Brian's Schuman's vision has always been to bring quality fairs close to home. Since childhood, "home" for Schuman has been Long Island, New York. As its name implies, this region can be a "Long" way from such venues as the New York State Fair and Disney World.
After beginning Fair Productions in 1995, Schuman brought "some state and county-fair type events" to Long Island. First came the "Big A Fair" at Aqueduct and the Belmont Stakes Fair. Next came the Nassau Coliseum Fair and the Brookhaven Fair.
Success breeds succession. Springing into Summer 2015, Fair Productions just completed a three-for-three run of local fairs: Hudson Valley Fair in Fishkill, New York (May 1st - 17th), Brookhaven Fair in Long Island (May 22nd - June 14th) and Palisades Fair in West Nyack, New York (June 19th - July 5th).
Hudson Valley Fair
Schuman explained that 2015 was Hudson Valley's "seventh year." A new person with "previous fair experience" had been hired, and "she was able to really go out and expand the community stage greatly." As a result, there were "full schedules of local entertainment, such as country music, rock music, and all kinds of styles" that the community embraced.
Other entertainment included the Fearless Flores Thrill Show (motorcycle daredevils), the Lance Gifford Illusion Show (comical magic), Fireworks, the Banana Derby (monkey jockeys riding dogs), Exotic Animal Zoo ("people really enjoyed the kangaroo"), and a Hypnotist.
Schuman continued, "The Hudson Valley Fair is at a minor league baseball stadium, so many families are used to going there for the games. We tap into that and do a lot of cross promotion with season-ticket holders to come to the fair for free on opening night."
"Because all three of our recent fairs were in commuter areas, we also did a lot with localized billboards and train-platform posters. That helped greatly at Hudson Valley, as we were up about 20 percent with both attendance and rides. Everything there was up this year."
Schuman stated, "Strates Shows did their usual super job with the carnival midway." The Fair website explains that Strates provided "a spectacular array of amusement rides ranging from high speed thrill rides for thrill seekers to tame rides for the little ones." These attractions included Orbiter, Happy Swing, Double Carousel, Fireball and Haunted Mansion.
Schuman also praised "a hot-dog eating contest with about 12 contestants that really filled the place up at each fair."
The "Three Big" weekend-only schedule was as follows: Fridays (5 p.m. to closing), Saturdays (noon to closing) and Sundays (noon to closing). This schedule nicely complemented the work and/or school schedules of many fairgoers.
Whereas Hudson Valley just celebrated its lucky seventh year, Brookhaven just celebrated its lucky fourteenth. Schuman exclaimed, "Fourteen years in a row! After all these years, the fair is now very ingrained in the community."
"There's over half-a-million people in the Brookhaven area, and we advertise to an even wider audience than that. Our campaign probably reaches a million-and-a-half people altogether. The main stage was booked quite a bit."
Schuman continued, "In Brookhaven, the physical area is much bigger than in the other two locations, so we are able to bring in a lot more rides and games from Strates Shows. Their Giant Wheel is a real crowd pleaser, and their LED light package is beautiful. We're also able to bring in a very large roller coaster and quite a few other Spectaculars."
"Strates Shows always does a great job, and this year Brookhaven turned out to be a really special event. We've made the fair look more festive by using carnival-theme music to set the tone as patrons come in from the parking lot. We've also added theatrical lighting to the entranceway and perimeter."
"We pick up some local food vendors at each location. In Brookhaven, a popular ice cream vendor comes every year, and we also have some great community-merchandise people."
Schuman summarized, "Brookhaven was also up about 20 percent this year. The teenagers loved the Spectaculars, and families loved the Kiddie Land. We had "Four Big Weekends" this year, all of which went really well."
"The train-station billboards and posters again drew in many commuters. We had 2-for-1 Admission Coupons, as well as Family Four Packs ('save over $40')."
Schuman explained, "This fair takes place at the Palisades Center Mall, one of the largest malls in the country. The fair is held in the commuter parking lot, where people leave their cars and take buses into Manhattan and elsewhere."
"This strategic location draws interest from a multitude of mall customers and employees. There are free fair passes and admission coupons in the stores, which are readily available to a steady stream of patrons."
Schuman recalled, "With all the grassroots marketing and community-stage activities, there's a real Americana feel to it all. It brings back that old-fashioned feeling from my own childhood."
Like the other two fairs, Palisades offered a host of exciting events. Included in its line-up were Lance Gifford's Magic & Illusion Show, a Las Vegas Hypnotist Show, a Huge Free Petting Zoo, the Fearless Flores Thrill Show ("as seen on America's Got Talent"), the Kangaroo Experience, and the Exotic Animal Zoo.
A special contest was held during the fair's final weekend. Participants were instructed to "nominate your friends and family in the community to win... We want to celebrate the community and recognize some of the wonderful people in the area." Entering this contest also meant getting involved with the fair's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
About the only thing that didn't go well at Palisades this year was the weather. It was so rainy on Saturday, June 27th that the fair actually had to close. This would be a tremendous blow to any fair, but especially to one that follows a weekend-only schedule. Palisades was therefore the only fair of the three that was statistically down this year.
Stay tuned: Fair Productions will expand into Florida this fall!