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Deggeller Attractions has solid year; show adds new rides

12/9/2013

By Don Muret

Photo courtesy of Sherry Band

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Deggeller Attractions' season is winding down in its home state of Florida after the show upgraded its operation with several attractions this year. In late November, the show concluded its 2013 route playing the Volusia County Fair in Deland and wrapping it up with the St. Helen's Harvest Festival in Vero Beach for a weekend date prior to Thanksgiving.  Over the past year, the Stuart, Fla.-based show bought a half-dozen new rides: a Schwartzkopf Wildcat coaster, an ARM Vertigo, Zamperla Rockin' Tug, a Huss Topspin,  a two-story Funny Fright fun house and a Mulligan Sea Ray. The coaster came from a amusement park on the New Jersey pier that was swapping out equipment and needed space, said Andy Deggeller, the carnival's general manager.

In addition, the show finally got its Wild Mouse operational this year after purchaPhoto By Sherry Bandsing it several years ago. The piece sat idle for so long carnival officials had to redo the brakes and safety system to get it functional, Deggeller said  The coaster was purchased from an amusement park in South Carolina called South of the Border and debuted on Deggeller's route at the York Fair in September. The Giant Wheel was also improved with an LED light package.

The Deggeller family spent a little more this year on ride equipment than usual, but it's the old adage that you have to spend money to make money, Deggeller said. For the most part, it's been a good season with decent weather in the summer. The brutally hot temperatures that can kill events in July and August in the state of Virginia where Deggeller camps out for several weeks weren't evident this year, he said.

The carnival was been happy to see the State Fair of Virginia get resurrected after event promoter Mark Lovell with Universal Fairs purchased the state fairgrounds and other assets for $5.3 million in 2012. The event had been in limbo after filing for bankruptcy liquidation in December 2011.

Last year, Universal Fairs partnered with the Virginia Farm Bureau and this year, the Farm Bureau became the sole owner and ran a 2013 state fair that returned to its roots with a huge agricultural component, Deggeller said. The carnival set up about 50 rides and attractions at the Meadow Event Park. This was the fifth year the fair was held there after relocating from its old location at the Richmond International Speedway.

The show was big enough to divide the lot in two at the fairgrounds, separating kiddieland from adult rides. All told, Deggeller Attractions has provided the midway at the event for more than 30 years spanning both sites.

Help is not a problem for the carnival. The show gets a solid number of seasonal workers that return every year and supplements that crew with international employees. It's about a 50-50 split between Americans and those working on temporary visas, Deggeller said.

To conserve fuel on the road and on the lot, the show is doing what it can to cut hours of operation during slow periods of the day, he said. The carnival isn't opening as early as it used to as it works with fairs and special events to reduce costs.

Deggeller Attractions is active on social media and recently introduced a mobile version of its website, one of the few carnivals to have made that conversion in technology. The show would like to introduce a free-standing mobile application but it's still on the drawing board, Deggeller said.

Deggeller's wife Jamie works in the office and is responsible for maintaining quality labor, he said. Andy's parents, Don and Kathy, are still active with the show. Andy and Jamie welcomed a new son Garrett in July during the Salem (Va.) Fair. They have another boy, 3-year-old Gabriel.

Andy's sister Heidi Elsperman, manages the show's Facebook page and her husband Cliff works for the carnival. Jason and Angela Floyd have traveled for eight years with Deggeller booking rides and games. They own a Technical Park Extreme, which is similar to a Freakout, in addition to a Majestic Wiggle Worm and a Ross Owens dark ride.

The show's ride superintendent is Scott MacNeill, a key piece of the operation. He was responsible for taking the Riptide to the independent midways at the Wisconsin and Minnesota state fairs.

Deggeller's other big spots are the Arkansas State Fair, Maryland State Fair and the York (Pa.) Fair.

Last month, Andy Deggeller made the 40-minute drive south from Deland to Orlando for the annual IAAPA convention at the Orange County Convention Center.  He's a member of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association and was in attendance for a board meeting as part of the event.  This week, the Deggellers are present at the IAFE/SLA convention in Las Vegas.

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