On Wednesday, December 11, the SLA Trade Show had wound down and the final day of the IAFE Trade Show had the spotlight. The show ended early, at 2:30, so many people were scrambling to make last minute deals, visit vendors they had not seen yet and connect with people they thought they had plenty of time to see when the show started!
Harlan Bast of Hildebrand Rides was found at the trade show, talking to events and recounting the season just concluded. Bast, for the second year in a row, brought his equipment to Myrtle Beach, SC where he runs an amusement park. The park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and the show puts about 30 pieces on the grounds in South Carolina, according to Bast.
Once the season is completed, Hildebrand Rides goes back on the road as a carnival, carrying more equipment, beefing up to 40 or so rides. Their first stop is the Cumberland County Fair in Fayetteville, NC before heading to some fairs in Florida. They play the fairs in Callahan and Lake City before embarking on a church festival route in the Sunshine State that Bast has played for years. In the Spring they play fairs in Live Oak and Starke as well as another solid route of festivals before returning to the amusement park in May.
Bast had a bit of big news when he announced he has signed the Broward County Fair in Florida for 2013/14. Bast said the fair is moving to Pembroke Pines after losing their current location and he will be a financial partner in the operation of the fair. Hildebrand will have 50 rides on the midway in Broward and he hopes after a scaled-down version of the event in December, that it will resume in 2014 bigger and better than ever.
Mike Fanning of the Western Carolina State Fair in Aiken, SC is another person who has his hands in a few different ends of the business. He is a long time board member of the fair, starting when the fair was run by the Jaycees.
Fanning said the fair is now run by a foundation, begun 5 years ago by some former Jaycees. He remains an active participant in the event.
According to Fanning, 2013 was a good year for the fair and they are currently working with Reithoffer Shows for the 3rd straight year to provide the midway. Prior to Reithoffer, the fair used Belle City Amusements for a few years after one year with Pugh Shows and before that it was Reithoffer Shows for about as long as anyone can remember. The re-signing of Reithoffer brought things back full circle and the fair is glad to be back with the show, hopefully for many years to come.
Fanning told Carnivalwarehouse that for the last decade, he has been growing his event-related business, All Star Tents and Events. Fanning's company rents everything from tents to wedding supplies and he counts among his clients the South Carolina State Fair as well as many other fairs and festivals.
The trade show floor is filled with ticketing companies, fairgrounds consulting firms, carnivals and lots and lots of entertainers. From big name music acts to grounds acts and entertainment, the IAFE convention is one of the best places to learn about different entertainment and what works for events around the country.
The trade show aisleways are filled with entertainers who are either represented by agents to help with booking or they hawk their talents themselves, contesting for the eye of those roaming the aisles in search of the next great act.
Karen Quest of Giddy Up Productions is one person that does a bit of both. Quest is the self-described "Chief Operating Cowgirl" of the company where she is an artist and representative.
On the artist side, Quest performs in her Cowgirl Tricks act, a unique, fun-filled Vaudeville-style western comedy show complete with Trick Roping, Whip Cracking and music. The family show has been touring, mostly in the western part of the U.S, for the past 16 years. Quest got the idea for the show after working in the circus, where she received clown training.
Her tour takes her to California, Arizona, Montana and Washington where she plays the State Fair.
On the Giddy Up Productions side, Quest works with other like-minded family acts to bring entertainment to fairs and events. Quest said a lot of the other entertainers love to perform but "they don't like to do what it takes to get the work". This is the area where the personable and energetic Quest excels.
As a performer, she knows that side of the business so she can represent her artists with knowledge and experience few others have. For Quest, being an artist and agent is a win-win situation.
Dexter Osborn and his Grizzly Experience have been touring the fair circuit for the past five years. Osborn has one of the only Grizzly shows on the road and the educational show has gained a lot of interest from fairs and events the last several years.
Osborn turned his passion for animals into a livelihood.
Starting out as a volunteer at the Miami Metro Zoo where his aunt worked, Osborn, who came from a broken home, found a deep love of exotic wildlife. He became a tour guide at Native Village in Florida where he eventually began to do demonstrations with 12 to 13 foot alligators.
His talent with these creatures became evident and he later worked at Seminole Okalee Village at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, FL, becoming the park's manager. Osborn met his future wife and mother-in-law during an alligator wrestling show at the park.
With the help of his wife and after acquiring some animals, Osborn quit his job and decided to venture out on his own with his Grizzly Bear Tonk. The show has played events such as the Virginia State Fair, the Pasco County Fair, the Collier County Fair in Naples, FL, the Bangor State Fair in ME and he just concluded a run at the Fair at Fenway South in Ft. Myers, FL.
The educational show now features three bears and he just added a Karelian Bear Dog which he will be incorporating into the show this year.