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IISF Trade Show - Thursday Highlights


By Ron Weber

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Day three of the IISA Trade Show in Gibtown started wet and rainy.  Rains began the night before and stayed past opening along with an overcast sky.  The weather was also not welcome for the Florida State Fair, also opening today for its 2015 run. By afternoon, the skies had lightened and the sun began to peek out.  Crowds grew as the day progressed as admission was free for members of industry associations such as the OABA.

In the back of the show at Len Soled's Rides 4 U booth is a new Drop N' Twist ride, a family sized drop tower made by SBF/Visa. 

The ride was actually sold by chance at the IAAPA show in Orlando this past November.  As the show was winding down, Canadian show owner Jacques Vallee was browsing around, not intending to make any purchases, when he spied some children riding the Drop N' Twist and having a blast.  Seeing the delight in the children's eyes, he asked Soled about the ride said he might be interested in purchasing if Soled could make him a good deal.  Soled, being the master salesman that he is, was able to make a deal and agreed to display the ride here at the show in Gibsonton.

Vallee owns Beauce Carnaval along with his sister, Paule.  The show was started in 1953 by their father when he built himself a kiddie airplane ride.  The show still owns the ride but it is not currently on the road.

Beauce Carnaval is based in Ville de Saint Georges, Quebec.  The show is truly a family affair.  In addition to partners Jacques and Paule, children and extended family include Jeff, Veronica, Charles-Eric, Veronica and Jerome.  The cousins work well together, covering such important areas as ride maintenance, marketing, booking and accounting.

The show, which carries 50 rides with the new purchase, begins its season at the end of April and closes at the end of September.  They operate two units for most of the year and work about a total of 26 weeks.

Dates include both fairs and still dates with a 50 - 50 mix said Paule.  Major events include a balloon festival, Quebec City Fair and Three Rivers Fair.  


Luna - Park is a Polish company exhibiting for the first time at the IISA trade show.  The company actually began as a carnival over 90 years ago, bringing rides and shows to Eastern Europe.  As rides developed and became more sophisticated, the company began manufacturing some of their own rides for use on the show.  

Beginning in the 1970s the show started a manufacturing arm and other carnivals noticed the quality and reliability of the company's products.  Soon inquiries were made from other companies for Luna - Park to build rides for their use.  

As the company expanded, so did their product line and sales expanded further and further from their home country of Poland.  Sales have been made all over Europe, to the Middle East and this year, their products reached US shores.  Skerbeck Entertainment Group purchased a children's carousel from the company during IAAPA and the ride is on display in Gibsonton.

According to Izabela Zamajska of Luna-Park, the US is an important market for the future of the company.  She has opened an office in England and they are now making their presence felt in the US.  The company currently has six different rides available for sale here: the Children's Carousel, Scooter, Circus Train, Dragon Coaster, Miami and Flying Elephant ride that both adults and children can experience together.

Zamajska has high hopes for the Elephant ride, she believes the control kids have over the cars, both in the up and down motion and in operation of sound and lights will be very popular as it is in Europe. The ride has 10 sweeps and holds up to 20 people.  Set up takes a 2-man crew about 5 hours and the ride is transported by one trailer.

The company has seen quite a bit of interest at the trade show and they are hoping to close some deals by show's end.

Zamajska said Luna-Park still operates carnivals in Poland and the three families own a combined 50 rides.  She said that unlike Germany and some other European countries, carnivals in Poland operate in a similar was as they do in the US, traveling as a unit to a fair or shopping center.  Rides on the carnival do not use tickets but rather a plastic token system.  Games are not utilized as they are here in the States and only a handful of skill games are present.  Food is also very limited, Zamajska said the company only carries a cotton candy-type stand and does not operate regular food trailers.  

She said that because the rides are first developed and tested on the carnival side of their business, Luna-Park is in a unique position to stand behind the design and quality of their equipment.  After all, they own and operate the same rides the seller receives.

Inside the building, Nick Verina of Berk Concession Supply was very excited about the company's new lighted items. Lighted jars, guitars and 3-way Alien light-ups are all available this year.  Like a combination cup and light up toy, they have been a big hit so far.  

Verina said the company's environmentally-friendly Vegware products, which they distribute exclusively in the US, has been very popular and they have expanded their product line.  A cup made from corn was just one of the items in the Berk booth.

Other popular new items from Berk are 16 and 32 oz. clear top lemonade cups and the baseball helmet snow cone holders.

New tin cups have also taken off, coming in 16 and 32 oz sizes.  Especially popular is the ability to use a custom logo that can be prominently printed on the cup.

The company also rolled out a new look for its "Fun at The Fair" designs.  The cartoon-ish scene depicts plenty of ways to have fun at the fair and if you look closely you can see company President Robert Berk, his wife and children in the middle of the fun.

Thursday marked the first night of the 2015 Florida State fair and the forecast is calling for clear skies for Friday.

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