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IISF Trade Show - Friday Highlights
Powers Midways purchases KMG Inversion; Modern Midways purchases ARM Rock Star


By Ron Weber

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

Day four of the IISA Trade Show in Gibsonton was unfortunately a wet and colder one.  The rains lingered most of the day and the temperatures dropped about ten degrees from previous days.  Despite the weather, which many from the north were only too happy to have, a hearty group of buyers came and made deals.

Powers Great American Midways purchases KMG Inversion for 2014 Delivery

Corky Powers of Powers' Great American Midways could be seen at Gibtown every day.  On Thursday, he made his third purchase of the show and it was a big one.  PGAM will be the proud owner of a new KMG Inversion.
The Inversion stands almost 80 feet tall and has three sweeps that carry 12 passengers high in the air.  Like a next generation Fireball, the ride swings up but, unlike the Fireball, the ride swings completely over the top in a 360-degree motion.

The ride travels on only one trailer and set up is reported to only take 4 hours with 2 men.

Powers received the last production slot for the season and expects to take delivery before the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.  In addition to the Inversion, he also made the purchase of a Spin Zone, delivered to the show, and a new Cliffhanger. 

Modern Midways adds Rock Star and Dalton Motorcycle Jump for 2014

Another show owner making purchases and taking delivery of new equipment is Rob Briggs of Modern Midways.  Briggs has two new rides in the pipeline, an A.R.M. Rock Star that will be delivered next week and he purchased a Hampton Motorcycle Jump which was delivered just before the show.

Briggs said the show is open in Florida with two units every week.  They play Catholic Churches, city celebrations and festivals, mostly in South Florida.  In May, the show heads to Alabama and Georgia for a few stops before heading home to Chicago for the summer, starting in June. 

There the show plays festivals, church sponsored dates and a couple of county fairs including the Kankakee County Fair where they just received a new 5-year contract extension. 

Contract extensions were also received from the Tennessee Valley Expo and the fair in Huntsville, AL.  

After a string of fall fairs in Alabama, the show returns to South Florida for another winter of dates.  Brian Morrisey, the show's general agent, books all the Florida events. 

Morrissey began booking the show in Florida 14 - 15 years ago.  Briggs first started going south as an independent with Brook Evans' show when Morrissey, long-time friend of Brigg's father Frank, contacted him about some Florida venues.  Briggs first booked only three rides then increased to 10 and now he brings about 40 rides with two units to South Florida and spends a good part of his season there.

Robert Briggs has increased the size of the show from about 35 rides to 45 rides, modernizing the company's inventory as he grows.  In 2014, Mike Robb will join Modern Midways as the second unit manager in Chicago.  Briggs said Robb sold his Fun City Shows to join him and run a unit year-round.  He will be booking some equipment on his unit as well. 

In 2013, Briggs followed his friend Harlan Bast as President of the Miami Showmen's Association.  Briggs said he continued Bast's efforts to improve camaraderie among club members. Briggs initiated efforts to bring more people to the club and he streamlined the club's financial operations.

Funds raised by the Miami Showmen's Club help support scholarships, the annual Christmas Party, maintenance of the club and preserves the history of the oldest showmen's club in Florida.

Modern Midways is truly a family effort.  Brigg's brother Eddie runs concessions for the company and brother Frankie runs the commissary and concessions as well.

Avery Wheelock - new distributor for Organo Gold Coffee
Also stopping by the MCW to provide us with some coffee was Avery Wheelock, recently retired from the carnival business.  Avery is a distributor for Organo Gold coffee and he sells it through his website at
Wheelock said he was looking for more free time with his family and was tired of the constant travel and long hours on the road.  He was interested in being his own boss again when he was approached by a fellow carnival worker about Organo Gold.  Wheelock said the coffee company has quite a few distributors in the carnival industry, including a couple of show owners.

Wheelock joined the Chamber of Commerce in Plant City where his business is based.  His family also owns 20 efficiency houses in Plant City that he manages.
Wheelock, a Level - III NAARSO inspector, will also be working part-time conducting inspections for clients around the country.

Wheelock's father, Avery Sr.  owns and operates Wheelock Rides in NY State.  The company moves 15 - 18 rides every week and plays firemen's carnivals and festivals.  Avery Sr. is joined by son-in-law Corey Ward in the management of the show. 

Avery's brother Alan is a concessionaire and owner of Main Events.  The company sells popcorn, pizza, funnel cakes and ice cream according to Wheelock.

Concessionaire Bill Wilson joints Big Rock Amusements for 2014

Another former NY-area showmen at the convention was Bill Wilson, now a GA and MI showmen with Matt and Kelly McDonagh's Big Rock Amusements.
After helping Robert Briggs for a winter in Florida, Wilson took a proposition with Big Rock, running show food trailers and booking his pizza.
Wilson has been in the business "all my life", with the exception of his time spent at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Wilson's dad bought a hot dog stand at the Erie County Fair in 1957 and began traveling a little with Ray Sanford of Zabel Amusements in western NY.  During the 60's and 70's the family traveled in the Buffalo area before Wilson left for college to study Physical Education. 

Wilson said he had a one-year stint with the Chicago Bears where he played the pre-season as a defensive tackle before suffering an injury and being placed on the "taxi-squad".
Wilson returned home and worked as a concessionaire before his family founded Empire Rides and Games in 1990.  The show played a route in western NY and PA.  In the fall, Wilson would head south with Brook Evans and bring 7 or 8 rides and then continued on to Florida for more independent bookings.

After Empire Rides, Wilson worked for Dana Peck of Midway Rides of Utica for eight years as well as Farrow Shows under Tony Diaz.

Wilson is a lifer in the business.

Stay tuned for our wrap-up article with a list of purchases from the 2014 IISA Trade Show and Extravaganza.'s Coverage on the 2014 IISF Trade Show:
Show Preview  |  Tuesday Highlights |  Wednesday Highlights |   Thursday Highlights  |  Saturday / Show Conclusion News  |  Trade Show Photo Gallery

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