The 48th edition of the IISA Super Extravaganza and Trade Show kicked off on Tuesday, February 9th at the show center in Gibsonton, FL. The grounds were once again filled with dozens of vendors and suppliers, ranging from rides and electrical supplies to stock for games and concession supplies.
The first day of the show began with the usual first day light crowds. Unseasonably cold weather, which was predicted to stay in the 50s, did not help with those who were hoping for some Florida sunshine.
Current IISA President Richie George was walking the floor meeting and greeting his vendors and exhibitors and making sure the show got off to a smooth start. Outside, exhibitors such as Wisdom Industries a
nd other ride manufacturers were putting the finishing touches on their displays.
Mike Sandlofer Passes
Unfortunately, the news of the passing of veteran performer and animal conservationist Mike Sandlofer reached the trade show floor as the show opened. Sandlofer passed away after a long battle with cancer. A fighter until the end, MCW talked with several show attendees who had talked with Sandlofer in the past couple of weeks from his hospital bed, where he was planning new ventures and putting deals together for his friends to the every end.
Most recently, Sandlofer and his family operated two traveling wolf shows, playing many state fairs and large events throughout the country. Mike's wife Sharon is the principal trainer for the animals and daughter Sadie operates the second unit of the show which features baby wolves. Ever the animal conservationist, Sandlofer's show was made up of animals rescued from fur farms.
Sandlofer trained the animals and cared for them at his farm in South Carolina. In addition to the wolves, Sandlofer had horses he cared for and used for many years in his Frontier Show. The show featured his youngest daughter, Benna, as a trick rider. The show ceased to operate a few years ago in favor of the wolf shows which were exploding in popularity.
Sandlofer's love of animals has been a life long vocation. He was the first person to rescue a beached whale and release it back into captivity. His exploits were covered by the Long Island and New York area papers at the time.
After the first rescue, Sandlofer invented and patented a whale saving harness that became widely used in the rescue of the animals. Sandlofer gave the patent for the harness away free so the whales could be rescued without a large cost to the rescuers.
For his efforts, Sandlofer was awarded the prestigious Rolex award.
Sandlofer's heroics are evident with animals but he also showed his heroism by serving our country in time of war in the US Navy. Sandlofer's career in the Navy also involved animals, where he worked with seals to try and train them to help with recovery efforts for planes and ships that sunk in the ocean.
Out of the service, Sandlofer turned his love of animals into a businesses, producing Circus With A Purpose, a non-profit show that toured the NY area, but also played some fairs and festivals. Sandlofer worked with schools, teaching the kids about animals and how they helped build America.
This theme was woven throughout many of his fair entertainment offerings. His camel ride commemorated the camel unit that worked in the western part of the US, his petting zoo told the story of the animals that helped build America and his Frontier Show was a history lesson wrapped in a rousing patriotic show.
Like so many in our industry, Mike was truly one of a kind, and his family, led by wife Sharon, will be carrying on his traditions with their wolf exhibits.
A celebration of Sandlofer's life will be held at an open house this Thursday, February 11th at his niece's house at 5331 Brooke Farm Dr. in Dunwoody, GA 30338.
Rest in Peace Mike.
SONSHINE AMUSMEENTS PURCHASES NEW GONDOLA WHEEL FROM LUNA PARK
Eddy and Ashley Noerper of Sonshine Amusements are excited about the purchase of their new Gondola Wheel from Luna Park Rides. The company is expecting delivery on May 30th and the ride will be the first one in the United States.
Ashley Noerper cited the affordable cost of the ride and the ease of working with the team at Luna Park as reasons for giving the company their first order. The ride will have 10 gondolas and travel on one trailer. Eddy Noerper said they will have to only stack two tubs together at a time with the wheel's design and he cited the ease of setup and innovative design work as factors in his purchase decision.
The Noerpers grew up around each other when their parents would book together when they were young. The Noerpers own Archway Amusements and the Jones family had Jackson's United Shows. When Ashley's grandfather Jim Jackson retired, the show split into two separate shows, Darrell and Tammy Jones started Sonshine Amusements and Jim Jr. started J&J Magic Midway. The families' two units continue to work together and sometimes combine for larger events.
Ashley and Eddy were reunited when Eddy brought some rides over to help Sonshine. The couple, engaged to other people at the time, reunited and rekindled a childhood friendship that blossomed into an adult relationship.
The couple were married ten years ago and Eddy left his family's Archway Amusements for Sonshine.
The show carries approximately 20 rides including a Zumur, Paratrooper and Rock O Plane. They travel in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama from the 2nd week in March until the end of October. The route is made up largely of county fairs and some festivals and community celebrations. When additional spectacular rides are needed, the company calls on Archway Amusements or PBJ Happee Days Shows owned by the Casper family. They field up to 40 rides at some events with the combined efforts from parts of the four shows (Sonshine, J&J Magic, Archway and PBJ Happee Days Shows).
Stay tuned tomorrow for coverage of Day 2 of the Super Extravaganza and Trade Show.
2016 IISF Trade Show Coverage