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Nebraska State Fair adds new Sky Ride in 2012; New Carnival in 2013

3/26/2012

By Ron Weber

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The Nebraska State Fair is making more changes this year.  In 2010, the fair moved from its 109-year home in Lincoln to a beautiful new fairgrounds in Grand Island.  The fair had a good year in 2010 and they were up another 8% in 2011.

In 2011, the fair will be adding a new 1200' sky ride to take fair guests around the grounds.  The ride will be separately ticketed from midway rides and it will only be used during the State Fair.  Details are currently being worked out on the construction that will take place for the ride's erection.  Concrete footings will have to be poured and the ride assembled and erected.

The sky ride contract was awarded to Wade Shows who will be operating the ride during the fair in 2012.  In 2013, Wade will be providing the entire carnival midway for the Nebraska State Fair.  The fair did not undertake a full Request For Proposals but instead talked with 3 or 4 shows that were of interest to them.  In the end it was Wade Shows' reputation that won the day.

"Wade has an excellent reputation across the country", said Nebraska State Fair Executive Director Joseph McDermott.  "The quality of their carnival rides was very appealing".  Other factors included an excellent maintenance program, brightly painted rides and efficient use of resources such as the use LED lights and new fuel-efficient generators.

McDermott said the board met with Wade Shows' owner Frank Zaitshik and the two groups hit it off immediately.  "Frank was very forthcoming", said McDermott.

Guests of the 2013 Nebraska State Fair can expect to see a great attention to small details such as shaded areas, landscaping and seating areas.  "Wade even has colored table cloths.  They are attentive to small details many other shows may take for granted", said McDermott.

The State Fair was also intrigued by Wade Shows' new Gold Access Program.  Much like the program offered at many amusement parks, Gold Access gives customers the ability to skip to the front of the lines at rides and attractions.  They also may receive food discounts, preferred seating and other premium amenities, depending upon the event.  McDermott said the fair would be studying the program and looking into logistics to see what else might be offered to fair guests but he noted it was a great way to raise additional revenue.

Wade will replace Belle City Amusements who purchased the contract from Bluegrass Shows when owner Jim Murphy retired.  McDermott said the fair was not dissatisfied with Belle City's performance, they just believed Wade Show would be a better fit moving forward.

Wade Shows' owner Frank Zaitshik was very excited to be playing the event in 2013.  The fair fills a gap that has been present in their schedule over Labor Day since the demise of the Michigan State Fair, an event the show played for over 50 years.  "Not only is it an honor to be awarded the contract for such a prestigious event, it fits perfectly into our business plan, consolidating routing and matching revenue with expenses", he said.

Zaitshik said Wade Shows would be bringing state fair rides such as the Drag Strip Mega Slide, a Pinfari roller coaster and the White Water Flume ride.  "What is really going to set us apart is the awesome midway presentation we are planning", he added. 

The fair's new facility in Grand Island cost 42 million to build.  It features state of the art livestock facilities that have a national reputation.  McDermott said the major difference is the design of the grounds where the agricultural buildings make up the core of the fair.  In Lincoln, the buildings were spread apart and the fair was unable to feature the agricultural aspects of the fair as well as they can in Grand Island.

Fair guests seem to agree the new facilities are a great leap forward.  The fair conducts guest satisfaction surveys each year.  In Lincoln, guests were satisfied 80 - 85% of the  time.  In Grand Island, that has moved to 94%.  "We work very hard to make them happy", said McDermott.

With a new sky ride in 2012 and an all-new midway in 2013, the Nebraska State Fair is continuing that work.

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