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Carnival & Fair News
Carnival & Fair News
How Kissel Entertainment Stands Out Against Competitors
Show adds KMG Alter Ego for 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018
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Russ Kissel has worked with fairs his entire life.   His business, Kissel Entertainment, was first created in 1932, by his grandfather who lived in Cincinnati. Kissel says what started out as two guys running a simple pony ride evolved into seven different businesses around the country – all individually owned by Kissel and his cousins.

Kissel says his wife also comes from a background in the industry and his three daughters are the fourth generation to take on the carnival empire.

Kissel Entertainment is a top-rated family-friendly traveling amusement park that services state and regional fairs, festivals, fundraisers and a variety of special events. Russ Kissel's route spans across the states of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

The traveling amusement park provides fair goers with an attractive and complete carnival midway that features games, food concessions, cooling stations, rest benches and more.

At each Kisssel carnival location, guests will find an average of between 12-15 food vendors and 30 games. An average of 45 thrill, family and kiddie rides also make up some of the midway entertainment featured.

Rides include the Hurricane, Rock-O-Plane, Sizzler, Super Trooper, Surge, Zumer Swings and G7; family rides include the Fun Slide, Grand Carousel, High Energy, Monkey Maze, Orient Express, Scooter, Silver Streak, Surf Shack, Tea Time and Tit-A-Whirl. A few of the kiddie rides featured are the Umbrella Boats, Rio Grand Train and Up, Up & Away.

This season at Kissel's carnivals, visitors will also be treated to a couple of new additions to the family. New rides acquired for 2018 include the The Alter Ego – a KMG Speed ride that is 120 feet tall and flips riders heads over feet. It sits four riders on each end of a tower and riders are secured using over-the-shoulder restraints.

The company also recently acquired a second Giant Astro Wheels from Smokey's Greater Shows, which Kissel says he is especially excited about. The Astro Wheel is a rare vintage ride and towers above the midway at 73 feet tall.
“They are showpieces and I can't rave enough about them,” Kissel says of his newest midway attraction. “The Astro Wheel is such a great ride; there is a unique feel to it and I don't think there is anybody else out there moving an Astro Wheel. It is like a Ferris wheel, but has a different feel.”  

Over the last couple of years, the show has been making the push to change over from incandescent to energy-efficient LED lighting.  Most recently, the show had its Nemesis 360 (KMG Inversion) outfitted with a new color changing light package from Showmen Supplies.  The piece debuted this winter at the IISF Trade Show in Gibtown.

The layout of the carnival also offers plentiful seating opportunities and modern convenient amenities such as baby changing stations. When the schedule permits and time allows, the business also adds an extra bit of creative flair with attractive colorful decorative landscaping at each venue.

In fact, appearances are an important aspect in relation to how this company runs. Maintaining a positive image is one of the main things that Kissel says enables his business to succeed and helps set it apart from the competition. He explains that his company prides itself on great attention to detail with the entire carnival set-up, from start to finish. Staff take note of the way everything is designed and strive to ensure that all is kept orderly and is pleasing aesthetically to the public eye. As a quote on the kisseentertainment.com website states, “Dingy, dirty, midways of the past are not our thing.”

Kissel said another important reason he believes his company finds success is because his staff members pride themselves on “doing things right” all the time.

“We live and die by background checks and drug screens,” he shares. “We have a great safety record and always make sure things are clean and we are doing the right thing.”

Safety within the company is a priority and is taken very seriously. Equipment is fully inspected on a daily basis by management and staff. Ride foremen perform multiple safety checks and state inspections are completed on a weekly and annual basis. With the arrival of winter, all carnival equipment is also fully inspected and refurbished at the Ohio-based winter quarter facility. All rides are properly maintained and serviced and touch-ups and new coats of paint are applied if necessary.

A recent project completed at the Kissel winter quarters was a complete refurbishment of the show's Chance Thunder Bolt, a piece the show aquired from Jim Murphy's Mighty Bluegrass Shows.  They stripped the ride down to its frame and rebuilt it from the ground up.  The ride was themed Matterhorn and sports a olympic bobsled theme.  

The work may be hard at times but the reward is great – and it's not necessarily one of monetary value.

At the end of the day, what Kissel loves the most about his lifelong career with the traveling amusement park business is the personal relationships he says that he has developed along the way with people residing in different parts of the country.

“We don't wear out our welcome since we only stay in a place about two weeks,” he shares. “But when we come back, it is like a really nice homecoming. I grew up with all of these people and they are good people and good friends.”

And when it comes to the future, the path ahead looks bright for Kissel Entertainment. With three daughters deeply involved with the carnival business and two of the three traveling with the company full-time, Kissel has high hopes for where the the company is headed down the road.

“My daughters are ready to take the reigns,” he says. “They do not want to be a small carnival. They want to keep growing bigger, and they want to do so by doing things right. At the end of the day, you can buy all the rides you want. But doing the job right is what really makes all the difference.”

Kissel Entertainment will be featured at upcoming events including the National Cornbread Festival and the World's Biggest Fish Fry, both in Tennessee; and the Tennessee Strawberry Festival.






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