In 2010, the CNE diverted almost 84% of their waste. This is all waste that avoids the landfill. They even found someone to recycle the plates from the Break-A-Plate game. Overall, there was an astounding 1,355,564 kgs of waste diverted and only 220,297 kgs had to be taken to the landfill. While MCW does not currently have a "Top Greenest Fairs" list, if we did they would certainly receive the award. Congratulations CNE!
Schmidt Amusements is a family owned show that travels only in Michigan. Actually, to be precise Tom, Peggy and Jason Anderson are really the second unit of Schmidt Amusements. Peggy's sister Nancy is also on the show. The other unit of Schmidt Amusements is owned by her two other brothers.
Peggy's father started in the industry on W.G. Wade Shows in 1966 with Glen Wade. He worked for Wade until he started his own show in 1982. They began with 12 rides including a Hustler and Rock-O-Plane.
This unit of Schmidt Amusements currently has 11 rides but son Jason was looking for a couple of additional rides, a slide and another major ride. The show's unit started with 9 rides in 2008, expanded to 11 and now hopes to be up to 13 rides in 2011.
In addition to their own events, the show plays with Skerbeck Shows in Hartford and Allegan Michigan.
If you spend enough time around the trade show, you will hear all kinds of stories, some seemingly impossible to believe. Some people claim to have extraordinary backgrounds, they have done everything under the sun in their lives, performed some outstanding feats or gotten themselves out of impossible situations. I don't know if all of them are true or not, but they certainly make interesting listening.
Mike Sandlofer, with his Great American Frontier Show, is one individual with a seemingly unbelievable past, but the strangest thing about it is that it is absolutely true. He was at the trade show looking for workers to take on the road with him during the 2011 season.
Mike travels the fair circuit with his wife Sharon and Daughter Benna. They have several shows, even a whole village of attractions, they erect with a Wild West theme. The Sandlofers have the only traveling, performing wolf pack, all rescued animals they have trained to perform. These animals were rescued from illegal fur farms and taken care of by the Sandlofers at their ranch in South Carolina.
Daughter Benna performs in the dog and pony show, an attraction for the smaller kids. She is also a third generation trick rider performing in their premier show, the Frontier Show. The Sandlofers feature the animals that built America, teaching about oxen, horses and the animals that had so much to do with the growth of the country. There are shootouts, music, strongly patriotic themes and the highlight of the show this year will be Benna's Roman Riding, riding two horses at once -- through fire!
Benna's mom Sharon was also a trick rider, as were her parents who performed on the Ringling Show. Sharon's other daughter recently left the Ringling Show for the Big Apple Circus but she trained three rings of animals to leave on the Ringling Show.
Sharon and Mike spent many years in the circus business, operating "Circus With A Purpose" and raising awareness about animal treatment, American history and the environment.
It was during an interview in 2010 that I was amazed to learn about Mike Sandlofer's past before the circus. He had a career in the military. He was a Navy Seal and Vietnam veteran. In 1981, Mike rescued the first great sperm whale from a prolonged stranding. Then he made subsequent whale rescues in Newfoundland and off Baja California. He also released the 1st captive born Manatee back into the wild. Not to be outdone, Sandlofer invented and later, patented a special harness that has helped to safely rescue many other animals. He also trained for the military the first seal team (the animals) to penetrate the fuselage of an airplane underwater and bring out the pilot or passengers.
Even before the whale rescue, in 1976 Sandlofer founded the North Wind Museum with famous performer Richie Havens. The purpose of the museum was to educate young people about the plight of the environment. The museum featured a 100-year-old Tugboat; towering whale bones and life-size models of whales and the North Wind Rescuarium, where injured or ill marine animals were rehabilitated.
In 1984, Michael was awarded the Rolex award for Enterprise. Don't believe all this? You can look it up! I did.