2006 Florida State Fair Slightly Down from 2005- but still strong
The Florida State Fair in many ways is the kickoff to the fair season in the industry. Many show owners, concessionaires and workers, in town for Gibtown and beginning to think about opening for the season, visit the State Fair. Many times the fair is a place for firsts and it certainly is a place to look for trends in the industry. In 1992, amid much controversy, the fair went to an independent midway for the first time. Carnival owners attempted to stage a boycott, believing the concept would be bad for the industry. There have been many rides that have made their debut in Tampa, showcasing for the customers flocking to the Gibtown Trade Show. 2006 marked the second year for new manager Chuck Pesano and hopes were high to build on a phenomenally successful year in 2005. We talked with independent midway manager Fred Brown and midway coordinator Carla Hrudka Carman about the fair and the part we all love best -- the midway! MCW: How did the fair do this year? Were attendance/ride/food/game gross, percentages up/down from last year? FSF: Attendance down approximately 15% (audited report not released by the Inspector General’s Office as yet) and Ride grosses were down this year approximately 10%. MCW: Why was it down? FSF: Weather – (It was)Rainy and cold on the first weekend. High fuel costs may have impacted statewide travel and disposable income available to be spent on all entertainment venues. MCW: What were some of the highlighted changes of the fair this year and how did they work out? FSF: Sports Fest – Worked very well. Use of the Amphitheater for entertainment – was just OK Worlds Fair For Kids – not as successful as we had hoped Raised the price of Armband – very well, off set part of the drop in revenue caused by lower attendance (see question 1) MCW: What were the top ten rides at the fair? Click here to view a complete listing. FSF: OVERALL STANDINGS OWNER RIDE NAME 1 Sky Fair, Inc Sky Glider 2 Fsfa/Joyce Super Slide 3 Wade Shows Hit In 2000 4 Wade Shows Giant Gondola Wheel 5 S.J. Entertainment-Vandervorste Crazy Mouse 6 Holiday Amusements-Vanhull Zyklon 7 Dreamland Himalaya 8 Bluegrass Shows Dream Machine 9 Wood Entertainment Co, Inc Magnum 10 Cumberland Valley Space Roller MCW: Who were your biggest game operators and what did they have? FSF: Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Big Game -Water game Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Big Game -Water game Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Big Game -Water game Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Whac a Mouse Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Basket Ball Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Pool Table Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Balloon Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Fire Fly -Water Game Fowler Games Inc. LLC. Joey Fowler Basket Ball Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Fishy- Fishy Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Star Dart Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Rising Water Game Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Balloon Pop Water Race Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Ring a Bottle (Motorcycles) Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Flower Game Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Hot Stuff Water Race Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Long Range Basket Ball Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Star Dart Lava Lamp Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Cork Gun Pugh Concessions Bobby Pugh Dart Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Tubs Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Mini Ball Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Fish Bowl Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Prize Palace Balloon Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Tub Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Basket Ball Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Balloon Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Kiddie Cork Shoot Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Kiddie Sea Shell Dig Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Sail Boat Pond Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Balloon Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Ring A Bottle Marios Concessions Mario Rojas, Jr. Balloon MCW: Who were your biggest food operators and what did they serve? FSF: Boston Culinary Group, Cox Concessions, & Netterfield Concessions – All three offered confections and grab items. Boston Culinary Group also had beer & alcohol sales and sit down meals. Cox additionally had sit down meals and convenience store. MCW: Who staffed the independent midway and what roles did they play? FSF: The following personnel staffed the Midway Office Compound: Fred C. Brown – Director of Operations Carla Hrudka Carman – Midway Office Manager/Ticket Weigh Coordinator J. J. Hickey – Midway Operations Coordinator Terry Grace – Midway Concessions Coordinator George Kolias –Florida Department of Agriculture Joe Ball – Ticket Weigh Art Tidwell – Ticket Weigh Pam Chambers – Ticket Weigh Shelah Otterbacher - Midway Courtesy / Midway Uniforms Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office –A. “Buddy” McCullough, Ron Keeter Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection – Arthur Williams, Allan Harrison, Jerry “Cal” Callahan, Clifford Groscurth Affiliated Adjusters, Sharon Kautz and staff – K&K Insurance Adjusters Lanier Upshaw Insurance – Luke A Vaughan, Director of Safety and Loss Control, Dick W. Bily, John Ratliff, Keith Swinehart MCW: Do you foresee keeping the independent midway format in the future? FSF: Yes. MCW: Is there any chance of just using a carnival operator or a carnival to coordinate the midway? FSF: We will continue to operate as an Independent Fair as long as the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and the Florida State Fair Authority Board wish us to do so. MCW: In 1992, there was a lot of controversy about the independent midway and many carnivals boycotted the event. How do carnivals look at the independent midway now and do you think they made a mistake in not participating the first year? FSF: We feel that the Independent is the best way to go for us. The participating carnivals do very well at our fair. As far as in the past, well that’s in the past and the carnival companies that did not wish to participate back in 1992 made a business decision they felt was the best for them at the time. We do not hold that against any company for future bookings. MCW: Are there any other comments concerning the fair that you would like to add? FSF: Considering the weather we had a very good, above average Fair. Most of the concessionaires and ride operators indicated they would like to come back. MCW: Thank you for your time and best wishes for a successful 2007 fair!