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IAFE: Strates, Wade, and KMG Reports
Wade Shows undertakes holiday charity event


By Ron Weber

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The IAFE Convention is a place not just for fairs but also for carnivals to learn new information at various seminars and work with manufacturers and suppliers at both the IAFE and SLA Trade Shows.

During the IAFE show, we heard from Peter Theunisz of Holland's KMG with a late report on the recently concluded IAAPA convention. 

"We indeed had a great show in Orlando this year. We spoke with many US and European park owners who were interested in our park versions of the Speed, Fire Ball and High Swing (Stratosphere)", said Theunisz.

KMG sold a Freak out to a US carnival on the first day of the show for a late 2013 delivery and a "new ride" to Australia for 2014 delivery.  On the second day, sales continued with another Freak Out sale for the U.S. and Speed ride for a U.S. park.   A fifth and sixth sale were pending and as of yet unconfirmed.

KMG production is now into 2014 for deliveries. Already confirmed deliveries for 2013 are:

  • Speed (2nd unit) for NAME in January 2013
  • Speed (2nd unit) for RCS in January 2013
  • Inversion for Southern Cross Rides in May 2013
  • Speed for Frazier Shows in June 2013
  • X-Factory for Fiesta Shows in August 2013
  • Freak Out for Butler Amusements in December 2013

KMG also announced the extension of sales and service deals with U.S. companies.  Rides 4 U will continue to handle sales domestically, Rob Tucker of Ride Lynx  will continue as technical service and Showmen Supplies will be the main source for KMG's U.S. parts.  Theunisz said the companies all "meet the high quality and after sales requirements that KMG requires".

At the conclusion of the IAFE trade show and after a very busy season, most carnivals take some time off to rest and recharge.  That won't be the case this year for Wade Shows.  They will be undertaking a charity event at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Miles of Smiles for Kids, Dec. 14 - 16.

For the last several years, Frank Zaitshik, Wade Shows' owner, has been exploring ways to give back to foster, adoptive and needy children in his hometown Tampa, FL community.  Frank brought the outline of his idea to Chuck Pesano of the Florida State Fair Authority.  Chuck offered the fairgrounds as a home for the event as well as the enthusiastic support of his staff.  Partnering with the Florida Department of Children and Families and Eckerd Community Alternatives to identify the children to participate in the event, Frank identified over 13,000 children that fit the criteria for his event.  Miles of Smiles for Kids an entirely charitable endeavor, was born.

The event as envisioned by Zaitshik will encompass 25 amusement rides, food stands and games for the children.  The cost of rides, food and prizes will be entirely underwritten by Zaitshik  and Wade Shows; there will be absolutely no cost to the participants or their supporting agencies. 

As word of the event grew, others in the industry lent their support.  The world famous High Flying Pages Circus, Miami Magician of the Year Lance Gifford, the Banana Derby featuring monkeys riding dogs, musician Dennis Lee, the Sandlofer Family's Wild West Show and Wolf Show and Vincent Von Duke and his thrilling Lion and Tiger Show all agreed to perform free of charge all weekend long!

In just a few short months, Miles of Smiles for Kids grew into the largest event of its kind in the state will have a positive impact upon the lives of tens of thousands of children during the holiday season.  Zaitshik hopes the memory of this event, produced just for kids, will last a lifetime. 

An added benefit of this undertaking has been the participation of Zaitshik's daughter Marina in the project.  Marina is a senior in high school and has taken a keen interest in the charity project.  Father and daughter have attended planning meetings together, reviewed marketing materials and had the opportunity to work together as a family to benefit less fortunate families in the Tampa area.

The event received a great honor recently when the City of Tampa proclaimed December 14th Miles Of Smiles for Kids Day.

Strates ShowsAnother great family carnival operation is Strates Shows and the family was well represented in Las Vegas with E. James Strates heading his family's contingent.  This was Mr. Strates' first visit to Vegas in several years.  Son Jimmy was married just the week before in Las Vegas to wife Monica.  Also at the show were Jay Strates and Assistant General Manager Pal Fontana. 

Mr. Strates' video interview with MCW was posted last week and his storied history in the industry, told in his own words, is inspiring and informative. 

Jim Strates said the show had a "pretty good" season that began in Florida before moving north to work with Brian Schuman's Fair Productions at three events, the Hudson Valley Fair in Fishkill, NY, the Brookhaven Fair on Long Island and the Palisades Fair in West Nyack, NY.  The show also sent rides into the Meadowlands Fair for their independent midway under the direction of John Strates. 

After July 4th. The show played its regular fair route, visiting Middletown, NY for the Orange County Fair, the Chemung County Fair in Elmira, NY, the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, NY and the New York State Fair over Labor Day in Syracuse, NY.

The show then heads south to Danville, VA and on to the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem, NC where rain on many of the days "took the edge off."  When the sun came out, the crowds were large but not enough to make up for all the rain.

Next on the route is the Georgia-Carolina State Fair in Augusta, GA where the crowds were at record or near-record levels.  In Tallahassee, at the North Florida Fair, the fair added an extra day on Veteran's Day Monday and the carnival achieved a record ride gross.

During the IAFE convention, the show was getting ready for their annual Winter Wonderland event in Waterford Lakes, FL where general manager George Weston produces the event.  The event runs through early January. 

Key personnel for Strates Shows includes brothers Jim, John and Jay, general manager George Weston, asst. gm  Pal Fontana, Brad Thomas, electrician Walter Gould, Bob Miller, and trainmaster Stevie Ianni who has a Level II NAARSO certification.

In their winterquarters in Orlando, the show has five certified welders and large shop facility on 50 acres.  The show is working on refurbishing their Huss Pirate which will include the back scenery wall.  They are also weighing several new LED lighting projects.  Fontana said the shop facility is "the finest I have ever worked in" and he was exuberant about the work going on there.

The Strates family said they had purchased two new Hampton rides for 2013.  They  will be  spending the offseason evaluating new purchases and new approaches to their business such as the newly implemented cashless ticketing system which has been such a big success for the show.

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