For almost twenty years, Brian Schuman's Fair Productions has been a leader in producing "county fair" type projects at venues throughout the East Coast. The Belmont Fair and Festival, the Big "A" Fair at Aqueduct Racetrack, the Brookhaven Fair, the Nassau Coliseum Fair, the Pimlico Racetrack Fair and the Laurel Racetrack Fair are all projects Schuman's company started or operated over his career.
Schuman, who had a strong background in concert and consumer show production was looking for a new challenge when union bills became prohibitive for his trade show business at venues on Long Island. Schuman spoke with friends at a building where a fair was being operated and soon began doing research about fairs and festivals. This included bringing his small children, Justin and Jordan, to tour local events.
"They were really the reason I got started in the business", said Schuman. "The kids loved being at these events. I saw the smiles events put on the faces of children and parents were delighted to be sharing the experience with them. As a father, I thought, this is the business I want to pursue.", he added.
Schuman had a strong background in marketing and promotion and he researched carnival and entertainers while making contact with the New York Racing Association, the operators of Belmont and Aqueduct Racetracks. "They had a great management team in place and they were excited, yet apprehensive, about doing these types of events. I worked with local community groups and delivered on the promises I made and for over a decade the fairs became marquee events for the facilities", he added.
Over the years, as buildings and management went through changes, some of the fairs have come and gone. Currently, Schuman operates three events, the Hudson Valley Fair, the Brookhaven Fair, now in its 12th year, and for the first time, the Palisades Fair.
2012 was an excellent year for weather and all three events were a success. Schuman booked entertainment such as Mike Sandlofer's Great American Frontier Show, a petting zoo, wolf show, Lance Gifford's Magic and Illusion Show and Cowtown USA to provide a great afternoon of entertainment for his guests. "I want my customers to know they received a great value for their money once they pay the admission price", said Schuman. "For $5 or so, guests can come to the fair and have a great time", he added.
Schuman also features two for one admission coupons at all of his fairs, lowering the price to as little as $2.50 per person if they arrive before certain times of day.
For the first time in 2012, Schuman worked with Strates Shows to provide the midway for the three events. "They did a fantastic job", said Schuman, "we had record numbers at most of our events". Schuman said the Strates family was a pleasure to work with and he especially enjoyed the time he spent with the show's "official photographer", E. James Strates. "Mr. Strates was on the midway every day he was in town over the nine weeks, taking pictures. He actually made me a wonderful CD with a slideshow that turned out just unbelievable", he added.
Schuman said over the years he has had the pleasure to work with several excellent carnivals at his events including Amusements of America, World Wide Entertainment Group, Rockwell Amusements, J&J Amusements and decades-long relationships with Frank Zaitshiks' Wade Shows and Frank Conklin's Conklin Shows.
During his fair career, sometimes through trial and era, Schuman has settled on a formula for his events. They largely run for three weekends at a time and operate only Fridays through Sundays, unless there are holidays or summer days during the week. "We have found that we want to be open when the business is there and taking a few days during the week to get work done on equipment and recharge for the next weekend has been a successful business plan. We don't want to waste the expenses or tire our people out opening on a weekday when only a handful of people are coming", he added.
For 2012 and 2013, Schuman has outlined an ambitious plan to expand to up to 10 events. With a second home and restaurant in West Palm Beach, FL, the Sunshine State was a natural place to look for initial expansion. Schuman is looking at up to 5 new events in Florida during this winter, starting Oct. 26th in Miami. Schuman will again be working with Wade Shows who will be providing 40 rides for the event and there will be a circus, petting zoo, lion and tiger show, illusion show and Banana Derby in addition to live music. He plans a $100,000 + marketing budget with radio, T.V. and direct mail.
The fair will run through November 11th. He is also looking at two different venues and interviewing carnivals for a second location in the Tampa/St. Pete area for late November into December. The company also has the possibly to cap the season off in Orlando with a three-week Christmas event.
At the beginning of the year, there are likely to be two additional events in Florida, but locations, entertainment and carnival companies are still being decided.
"I am really looking forward to producing these new events, working with some great carnival companies and entertainers, new and old, and expanding our business in the 2012-2013 season", said Schuman. "I have the equipment, personnel and motivation to move forward and I am just working to have everything come together to make each event a success."