The Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, N.Y. made a major midway change this year. For fair manager Tom Odak the change was not an easy one to make. Reithoffer Shows held the contract for 35 years always with a large lineup of rides and concessions. A close working relationship was developed over the years. Citing opening day problems and the need for a change, the fair switched this year to Powers Great American Midways. This is the second of four large new dates signed by Powers for the 2006 season; the Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg, MD, Rhinebeck, the Cabarrus County Fair in Concord, NC and the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. Needless to say it has been a busy season of planning and anticipation for these new dates for the show.
Wednesday August 23rd MCW went to see this new midway. This reporter has never s
een Powers’ show before and was eager to see it. Walking down the food court and seeing the show for the first time one is initially struck by the blue show colors. The food stands are all family owned and form an impressive line on the food court.
Our next stop was the office trailer where we were greeted by Charlie Belknap, press relations manager for the show. Charlie was the long time owner of a helldriver stunt show popular with fairs and events throughout the country. After retiring in 2004, Charlie joined Powers Great American in his current position. Charlie related that the show had closed in Gaithersburg, Maryland at the Montgomery County Fair on Saturday, August 19th and then made a 377-mile jump into Rhinebeck to open on Tuesday, August 22nd. “We helped set new attendance records in Gaithersburg including having the best day in the history of the fair’, said Belknap. He reported ride gross to be way up over last year, better even than the show had expected. SMS Amusements formerly held the contract in Gaithersburg for many years.
Powers Great American Midways runs two units, the dark blue and light blue units. Their season started the week of May 2-7 at the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, VA with both units united. The show then spit with still dates until June 29th when fair season started. They will close at the Cape Fear Fair in Wilmington, N.C. Oct. 24-Nov. 4th.
Charlie introduced us to show owner Corky Powers who explained that his favorite color was blue hence the attractive scheme for rides, tents and concessions reflected his preferences. Show personnel had different color shirts according to the department for which they worked. Rides wear one color, concessions another and office staff a third. All personnel wore picture IDs with their department designation. Powers showed us his immaculate shop area where rides are worked on. Powers said attention to maintenance and solid training of employees has helped produce an excellent safety record for the show. An innovation for the show is the use of satellite radio music on all rides with the exception of the Merry Go Round, which retains traditional carousel music. The office controlled the music so rides were not competing with stereos blasting different songs. The service is commercial free and seemed to work very well for the show.
The children’s ride area had the attractive show front gate at the entrance. All the rides in this area were themed with attractive designs. New rides on the midway included the Traffic Jam. Powers had 44 rides on the midway in Rhinebeck as follows: Merry-Go-Round, Wave Swinger, Fun Slide, Tea Cups, Speedway, Jet Skis, Hampton Combo, Hampton Motorcycle, Uncle Al, Cliff Hanger, Gondola Wheel, Claw, Zipper, Glass House, Fun House, Dark Ride, Super Shot, Ring Of Fire, Bumper Cars, Twister, Orbiter, Dizzy Dragons, Rainbow Rock, Sizzler, Fire Chief, Construction Zone, Quadzilla, Jalopy Junction, Tilt, Zero Gravity, Music Express, Flying Bobs, Traffic Jam, Starship 2000, Spider, Wacky worm, Hurricane, 1001 Nachts, Elephant Tower, Circus Train. Pharaoh’s Fury, Freak Out, Crystal Lil’s Glass House and Ghoul City dark ride.
From Rhinebeck, Powers moves to Indiana, PA and Albemarle, NC with stops in Salisbury, Concord, and Goldsboro, NC. The season culminates, with their biggest challenge to date, the North Carolina State Fair, where the will be supplemented by Frank Zaitshik’s Wade Shows, then closing in Wilmington, NC.
MCW will be reporting from Raleigh to cover Powers’ extraordinary season.