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2023 IISF Trade Show Welcomes Crowds back to Gibsonton
Joey Fowler Reflects on Career; Dreamland Amusements announces new Long Island Fair
Rides 4U - New & Used Rides Hildebrand Rides is now booking
The 2023 IISA Trade Show kicked off in Gibsonton Tuesday, February 14th, with beautiful weather greeting guests who were eager to see if 2023 would be a continuation of the success of 2021 and 2022 or whether inflation would curb some of the enthusiasm. So far this season, early fairs have pointed to a strong start. The South Florida Fair and Fort Worth Stock Show, traditional early indicators of the year ahead, both had strong years, with the Stock Show reaching record attendance. The Florida State Fair which runs during the same time as the trade show, has been steady, but weather affected the first Saturday attendance. Groups will be visiting the fair from the trade show during the week to gauge traffic for themselves.

The sentiment from attendees was once again cautiously optimistic. The club reported that booth space sales were up and several vendors who have not been to the show in a couple of years returned, especially those selling stock and game supplies. Some European manufacturers, who had been a big presence with rides pre-Pandemic have not yet returned, but there was a good array of rides to view at the show as well as some rides that are making their debut at the Florida State Fair where they can be seen in action.

There were several new vendors, including a manufacturer with a new swing ride, some new kiddie rides and a new Puppy ride from Rides 4-U.

Crowds seemed fairly strong compared to the past several years. There were many people on the grounds and a general feeling of optimism.

Russel Clements outside the SBF Puppy Ride sold by Rides 4-U to Luehrs Ideal Rides.  Clements built the trailer decking trailer mounted the ride, which sparked interest on day 1 of the trade show.

Fowler Games & Concessions

Joey Fowler of Fowler Games and Concessions is someone who comes to the trade show each year to see old friends and what is new and trending. Fowler was literally born into the business. Born on July 3rd, the next day his mother had him in a Digger game on one of the busiest days of the year.

Fowler's grandparents and later, parents, were all in the business. They traveled with Johnny's United Shows and Bill and Gloria Myers' Myers International Midways. Growing up on the shows, he learned to drive a truck and operate games, and by age 13, he had framed his first game; a basketball. Working the game himself, Fowler had a successful introduction to the midway. He then framed his second game, a balloon trailer and hired people to work it, a venture he was not entirely prepared for. “I had to learn about hiring and managing workers,” he observed.

By 17, after learning more about managing staff and payroll, Fowler set out on his own. He still worked with Myers but added Belle City Amusements and other carnivals to his route including Amusements of America.

On Amusements of America, he met Marc Garin, whose father ran the Meadowlands Fair in New Jersey. Fowler and Garin formed a partnership and friendship, assisting each other throughout the season. Fowler booked his games on the independent midway at the Meadowlands Fair and his footprint grew as his company got larger.

Building on his success at the Meadowlands Fair, he added independent locations at the Orange County Fair in NY from Steve Ianni and Duke Trombetti. He now also plays the independent midways at the Wisconsin State Fair, the Iowa State Fair and the Dade County Fair and Exposition.

He has built up his carnival partnerships, running two units and working with some of the largest shows in the country including NAME, Wade Shows, Reithoffer Shows and more.

When Garin retired from the food business, Fowler elected to purchase the food stands including his chicken trailer. Like the game business, Fowler had some early experience in the food sector. At 13, he was working in the Corn Dog trailer.

With two game units and food stands, Fowler has grown into a large independent operator at some of the nations largest events.

One of the highlights of his career was working OzzFest for 12 years, touring with Ozzy Osbourne's traveling festival. The tour provided the merchandise which included CDs, T-Shirts and other souvenirs, Fowler provided the games and the help. While it wasn't a huge home run financially, the events provided steady income and were lot of fun to be a part of.

Dreamland Signs New Fairs, Brings New Events Back to Life

Dreamland Amusements' Bob and Kathy DeStefano have been in a growth phase the past couple of years. The company added a lot of new equipment in the past year, including several rides from Wisdom, Lamberink and Bertazzon.

While the rides add to the excitement, the Dreamland team has been growing stronger in the promotions and event production sector. Dreamland produces two large events, Long Island FunFest at Nassau Community College, and the Empire State Fair, held at the historic Nassau Coliseum. For both events, the DeStefanos secure the location, obtain the permits, provide parking, entertainment and advertising. In 2022, both events were wildly successful, and the Destefanos enjoyed being captains of their own destiny.

Destefano just announced the addition of another major Long Island event to his route. Dreamland will be bringing back a large fair to “Bald Hill”, now known as the Long Island Community Hospital Amphitheater. The amphitheater was the home, for many years, to the Brookhaven Fair before it moved to an alternate location. DeStefano believes he can revive a fair at the site and recreate the memories so many Long Island Families enjoyed at the former event.

While exact details for the fair were not finalized at press time, the event will include entertainment and activities for families of all ages. A robust marketing campaign will accompany the promotion for the event, which is one of the only fairs in Suffolk County, NY.

With three major events on Long Island, and the addition of a fairgrounds to their holdings, Dreamland Amusements has built a whole new aspect to their business, one in which they can help control the success of their own events.

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