In their own words: Ivan Arnold Four questions with an industry pioneer, Ivan Arnold of Arnolds Amusements
By Ron Weber
MCW is proud to present another video in our Industry Pioneers series. This installment features Ivan Arnold of Arnold Amusements.
Arnold started the company 31 years ago after working as a manager with Wade Shows for the previous19 years. He started in the business with Buster Anderson who he met at the Traverse City Fair in Michigan. After school was out Arnold would work in game concessions to make extra money.
Arnold worked with Anderson on Happyland Shows until 1966 when he purchased his first ride, a Swinging Gym. He booked the ride with Happyland as well as Bob Reed and Glen Wade and "Red" Wood of W.G. Wade Shows.
As Arnold added equipment, he booked more and more attractions, reaching seven pieces with Wade Shows and he took a job as a unit manager. Arnold ran the third unit for W.G. Wade Shows until 1983 when he began his new venture.
With a Merry Go Round, Skyfighter Pony Carts, Wet Boat ride, Ferris Wheel, Popper, and generator he booked his first event in Eaton Rapids, Michigan over July 4th and has been going strong ever since.
Along with sons Tom and Jon, Arnold has grown the company to approximately 40 rides but keep only one unit at most times so the family can stay together. The season begins on New Year's eve then they play events in Florida including the Florida State Fair before heading back to Michigan. They play through the beginning of November and then head back to Gibsonton, FL where the show has it's winter home.
Arnold said 2011 was wet in the spring then hot, over 100 degrees on July 4th but the show rebounded with some strong fairs.
In addition to his sons, Arnold has grandkids who work on his show and with his daughter and son in-law on T.J. Schmidt & Co. shows. Other family members operate games and food stands.
Arnold Amusements is certainly a family affair!
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