Located in Patterson, Calif., for carnival operator Teaco, it’s all about family fun. In business for 23 years, owner Tom Eachus was joined by partner Hugo Dominguez two years ago, and the pair have a distinctive niche in the carnival business. The company started with a single fiberglass slide in 1998, and has evolved and grown from there.
According to Eachus – whose name the carnival company’s moniker is based on – “We do 99% of our business in California. Our niche is one and two day events and company rentals. We do city carnivals, festivals, church carnivals, and private events, such as weddings, corporate parties, and just private parties of all kinds,” he notes.
At Oakhurst, the carnival was a centerpiece of a weekend that included food trucks, a scavenger hunt, and local wine and beer tasting. The 26th annual event was sponsored by the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce and Visit Yosemite Madera County. The Ukiah Pumpkin Festival, billed as the largest street fair in Mendocino County, included a large pumpkin weigh-off, live music, and a community haunted house along with Eachus’ carnival rides.
His top rides have been consistent in recent years. “Our Ferris wheels are always number one, followed by the Super Slides, and Paratrooper. The Mind Winder is another popular ride,” he explains, adding that kiddie rides continue to have a strong draw as well.
“In the kiddie ride category, we added the Jalopy Junction this year, which is doing very well for us. We also upgraded our lighting on all of our rides this year,” Eachus says. The new lighting has resulted in “much stronger business,” he relates.
LEDs overall save on the cost of illuminating the rides, as well.
Eachus says the biggest festival his company provided rides for this year was the Patterson Apricot Fiesta. “That had very strong attendance. We saw around 15,000 people at the carnival, and we had ten pieces in there. That is a good spot for us.”
Eachus offers wrist bands at $25, and tickets at $1 a piece or 10 for $12 dollars. “Ticket prices have not gone up in four years,” he states. The carnival tries to keep pricing reasonable for families, and he adds that the carnival has stayed to the tried and true formula of inexpensive pricing and rides the whole family can enjoy.
As far as promotion goes, Eachus says “We rely on the venue to promote the carnival, primarily. But we do have corporate sponsors at some events that promote the carnival as well.” The company doesn’t use social media often, although it does maintain a Facebook page and promoted their new LED lights in short video posts, which show the bright colors and attractive, up-to-date look of the rides.
Despite the draw of the new lighting in the evening hours, Eachus says that the company has not seen any major increases in guest attendance in the last year; rather, attendance has remained flat. “Honestly, we have had to work extra hard to get what we had last year,” he says.
Next year, however, Eachus is looking forward to a big event the company has never worked with before: the Lake Havasu Hot Air Balloon Festival. The carnival will be an adjunct to tethered and untethered balloon rides and musical entertainment at the Arizona lakefront event.
Annually, the company handles approximately 60 events, but Eachus notes that some of these events are small. Regardless of the event size, Eachus stresses that he’s devoted to offering guests an experience that’s both “exciting and enjoyable,” and he staffs his events to focus on courtesy to his customers – and maintaining that all-important family atmosphere.
Among the attractions Eachus has available are an Eli Bridg Ferris Wheel, described as one of the safest Ferris Wheels available; the Superslide he first purchased 22 years ago, and the 32-foot-tall Paratrooper, a spin ride that sends riders sailing through the air, feet dangling for a thrill. The Mind Winder, his latest carnival addition, has rotating seats that make it an immersive, popular thrill. Created by Amusement Masters, it seats up to 16 riders who individually control the spinning within their own cars, similar to the Disneyland tea cups ride.
Tubs of Fun is another spinning ride that Eachus offers, in which four tubs circle a central point within a larger circle. The tubs rotate independently from other tubs and are operator controlled to spin slowly or quickly.
On the kiddie ride side, Teaco’s jeep ride is a safe-for-all-kids umbrella style ride. His new Jalopy Junction attraction features steering wheels and horns, giving little ones a real sensation of driving. He also offers an inflatable fun zone for ages 8 and under, with slides, punching bags, and plenty of crawl and bounce space, which makes a popular attraction at smaller events.
Overall, Eachus says his attractions are all about offering safe, fun, family carnival rides at events of any size.