Day 2 of the IAFE/SLA convention in San Antonio was filled with breaking news. CarnivalWarehouse.com confirmed from several sources that after an RFP process, the Kentucky State Fair has decided to award the midway contract to a new carnival provider. We hope to have more information soon pending an official release from the fair.
Tuesday was also the final day of the SLA trade show held at the Grand Hyatt in the Texas Ballroom. Traffic Tuesday was lighter than Monday, but most vendors reported good results as they were able to see the right people and ink new deals.
Tony Cassata of Bob's Space Racers, who are celebrating 50 years in business in 2019, said the show was what he expected. Cassata said “important people are here and that's what it takes to make it successful”. BSR was coming off a great run at the IAAPA show in Orlando where they had a large display and lots of traffic. Cassata reported that traffic was up, attendance was up and people were buying at the show. He said domestic spending was very good and the company is optimistic about the coming season.
Rides 4-U was also performing well at the SLA trade show this year. Len Soled of Rides 4-U said the company had inked a deal with Butler Amusements for an Afterburner ride from KMG. KMG's Peter Theunisz assisted with the sale. The ride will seat 24 people and delivery is expected by September 1st of this year.
Tommy Murray of New York purchased a used Wisdom Storm ride from the company. Another Murray, Murray Brothers Inc. (no relation) bought a trailer mounted Mini Break Dance. The show will operate the ride on their carnival in the Cincinnati area.
Classic Amusements of Hayward, CA near the Bay Area also purchased a Mini Break Dance from Rides 4 U.
John Hofedeitz, a long time ride veteran, purchased a big SBF/Visa Pirate 30 ride for Jolly Roger Amusement Park in Ocean City, MD.
Soled said the SLA show was very good for his company, allowing him to spend some quality time with people he didn't have time to see at the busy IAAPA show. The SLA show, he said, gives him the opportunity to sit down with clients and potential clients in a much more relaxed atmosphere which results in increased sales and more personalized service.
Soled did comment that he was worried about the long term viability of the show here in San Antonio, worrying that attendance might slip as the expense of the trip to San Antonio and the novelty of the show in a new city wears off.
ARM & BATES BROTHERS AMUSEMENTS
Eric Bates of Ohio-based ARM was another manufacturer who enjoys the SLA show at the convention. He also cited the quality time he was able to spend with buyers and potential buyers as the reason for success.
Bates commented that he had a good IAAPA show this year but he is very worried about 2020 as the Orange County Convention Center undergoes construction and exhibit spaces are scheduled to be moved. “I have been in the building for many years and we have had rides like our Super Shot set up in the outside exhibit space”, he said.
Looking ahead to 2020 however, IAAPA is planning to group manufacturers and vendors associated with manufacturers together in a new building and keep gaming and rental-type vendors in the current trade show area. The new building will be located quite a distance from the outdoor exhibit space where the company usually places a ride, requiring a shuttle bus to go back and forth. The great distance will limit Bates' ability to help customers from both his inside and outside booths, something he is able to transition from easily in the current set up. While final details are not yet set, Bates is worried the new Exhibit Hall configuration will have an adverse affect on his business at IAAPA.
Bates is unique in that he not only operates a manufacturing company, but also a carnival company, Bates Brothers Amusements, so he has a perspective from both the manufacturing and operational sides of the fence. The show splits into 2 units and carries 53 rides in total.
The show used to travel to several states including PA, WV, NY and OH, but when his brother and his family decided to close their carnival, he picked up most of the carnival's Ohio dates and limited the route to just one state. With the new routing, Bates is never more than 150 miles from his home. No more does he have to make overnight jumps like the one the show used to make from Dunkirk, NY for the Chautauqua County Fair to Little Valley NY for the Cattaraugus County Fair.
Bates favors pay one price fairs where admission and unlimited rides are included in the price but most of his fairs have now transitioned to a more traditional arrangement where rides are not included with admission and require a ticket or wristband purchase.
Commenting on his 2020 season, he said a rainy spring, especially on the weekend days, hurt but he still had a good year, adding, “I've never had a bad year in business. Some years were not as good as others but that is different than having a bad year”.
Bates, while reporting a decent show for his company, is also worried about the future of the show in San Antonio. He said he has not seen as many fair board members at show as he saw last year in San Antonio or formerly in Las Vegas. “Vegas was the best of all worlds and personally, I would like to see us return, and I don't think I'm alone in that”, he said. By way of example, he said he wife didn't come this year to the convention, saying Vegas provided more opportunities for shows, shopping and activities.
New Product News: Hitch-Hiker Mfg.Hitch Hiker Manufacturing also teased a new product that the company promises will be a game changer for the industry. Carnivalwarehouse was provided a preview of the product and while we are not able to write about it yet, the innovation is certain to create a tremendous amount of excitement for food vendors throughout the industry. Food sales may never be the same in the amusement industry again.
2019 IAFE / SLA CONVENTION COVERAGE
IAFE Convention Comes to a Close; Marla Calico weighs in on the 2019 show and future
OABA discusses the need for fairs to assist in advocating for H-2B cap relief
2019 IAFE & SLA Trade Shows Kick off in San Antonio
Worldwide Safety Group Helps Fairs & Carnivals Become SAFE & Butler Amusements Updates
Showmen's League of America Continues Traditions of Friendship, Community
Exhibitors Lounge Opens in San Antonio
Forward Looking 2019 IAFE Convention Challenges Fairs to be Champions of Change