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By Herb Heap

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MCW member Herb Heap visited the West Virginia and combined North Carolina/South Carolina meetings to report on developments there. Herb took lots of pictures and got some great new information for our readers. Pictures from the meetings can be found in the MCW Photo Galleries or through the links below:
North & South Carolina Fair Meeting Photos (2007)
West Virginia Fair Meeting Photos (2007)

The West Virginia Fairs and Festivals President is Gary Bolyard from the county fair in Independence, WV. In the exhibit hall, Myers and Gambill's Amusements both had booths.

The North/South Carolina combined meeting was also well attended. Joan Long is retiring as Executive Director of the North Carolina Association Of Agricultural Fairs after many years, to be replaced by Bonnie Holloman.

Jonathan Brooks and his inspectors from the NC Dept. Of Labor were also on hand. They reported they had inspected over 7000 devices this past year and the NC State Fair had the largest midway in North America. North Carolina is famous for their "100% inspection" law requiring all rides to be 100% to manufacturer's specifications.

Bill Edmondson, the new manager of the Cleveland County Fair is the outgoing President of the NC Association of Agricultural Fairs. He is being replaced by Skip Watkins of the Cape Fear Fair and Expo in Wilmington, NC.

On the South Carolina side, Ed Hudson of the Sumter County Fair is the incoming President, replacing Joe Bolchoz of the Coastal Carolina Fair in Ladson, SC (just outside Charleston) The Coastal Carolina Fair is run by the Exchange Club as is the largest all-volunteer fair in the United States, drawing over 200,000 annually. Also present from the fair and in the South Carolina hospitality suite were Jerry Pitts and Sammy Brown.

The Coastal Carolina Fair has had Amusements Of America on the midway since the early 1960's. The show, owned by the five Vivona brothers was represented at the meeting by Phil, Dominic and Dominic Jr. Phil reported that the show had signed the Onslow County Fair in Jacksonville, NC, and the Greenwood County Fair in Greenwood, SC. I asked the Vivonas about the rumors they would be returning to Macon for the Georgia State Fair, but they said no information would be forthcoming until after the Georgia fair meeting at the end of the month. In addition to the Coastal Carolina Fair, the Vivonas play the Sumter County Fair, the Eastern Carolina Agricultural Fair in Florence and the Union County Fair in Union, SC. In North Carolina, they play the Rocky Mount Agricultural Fair as well as the fair in Henderson, NC where they own and operate the fairgrounds.

I also caught up with the Western Carolina State Fair group from Aiken, South Carolina where Belle City Amusements provides the midway for the fair. Sam Thompson, Warren Lucas, Mary Wolf, Alan Gregory and Kari Sarka were all in attendance. They reported they have a new 1800 square foot restroom on the midway and a new roadfront digital messageboard.

In the exhibitors hall I caught up with many showmen. Bob Commerford, owner of the world famous Commerford Petting Zoo was on hand to see his many friends and clients.

I bumped into Les "Corky" Powers and Charlie Belknap of Powers great American Midways, fresh from a great appearance at the North Carolina State Fair.

Harold Fera and Avery Wheelock of Rockwell Amusements also had a booth at the show. Harold announced that he had purchased a Street Fighter and a Wacky Worm for the 2007 season, two great new additions to the show.

The combined NC and SC convention will be in Myrtle Beach at the Kingston Plantation Embassy Suites next year. MCW will have dates and information posted as the date approaches.

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