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Butler Amusements Celebrates 49 Years Providing Midways to the Western United States
Show adds Napa Fair & Fiesta and Tehama County Fair to route
Rides 4U - New & Used Rides Now Booking Food, Games, Rides for select dates!
2019 will be the forty-ninth year that Butler Amusements, Inc. has served fairs, celebrations, festivals and fundraising events in the Western United States. With a huge array of rides, attractions, games and food concessions, Butler Amusements has been a dominant player in the carnival business in the West for decades.  The carnival operates three units, which sometimes split in two each, running as many as six events on any given week.  

According to Butler's marketing director Andrea Stillwell, Butler carries about 100 amusement rides and attractions, with each unit carrying 12 - 22 rides each and combining for larger events.  

Their ride arsenal includes a Chance Giant Wheel, Turbo, Zillerator Coaster, Ex-Scream Coaster, Mega Flip, and Freak Out, among others. 

And among the newest ride offerings are the Speed, manufactured by KMG of the Netherlands. Other new rides include KMG's Inversion; ARM manufacturing's Quasar; and a Wacky Shack funhouse from Owen Trailers.  When it comes to food and games, tradition is tops, with food sales of staples such as corn dogs and cotton candy still best sellers, Stillwell attests. Popular games include water races, balloon dart games, and the duck pond, all games with strong classic, family appeal.

Some things do change, however. Stillwell says “We have added two new fairs to our 2019 route: the Tehama County Fair, in Red Bluff, Calif., and Napa Fair & Fiesta in Calistoga, Calif.” The company's season begins in February at the Holtdale Carrot Festival, followed closely by the Cloverdale Citrus Fair this year. Both of these events take place in California. The company's season concludes in October, also in California, at the Desert Empire Fair in Ridgecrest. Throughout the operating season, Butler Amusements moves throughout California, and while many of its venues are located in the state – which is also where the company began; Butler also has dates booked in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington State for the 2019 season. 

While among Butler's more unusual venues are the Coalinga, Calif. Horned Toad Derby and the Chandler, Ariz. Ostrich Festival, the company's top earners are large fairs. 

“We provide the carnival at five of the top fifty fairs in the United States, including the California State Fair in Sacramento; the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, Calif.; the Kern County Fair in Bakersfield, Calif.; the Big Fresno Fair in Fresno, Calif., and the Evergreen State Fair, located in Monroe, Wash.,” Stillwell says, noting that “In 2018, Butler Amusements experienced all time high record ride grosses at 17 of the 36 fairs where we are the sole carnival contract holder.”

The impressive grosses support the company's strong record for earnings at their carnivals; earnings that increase revenue for the locations where they perform, as well. As an example, the Southwest Washington Fair extended the company's contract from 2018 through 2022, so that Butler Amusements will continue to provide carnival games, rides and food that provide increasing revenue for the county. 

While rain and heat were deterrents at some of the company's stops throughout 2018, many fairs that Butler provided attractions for had a stellar year, with some, like Big Fresno Fair, posting record attendance. Overall, spending was strong, with grosses for Butler in 2018 that exceeded those in 2017. 

The amusement company is seeing some new trends among customers. “We continue to see the trend of customers preferring unlimited ride wristbands verses events that only offer individual ride tickets,” she relates. “Fast Pass is also becoming a more popular offering at many of our larger fairs and events. And lastly, our family rides, which accommodate both adults and children remain popular.”  


Four years ago, Butler implemented a cashless system at select events on the unit headed by Mick Brajevich.  Butler uses the cashless midway at approximately 15 events including the Central Washington State Fair, San Mateo County Fair, and Evergreen State Fair. 

Butler uses Fields Consultant Group (FCGservices.com) to allow customers this option by purchasing chipped smart cards at ticket boxes or self-serve kiosks. Stillwell describes these capabilities as allowing customers to “Choose the ticket package you want, pay using cash, credit, or debit, and receive a smart card with all of your tickets. Keep your receipt in a safe place, and use the smart card to ride rides and play games -- cards are scanned at each ride and each game. You can refill your smart card at any ticket box or self-serve kiosk. You can also track where you used your tickets and check your balance.”

She adds that “Unlimited ride wristbands still work as they always have, equipped with rfid chips.” Those, too, can be purchased at a carnival ticket box and used to ride all the rides guests want all day. Wristbands are scanned at each ride. 

“The main benefits of the system include precise ride data reports, customer ease, ride and games both accepting the smart card,  customer tracking with receipt - good for lost children, and less error with sales,” Stillwell sums up.

To promote their attractions, Butler relies mainly on social media for advertising, Stillwell attests. “We've expanded our marketing department to include full-time staff dedicated to this endeavor,” she adds. 

Key staff members on each unit include Unit Managers and Office Managers, whom Stillwell cites as Sean Butler, Kelley Butler, Gena Tuttle in Sean's Unit; Mick Brajevich, Jesse Bogue, Dean McArter, Sally McClain for Mick's Unit; and for Lance's Unit, Lance Moyer, Manuel Martinez, and Felicia Alexander. “However,” she adds, “we have an extensive management support team including Assistant Managers, Safety Administrators, Electricians, and multiple behind the scenes, experienced personnel.”
 
The company's main concessionaires, Boguey Concessions, Greg's Family Fun, B. Ellis Concessions and Brian C. Brandon Concessions have travelled with Butler Amusements for over 20 years.

Butler Amusements is one of the largest carnival companies in the Western states, and offers carnivals for a wide range of events from major fairs to smaller festivals. The company is proud of its commitment to both safety and to energy conservation, and emphasizes offering guests the newest rides available, and strives to live up to its tag line of the “cleanest show in the west.”  The company began in 1960, when George "Bud" Butler began purchasing games and rides with his son Earl "Butch" Butler. From a small beginning, they owned 130 rides by 1996. Butch Butler passed away in 2011; Mick Brajevich became the current CEO and president of the company. 

Butler Amusements as a company has been recognized with the Circle of Excellence Designation by the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, which is given to only a selected group of U.S. carnivals, and the company is proud of that.

“Butler Amusements is a family owned and operated company,” Stillwell stresses. “In 2020, we will be celebrating our 50th year in business. We cherish our relationship with our fair and event partners and continue to make improvements to our operations which leads to excellent customer service.”
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