Day four of the IISA Trade Show and Extravaganza opened with a big announcement from the Museum of the American Carnival and the OABA. The OABA's Hall of Fame will now be permanently housed at the Museum in Gibsonton with financial support from the OABA.
About one and a half years ago, the Hall of Fame Committee approached the museum's Board of Directors about permanently housing the Hall of Fame in the museum. Beau Pugh and Chuck Waterman were then president of the club and curator of the museum, respectively.
During the trade show in 2012, Pugh gave Tom Gaylin, Steve Swika and Joe Skerbeck with the Hall of Fame Committee a tour of the museum and they again spoke about the prospect of working together, laying the groundwork for future discussions.
In October of 2012, the OABA drafted a proposal to the museum's board of directors. Just two weeks ago, Mike Wood, Mike Lauther and Jeanne McDonagh of the OABA struck a deal to house the Hall of Fame at the museum in a joint venture.
The two groups haven't yet decided how the displays will eventually be presented but at a minimum, there will be pictoral displays with a possible interactive electronic component for each entry. The Hall of Fame section will be located in the front, southwest corner of the museum, according to Gaylin. The key for the OABA, he says, is to raise the money to support the project.
To that end, the OABA has launched a Founder's capital campaign and 12 initial pledges of $2,500 each have kicked off the initiative. The OABA will solicit previous inductees and their families for additional financial support.
Gaylin said new curator Doc Rivera, along with Ivan and Tom Arnold, have been a great help in putting the deal together Beau Pugh helped to initiate.
The OABA is hoping for a grand opening of the Hall of Fame at the 2015 trade show. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the OABA. There will be a public induction at the museum as well as the formal induction during the OABA,s annual meeting.
AMERICAN TRAVELING SHOWS
Rick Larson started American Traveling Shows in 1978. He started in the business with a Horse Race Derby and later managed a unit for Sam Johnston's Midway of Fun before starting the show with 8 rides. His initial lineup included Ferris Wheel, kiddie rides, funhouse and Tilt-A-Whirl.
Larson now operates approximately 28 rides and plays the Central Valley area of northern California. He plays three county fairs, churches and celebrations. His season runs from mid-February though the 1st of November.
Many times he breaks up into two units and other times he operates with one unit. The show carries a Kamikaze, Sun Wheel. Dragon Spin Coaster and the newly refurbished Rampage on display in Gibsonton at the Wisdom booth.
Larson always loved the Rampage and said one has never been to California before. He came up with an idea for turning the seats and took his ideas to Victor Wisdom of Wisdon Industries. Wisdom developed the engineering and the rest of the design for the ride and the finished product is a beautiful piece, loading two cars at a time instead of the traditional one.
Larson is a bit of a builder himself, having built a boat ride from scratch and made refurbishments to his equipment. He said he came up with the idea of cutting the Sizzler trailer down to 28, from 32, fifteen years ago when he owned the ride and wanted to make moves even easier.
Like a 40-miler on steroids, Skellly's Amusements is a major operator in South Jersey, Delaware and Eastern PA. The show carries 22 rides in one unit from April until Columbus Day.
Michael Skelly's father started the show in 1956 and operated until 1995 when he sold the show to Michael and partner Tom O'Connor. After a short transition, the elder Skelly moved to Ft. Myers, FL and Michael and his partner were on their own. Michael's three children also help with the show when they are available.
As a local show, all of Skelly's help returns home each night and comes back to work each day. Skelly has three 15-passenger vans that pick each employee up at their homes and transports them to and from work. Two vans transport Philadelphia workers and a third van transports South Jersey workers. The workers have a season identical to the show's season with the exception of a few who work year round in the show's winterquarters.
While he gets a better caliber of help from staying local, his average wage is higher because he has to compete with local businesses such as McDonald's. Also the costs of operating the vans each day to go back and forth to worker's houses can get rather expensive. After a full season on the road, most of the workers collect unemployment after a 28 or 29 week season.
The 22-ride show mainly consists of one trailer pieces that can be easily moved. Skelly said the show typically goes up and down in 3-1/2 to 4 hours. They tearn down Sunday and go back up on Monday, ready to operate for the next week. Four semi drivers and 7-8 pickups move the show over the road.
Skelly plays about 50% churches and the balance county fairs and sponsored events. Operating in NJ, they have to transition some of their games to a "prize every time" setup, adjusting rules, sizes of prizes and price to play to comply with New Jersey law. Skelly also runs a small game rental business for non-profit groups he works with in New Jersey.
2011 was a tough weather year for Skelly and they are still feeling the year's economic effects. For the first time this year, he decided to close winterquarters for several weeks instead of employing eight people as he normally does, full time, year round.
Skelly hopes a good run of weather in 2013 will help get his ship back on track and moving full steam ahead once again.