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Attendees Gather to Shop & Socialize on Day Three of the 2022 IISA Trade Show
Miller Spectacular Shows to Focus on Improvements in 2022
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Thursday, February 17th was the third day of the 2022 IISA Trade Show. The temperatures were even warmer, exceeding 80 degrees in the Tampa area. Vendors and suppliers were still seeing lots of customers with interest in purchasing following a record season for just about all aspects of the industry. Despite the record numbers, supply chain issues and rising costs are looming in everyone's mind. In fact, the Pandemic spurred business to look at costs, revamp operations and change goals. Many carnivals speak of downsizing, moving less equipment, studying fair contracts and mileage in routing, and food and game vendors expect price hikes and supply challenges.

B&C Amusements


B&C Amusements is a carnival company that has undergone changes in the past couple of years, much of it due to the Pandemic and another part due to some personal circumstances. Like so many businesses that are making changes, it is not only the Pandemic that spurred the change, but a circumstance that was already in play that was accelerated by the Pandemic or the interruption in business giving them the ability to look at their business differently.


Thelma Howlett and her husband operated Howlett Amusements until her husband's passing. Faced with running the show on her own, Howlett turned to long time friends Chuck and Grace Cantwell. Cantwell owned some of his own rides and worked for the Howletts since he was 15 years old. Having traveled and worked together for many years, the combination made sense and a new company, B&C Amusements was born.

The show travels from May to November playing small town festivals, Indian Pow-Wows and a couple of county fairs in Indiana.

In addition to the rides, the company operated 4 food trailers; a grab, an elephant ear, a cotton candy and one versatile trailer. They serve items such as Lemon Shake Ups, BBQ Pork Fries, and Elephant Ears. They also claim to have some of the best Italian sausage in the country, made from a 100+ year-old secret recipe.

As described above however, the Covid-19 Pandemic, coupled with the loss of her husband has made the team rethink their business model. With workers in short supply, Howlett said she is “not big enough to be importing help,” adding, “it's too expensive and I don't want the headaches.”

Looking at the numbers and their time and costs, B&C decided to do away with the ride portion of their business. In 2022, they will just operate their food stands and they are selling their rides. On an interesting note, one of their rides is a Swinging Gym, one of only two rides of its kind they claim are still operating in the US.


Miller Spectacular Shows


Unlike B&C, Freddy Miller of Miller Spectacular Shows is intending to remain firmly in the ride business. When his father Johnny Miller retired in 2017 to build and operate an RV park, Freddy, who his father had been mentoring and giving increasing responsibility over the years, took the reins of the show with an intent to not so much grow the show, but focus on improving quality and the guest experience.

With 60 rides in his arsenal, Miller decided the focus was not to get bigger but focus on always being better. He says his goal is to build a solid 40 ride show with a top notch operation.



To that end, Miller purchased a truckload of flooring mats for his game and food concessions, ticket boxes and even some rides. “I'm working right now on improving my branding,” opined Miller. He is working on an update to his website with Matt's Web Design, adding cash register systems to his food trailers and improving seating areas and guest amenities.

Miller is backed by his wife Patsy who helps in the office and works with the committees. His sons, Trey and Drew and their wives are also integral parts of the show. Trey says he “makes lights blink and rides spin,” while brother Drew is in charge of the food and helps with the office and marketing. The boys' wives, Katie and Holly, help out wherever they are needed.The show plays an expansive route, traveling from March through November in six states; Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi.

One fair on their route, Yazoo City, MS has been on the route for over 65 years, dating back to Freddy's grandfather. Freddy says he has Super 8 videos of his parents at the fair before they were married. Three of the fair former fair manager's kids are now on the board of the fair. Miller has known the younger generation his whole life, playing together as kids and now they work together as adults.

The Yazoo Fair is also one of the longest running POP fairs in the country, charging only $10 for admission and 40 rides.

Miller says the secret to the show's success is the family operation. “When someone comes to the office, they deal with a family member, not an employee.” He sees his relationship with his fairs as a partnership, working together to make the event successful for the long term.

“I was blessed beyond belief,” said Miller of the 2021 season, describing it as the best year many companies have ever seen. “We have had two units in the past and sometimes even three or four on the road and this year with one unit was the best ever,” he added.

Looking ahead to the coming season, Miller said he would like to see an increase from 2019, but would love to see numbers like 2021, although he knows that is likely not realistic. Instead he will focus on improving the ride quality, the guest experience and his bottom line. “My dad always said, it's not what you gross, its what you go home with.”

Stay tuned for our wrap up report where we will review sales and purchases from the 2022 Trade Show and look ahead to the coming season.


Ed Powers, Tracy and Ron Thomas of Powers & Thomas Midway Entertainment


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