Thursday, February 6th, the third day of the IISA Trade Show and Extravaganza was cloudy and overcast and there were a few periods of light rain and drizzle. Despite the less than perfect weather, crowds seemed to increase at the grounds and many exhibitors were reporting good sales numbers or at least interest on the part of buyers.
Florida State Fair Opens
Thursday also marked the opening of the 110th Florida State Fair. The fair is filled with rides and attractions from independents all over the country and it is always a great place to see what's new and different and how these products may fair on the midway. The feature ride this year is Wade Shows' huge new coaster, the Comet II, which is transported on 11 trailers. The media opportunity with the coaster on Wednesday was canceled due to bad weather. Wade Shows purchased the ride from Jerry Murphy's Spectacular Attractions and then began a refurbishment process to bring the ride to top-notch condition. With the process complete, the ride makes it state fair debut in Tampa. For photos from the fair, click here.
Ronnie Turner - Show Owner, Fair Manager, and Concessionaire
Back at the trade show, there were quite a few fair managers, concessionaires and carnival owners coming to browse, conduct business dealings or just catch up on news. Most people fall into one of the categories, Ronnie Turner is a rare example of a person who falls traverses all three.
Turner manages the Lee County Fair in Sanford, North Carolina, he owns a small carnival, Fun Rides and he operates food concessions during the year.
The Lee County Fair has been played by Jeff Brady's Playworld Amusements for the past nine years. Turner said he enjoyed an outstanding relationship with the Brady family and the fair showed steady growth. During the fair this year, Brady came to Turner to let him know he would not be bringing Playworld out again in 2014. The news at first devastated Turner as it seemed like he would be searching hard to find a carnival of the same size and caliber as Playworld to continue the fair's steady growth.
One day Turner got a call from John Strates of Strates Shows. Strates was calling about the possibility of brining the carnival to the Lee County Fair. He said it would fit the Strates' route after the New York State Fair and before the show moves into the Danville/Pittsylvania County Fair in Ringgold, VA.
Thinking at first they might be talking about a smaller unit, Turner was pleasantly surprised to find he would be getting iconic Strates rides such as the Dutch Giant Wheel, the double-decker carousel and the Fireball.
With a new midway the size of Strates Shows, Turner plans to promote the fair "harder than ever". He believes it is an opportunity for the fair to move way beyond where they have ever been.
When Turner is not running the Lee County Fair, he can be found running his family's company, Fun Rides and Events. The small carnival is growing and now has a lineup of 12 rides including a Merry Go Round, Tempest, Roll-O-Plane and Musical Chairs. The company mostly plays festivals, church dates and city celebrations but they also have a couple of county fairs including the Chatham County Fair in NC.
On the concession side, Turner operates an ice cream stand and kettle corn stand, mostly at the events he plays with Fun Rides and Events. As to games, Turner has not yet conquered that area of the business, he books friends with independent games when his events require them.
New Spinning Bumper Cars from Amusement Products
One attraction getting a lot of attention this year is the Spin Zone Bumper Cars by Amusement Products. The ride is near the rear of the midway at the show. The ride on display was made for Corky Powers' Powers Great American Midway and has eight vehicles. The ride was outfitted with a terrific array of LED lights by Denny's Electronics and looks fantastic at night.
The cars can fit an adult and child in each vehicle with the "buddy seat". The ride height requirement for the attraction is only 36".
The company bills the attraction as a ride and game. The cars each have targets on the side and when you bump the opponent's car on target area, it causes the car that is struck to spin in a circle with the operator unable to drive for a short period of time.
The ride also has a "chaos mode" that can be triggered by the operator. When this happens, all cars spin around at the same time and all operators lose control until the "chaos mode" ends.
The cars are electric and can run all day on just one charge.
The purchase price for the ride with sound, lights and eight cars is around $225,000, the 6-car model comes in at about $205,000.
While Amusement Products may not be a name you hear every day in the mobile amusement industry, they have been around since 1960 and are a leading producer of go-carts and tracks, bumper boats, batting cages and equipment and mini golf courses.
In fact the company is known for many innovations in the FEC industry. They introduced the first dual baseball/softball pitching machine, pioneered the wrap-around spring steel bumper to increase kart durability, created the first demand retrieval system for batting cages for increased capacity, developed the first commercial two-passenger go-kart and patented the first radio controlled go-kart track system.
In 2000, Amusement Construction, Co., Inc. was started to develop and build FECs from start to finish.
Amusement Products has been exhibiting at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) convention for many years and the Spin Zone was voted "Best New Product".
Over the years, carnival operators would ask company President "Dutch" Magrath if he could build a portable model of one attraction or another. For many years, the answer was no, but in the Spin Zone, they saw a product that was easily adaptable into a portable model.
Joel Cadwell and son Evan, who operate two parks in Virginia Beach Virginia and Nags Head, NC as well as a small carnival in Virginia, were taking a hard look at the ride for their facilities seeing the benefits of operating it at a resort park and then being able to take it on the road.
Stay tuned to carnivalwarehouse.com for more coverage of the IISA Trade Show and the Florida State Fair.
CarnivalWarehouse.com's Coverage on the 2014 IISF Trade Show:
Show Preview | Tuesday Highlights | Wednesday Highlights | Friday Highlights | Saturday / Show Conclusion News | Trade Show Photo Gallery