The second day of the IAFE convention and trade show was also the closing day of the SLA Exhibitor's lounge. The weather in Las Vegas was cool but clear and attendees were out in large numbers browsing vendors or making last minute deals.
Ramon Rosario was one of three Zamperla representatives at the trade show.
Although traffic is not heavy at the show, Zamperla is proof that quite a lot of business can be conducted. Roasrio reported that Zamperla had sold four rides at the lounge, after a few years of not closing any deals here.
Rosario was very encouraged by the showing and sees it as a good sign for the future. Co
ming on the heels of a successful IAAPA show, the success here in Las Vegas seems to be a sign of good things to come.
Zamperla sold a Lolly Swing to Reithoffer Shows, a Tea Cup to California Carnival Company, a used Mini Jet to Russ Kissel and a Samba Balloon to an undisclosed fourth party.
Rosario was especially excited about the sale of a new Zamperla Endeavour to Ray Cammack Shows, which was delivered during Arizona State Fair in October. The Endeavour, described by Rosario as a "new age Enterprise", has open air, suspended passenger vehicles which "give riders the sensation of flying sixty feet through the air at 25 miles per hour."
The ride, which comes in both mobile and park models, has a 24-seat capacity for the mobile unit. Zamperla uses a patented load design with a dual-stage lift mechanism that eliminated the need for a platform, making it much easier to transport than the old Enterprise.
A park model unit of the ride can be seen at Zamperla's Luna Park on Coney Island, NY.
As the Exhibitor's Lounge came to a close for 2016, the general outlook on the season was positive, with most vendors reporting serious discussions and what looks to be a robust sales year.
Robeson Regional Fair
Over on the IAFE side in Paris, Dixon Britt of the Robeson Regional Fair described what is was like to get struck by a hurricane ... twice ... in consecutive years!
The fair was on what Britt described as a record breaking run when a projected hurricane led to a closing of the fair beginning Friday of the final weekend. By Sunday, there was 2 feet of water on the fairgrounds. Luckily, Matt McDonagh's Big Rock Amusements and some Wade Shows rides were able to tear down prior to the storm, thanks to the early closing.
Following a devastating 2015 hurricane-affected fair, the 2016 weather trouble on the biggest weekend of the event was an unwelcome event.
Despite the weather troubles, everything else seemed to be going well with the fair. Britt said the entertainment was well received as was the midway brought by Wade Shows and Big Rock.
At the convention, the Robeson Regional Fair inked a new three-year pact with Wade Shows and Big Rock, who will co-produce the midway. Big Rock provides the bulk of the equipment, supplemented by some big spectacular rides from Wade Shows.
The fair was well represented at the convention with 6 board members present from the southern North Carolina Fair.
Rick Frenette receives IAFE Hall of Fame Award
The IAFE awarded its prestigious Hall of Fame Award late Monday. The 2016 recipient was Richard "Rick" Frenette, one of the most accomplished turn-around artists in the industry.
Frenette began his career deep-frying Pronto Pups at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair in Chippewa Falls. His father managed the fair for many years and Frenette served the fair for twenty years before becoming Finance Director of the Minnesota State Fair in 1986.
In 1993, Frenette was named Executive Director of the Ohio State Fair, an event that faced a very troubling future. After decades of running as a pay-one-price fair with admission as low as $5, the fair decided to move away from the unworkable system to a more traditional pay for admission and pay for rides system.
Replacing a fair manager who attempted abrupt changes and was later let go, Frenette charted a course that had never been traveled before, moving a major fair away from the pay-one-price system to the more traditional pay as you go system.
Frenette hired a new carnival company, Amusements of America, and worked with the carnival to keep ticket pricing low to soften the impact of the price change on fair guests. Once pricing stabilized, ticket prices were slowly raised over a multi-year period until they reached market levels.
Working with a dedicated team, Frenette developed successful promotions such as a 2 for 1 Monday where they sold 2 for 1 wristbands on the midway and offered 2 for 1 admission at the gate. The promotion exceeded all expectations and revenue rivaled the biggest of any day of the fair.
Frenette is jokingly credited for reaching a milestone at the fair for the most precipitous attendance decline in industry history. After years of exorbitantly inflated attendance reporting in the 3 million-people range, Frenette decreed that the fair would be generating credible numbers, much in the same way he had been trained at the Minnesota State Fair. His first year at the fair, attendance declined from the 3 million range to about 800,000, a loss of 2.2 million!
Of course, the now accurate numbers gave the citizens of Ohio a new transparency and Frenette's revenue numbers exceed those of any recent year at the fair. Under Frenette's leadership the fair increased attendance and revenue stabilized and continued to grow.
In 2004, after weathering the highly political environment at the Ohio State Fair for over a decade, Frenette took the helm at the Utah State Fair. During his tenure, Frenette doubled revenue and increased attendance in Salt Lake by 50%.
In an exciting homecoming, Frenette was called upon to lead the Wisconsin State Fair, an event facing a $15 million deficit. Within three years, Frenette turned that deficit into a $4.5million surplus. He increased attendance by 25% to over 1 million guests for the first time in fair history.
Ever the innovator, Frenette introduced Spin City, the independent ride midway for the Wisconsin State Fair and increased revenue while also increasing guest satisfaction by selecting top ride operators from throughout the country.
Having turned around three major fairs and leaving them all on sound financial footing, Frenette has a successful track record that is unequaled in the industry.
In 2016 at the IAFE convention, he introduced his newest venture, Fair Advantage. Through Fair Advantage, Frenette is able to lend his skills and expertise to fairs of all sizes through his new consulting firm.
Fair Advantage is a group of industry experts, led by Frenette, that offers services to fairs such as Project Management and Consulting, Event Assessment and Mentoring and Coaching. Frenette has already worked with clients such as the Indiana State Fair, the Big E, and the Northern Wisconsin State Fair.
Although there is a small initial investment for his services, Frenette is confident that with his skills and expertise, that investment will pay dividends for events large and small --- and Frenette has the track record to prove it.
2016 IAFE / SLA Trade Show Coverage