The final day of the IAFE Convention and trade show at the Paris in Las Vegas ended with a sold out trade show for the third consecutive year. The organization also landed a new beer sponsor in Lagunitas Brewing Company.
The performer showcases within the trade show was also expanded. This year, 23 acts performed live for convention guests, showcasing their many talents. The expanded program has become very popular for buyers and performers alike.
The IAFE also concluded its silent auction which went on for two days, raising money for the IAFE Educational Foundation.
Exact numbers were not available at press time but the event seemed to be a success in terms of traffic and the quality of seminars and classes offered to attendees.
Charlie Smith of Populous has quietly changed the landscape for millions of our nations' fairgoers. Smith who started in the amusement park business, is one the leading planners, designers and redesigners of our nation's fairs.
In 1982, Smith, a trained architect licensed in 27 states, was working on the design and construction of the World's Fair in Knoxville, TN. The work had a very high profile and soon he was contacted by Bill Greiner, Director of the Wisconsin State Fair. Greiner wanted to make his event look more like the World's Fair and invited Smith to come see his fair.
Smith, unfamiliar at the time with the size and scope of large fairs, remembers thinking he "didn't know a single thing about them". Once he made the visit to West Allis however, he was immediately impressed with the size and scope of the event and saw the great similarities to amusement parks and his work at the World's Fair.
The fair wanted to improve crowd circulation, make building improvements and create guest comforts. As Smith recalls, this first project took about six months to design a master plan for the fair.
Smith attended an IAFE Spring Manager's Conference where he met other prominent fair managers such Wayne Gallagher of the Texas State Fair and Mike Heffron of the Minnesota State Fair.
The next year, 1983, his company, Bullock, Smith and Partners, exhibited for the first time at the IAFE annual convention. He brought 4 design boards that he pinned to the curtain in his display area and conducted a workshop on master planning.
Through his work at the conference, his contacts from the Spring Manager's event and his work with the Wisconsin State Fair, he soon gained many new fair clients.
Coming from an amusement park background, Smith saw that amusements parks generally had a simpler layout while fairs were more complex. He said many fairs start with a linear loop-type design but then they add on here and there without a master plan and the result is poor traffic flow, dead ends, bottlenecks and redundancy.
When developing the fair's master plan, Smith does 23 diagrams studying highway access, local access, entry gates, building quality, solar orientation, gates and identifies constraints. Design options, with price tags are attached to the plan for the client to review. After a period of input front the client, Smith then takes in feedback and develops the final presentation.
Smith describes World's Fairs, Fairgrounds, Olympics and theme parks as being similar in design and follow 1 of 5 types of designs:
1) "The Traditional Mall" - This design is essentially a straight line up and back with clear sight lines
2) "The Loop Oval" -- Like many carnival midways, the loop oval spreads attendees throughout the oval and provides an ingress and egress.
3) "Star" - Think the castle at Disney World. This design has a focal point in the middle and a hub and spoke system for traffic flow
4) "Maze" - This is a layout that happens over time without a master plan, developing dead ends, bottlenecks and redundancy.
5) "Grid" - Like the streets of New York, this design has both north and south and east and west facing walkways.
Many fairgrounds display more than one type of these layouts. Smith calls the oval loop the most effective and efficient way to move traffic evenly throughout the event.
Throughout his 33 years in the business, Smith has completed projects for the Big E, Utah State Fair, Ohio State Fair, Houston Livestock Show and Exhibition, North Dakota State Fair and New Mexico State Fair, just to name a small sample.
Currently, he is working on a huge renovation project for the New York State Fair. The projected, expected to cost about $190 million when completed, just finished the $50 million Phase I. Highlights of the first phase include new facilities and renovations, a new entrance gate and a completely new midway. Phases II is expected to be completed by the 2017 fair and Phase III by 2018.
Smith's company takes on about 15 - 20 projects each year and because the events continue to improve and renovate their grounds, he seems to never run out of exciting new projects on which to spend his considerable time and talents.
There were not quite as many carnivals exhibiting at the IAFE Trade Show this year. Carnival Warehouse spotted Frazier Shows, and Powers Great American Midways manning their respective booths.
Powers Great American Midways
In the PGAM booth, Phil and Dean Corl, sons of Debbie Powers, Marc Janas and Corky Powers could all be seen taking turns greeting fairs and events.
PGAM is scheduled to open the 2nd week of March in North Carolina, close to its winter quarters in Wilmington. They then play fair and events throughout the country, closing back in the Wilmington area in November.
Important stops along their route include the Dutchess County Fair, the North Carolina State Fair, the Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg, MD, the Allentown Fair and they even send some rides with Wade Shows to the New York State Fair.
The show has been busy buying rides in the past year and will debut 6 new pieces on the midway in 2017. A KMG Speed and Kolmax rides Flying Elephant, Tea Cups, Scooters, and Train are all new additions.
Reithoffer Shows signs South Plains Fair
In other carnival/fair news, Reithoffer Show was proudly announcing the signing of the South Plains Fair in Lubbock Texas, expanding their western route started with the acquisition of the New Mexico State Fair contract.
The fair signed a three-year agreement naming Reithoffer the carnival for 2017, 2018 and 2019, according to Herb Higgs, CFE, General Manager of the Fair and Richard Reithoffer, President of Reithoffer Shows.
Higgs says its management wanted to offer more spectacular, better quality rides. "The stars were aligned", said Higgs. The opportunity arose when Higgs learned Reithoffer was the carnival of record at the New Mexico State Fair, which ends five days prior to the opening of Lubbock, and is just 350 miles to the west. "Not only did we fit in the route, but the quality of the Show is one of the finest in America," he added. "This will be a big hit with our customers. They're going to ride rides they've never seen before".
Perhaps the biggest announcement will be the signing of the Arkansas State Fair by NAME but neither the fair nor the carnival has made an official announcement, despite confirmation from multiple sources.
2017 will mark the final year of the convention in Las Vegas before moving to San Antonio Texas in 2018. The show has been in Las Vegas since 1971.