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Arnold Amusements Plays New Great Lakes State Fair in Michigan
Show reports good season; adds three attractions for 2012

9/18/2012

By Don Muret

Rides 4U - NEW AND USED RIDES Farrow Finance Rides 4U - LED LIGHTING PACKAGES Farrow Finance
John Arnold was stuck in the mud setting up his unit at the Utica (Mich.) Apple Festival in early September.

Welcome to life in the carnival business.

Arnold's family owns Arnold's Amusements, now playing its 32nd season in Michigan and parts of Florida. John and Tom Arnold, his brother, run the show's two units. Their parents, Ivan and Agnes Arnold, founded the carnival in the early 1980s. Together, they own and operate about 50 rides and attractions, plus games and food concessions.

In Utica, an overnight rain made it difficult for John Arnold and his son, Alex, 23, a third generation showman, to lay out the lot. But things were drying out and John was not overly concerned about the situation. It happens, he said.

Arnold AmusementsOverall, the carnival has had a pretty good season, at least to the point that it is paying the bills, Arnold said. The show's route covers some of the biggest dates in Michigan, including the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City.

The economy has held its own in northern Michigan, but in Greater Detroit, the public has been cautious and watching what they spend on the midway, Arnold said.

This year marked the inaugural Great Lakes State Fair, Aug. 31-Sept. 3, at an expo center in Novi, Mich., a 30-minute drive northwest of downtown Detroit. Arnold's Amusements set up 26 pieces outdoors at the event, run by a non-profit corporation set up under the laws of the state of Michigan.

The new event effectively replaces the old state-run Michigan State Fair in Detroit, which went out of business in 2009 due to financial problems.

In Novi, officials have tried to replicate the flavor of the old state fair with a strong emphasis on agriculture, and of course, a carnival midway, according to local reports.

Arnold's had a decent run at Great Lakes, a property about half the size of the original state fairgrounds, and the show has committed to playing the spot for 2013, Arnold said.

The carnival splits into two units for 12 to 15 dates in Michigan during the summer. In late September, the show will take 38 rides to Florida from late September through November.

A big date is the House of Horrors in Miami, where Arnold Amusements is among a bevy of Halloween attractions set up for the month of October. Winter quarters are in Michigan and Florida.

The show has three new attractions for 2012, two Hampton kiddies and an ARM Drop Tower. The Arnold family has been very happy with the Drop Tower, moving it back and forth between units, Arnold said.

The Drop Tower is one of several rides equipped with LED lighting to give the show a cleaner, crisper look. Both Ferris wheels, the Zipper, Scooter, Mardi Gras and Orbiter also have the upgraded lighting package. Committees notice the improvements, Arnold said.

John's wife, Karen, runs all the food on the show. Their two high school-age daughters help out on the midway during the summer months.
 
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Arnold Amusements

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