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IISF Trade Show - Day 2 Highlights
Ward Hall to be on American Pickers


By Ron Weber

Rides 4U - NEW AND USED RIDES Farrow Finance Rides 4U - LED LIGHTING PACKAGES Farrow Finance

Day 2 of the IISF Trade Show kicked off at the grounds in Gibsonton.  There has been quite a bit of buzz about the Rampage in the Wisdom Industries booth.  The ride is a refurbished version of the Watkins ride with colorful seats, LED lighting and new over the shoulder restraints, among other improvements.

Victor Wisdom said the refurbishment, done for Rick Larson, has been a challenge. He had to learn the ride and how it was engineered, think of how he would have done things differently and learn from the experience to produce a better model. 

Wisdom Jungle TwistWisdom said he plans to build new versions of the ride after working with the older model.  He is looking at several improvements and believes the ride will be a very affordable, high impact piece for the midway.  "The ride is easy to set up, it only takes about 2 1/2 hours and all the work is done on the grounds", he said. 

The Rampage has 16 seats, holds 32 passengers and currently loads two tubs at a time.  The LED lights on the spokes and a backwall add to the beautiful presentation of the ride.  The Rampage stands about 55 feet in height.

Wisdom said he has been struck by all the people coming by with stories and memories about the ride.  He said the reaction to this piece has been as strong as any he has ever produced before and he is looking forward to completing some pending deals on building future models.

Wisdom Monster TrucksAlso on display in the Wisdom booth is the Monster Truck ride.  Wisdom said the ride has been a big success, grossing excellent money for a kiddie ride and impressing the kids with opportunity to ride in a large monster truck.  The ride simulates the hills and valleys of a monster truck course.

The third ride in the Wisdom booth is the Jungle Twist, the newest version of the dragon coaster series.  The ride has cars that spin around and can accommodate adults and children.  The ride can give older children and adults a thrill from the cars spinning, yet it is still tame enough for the younger set.  Wisdom has eight versions of the ride on the road.




John Tolve is now a Florida operator.  After many years of working in both New Jersey and Florida, Tolve decided to make the move a couple of years ago and become a full-time Florida resident.  He works Florida from September through May, filling a void for small churches and city celebrations. 

Tolve Presentations has about a dozen rides but books additional equipment into some of their larger events.  He still has a few dates under contract in New Jersey but he largely subcontracts those events.  Last year he spent the summer in Tennessee but is looking at several other options for the summer of 2013.


On the heels of Sam Johnston's appearance on Shipping Wars, Chris Christ and Ward Hall will be starring in an upcoming edition of American Pickers.  Show hosts Mike and Frank visited the duo at their home to tape a recent episode of the show.

When producers called the IISA club in Gibsonton about possible locations for the show, they turned the caller over the Christ and Hall.   Christ told the show he was not interested in participating unless there was a way they could highlight the Museum of The American Carnival, located on the club grounds.  They devised a plan to include the museum and the dates of the show were set. 

First an advance crew visited their home to look over the objects they would be picking during the show.  Christ said the crew only spent about 20 minutes on site, just to verify that there might be some valuables on site and the location worth shooting. 

On January 17th, the show was set to shoot.  First a helicopter came and filmed the grounds from the air.  Then, about 8:30 am Frank and Mike arrived with their crew.  They greeted Christ and Hall at their front door and looked around the porch area where some objects were stored.  Next they moved on to the garage and a couple of storage semis. 

Christ said they had an opportunity to talk about their history in the business and experiences throughout the years. 

Frank and Mike eventually picked a 50 year-old backdrop for a milk can game painted by Fred Johnson, whom Christ called the most collectible banner artist in the industry.  After a bit of negotiation, they settled on a price of $1,500.  The pair also picked a Tate's Devil's Child, a handmade briefcase from 1973, and an Evans set spindle among other various and sundry items.

The museum tie-in then came when Frank and Mike took the Devil's Child to museum curator Doc Rivera for appraisal the next day.  They talked some about the museum and it will eventually make an appearance on national television. 

The airdate for the show, featuring Chris Christ, Ward Hall and the Museum of the American Carnival, should air sometime in mid-May or early June. 

Ward Hall and Chris Christ were also active recently producing a side show seminar in the Tampa area.  The venue for this presentation was the Magic Emporium on Gunn Highway.  The store has a theatre adjacent to it that was used for the seminar.

Approximately 15 people spent three days learning about side shows and their history from experts in the area.

"It was a very interesting experience", said Christ.  "I expected a younger crowd interested in learning the business but we got a diverse group of professionals", he added.  Attendees included a doctor, a nurse, an attorney and Sharon and Harold McFeely, former show owners visiting from Greenville, SC.

The first day covered side show history, how some acts were performed and the difference in the business from the time Christ and Hall broke in until modern day.  The next day, individual lectures were presented by Hall, Christ, Johnny Meah, current show banner painter, and Dick Johnson.

Saturday, the group came to the museum and later attended a presentation of a live sideshow on the fairgrounds.  Saturday night the public was invited for the side show presentation.

Christ said the event was advertised online, mostly on Facebook, Twitter and in side show newsletters.  It is a seminar they hope to present again next year.

CLICK HERE to view the 2013 IISF Trade Show Photo Gallery

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