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Dreamland Amusements Expands on All Fronts; Show Purchases Elberton 12 County Fairgrounds

Dreamland Purchased the Elberton 12 County Fairgrounds
The fairgrounds, previously owned by Dick Carl, is located in Elberton, Georgia.

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Dreamland Amusements, coming off a banner year in 2022, is expanding in terms of rides, attractions, and events.  The 2021 season was a huge boost for the outdoor amusement business and to the surprise of many, including Dreamland owner Bob DeStefano, 2022 was in most cases just as good or even better.  DeStefano sees the uptick in business as both an opportunity and a responsibility for his two-unit carnival.  “We captured a new audience in 2021 and 2022, people came out who haven't been to a carnival for a while, or maybe had young kids and were bringing them for a first visit.  Now that we captured a new audience, it is out turn to keep them,” he added.

Expanding and improving Dreamland Amusements is DeStefano's focus coming out of the Pandemic.  On the equipment side, Dreamland has added a ton of new equipment, including a new 110ft Giant Wheel which they will be introducing to the midway in June.  The ride, manufactured by Lamberink, will be the tallest attraction on the midway and really enhance the look of the show.

In addition to the wheel, the show is adding a new office from RMD and 4 new umbrella rides mounted on one trailer from Dalton.  This is on top of the 5 rides that are being delivered to the show from Wisdom.  The Monster Truck Ride debuted at the 2023 Florida State Fair and the Himalaya and Sizzler will be making their midway debut soon.

The show also purchased dual 500 KW generator trailers from Showmen Supplies to keep things running smoothly and looking ahead to 2024, the show will take possession of two new European rides; a Bertazzon Wave Swinger and a first of its kind in the US, two story dark ride.

While the addition of new rides and attractions will certainly help keep customers coming back to the Dreamland midway to gain new experiences with family, Destefano has added another new purchase that most carnival companies don't even contemplate; a fairgrounds the company will operate in Elberton, GA.

Dreamland is no stranger to promoting their own events, from extensive advertising and ticket sale promotions at mall still dates to producing two large fair dates on Long Island; Funfest — now in its 6th year, and the Empire State Fair at Uniondale's Nassau Coliseum.  About 50 - 60% of the company's dates are self-promoted and produced.  Many dates include not only advertising but free acts such as Victoria's Circus, petting zoos and other grounds attractions.

“We have a way of doing things that has been successful for us,  and producing our own events gives us the opportunity to spend the money we want to on advertising and promotions and still adhere to a guiding principle of low or no gate admission for our events.  We want to see as many people on the midway as possible and an expensive gate admission can keep them away,” said DeStefano.

In fact, He put his money where his mouth is at the Nassau Coliseum event, spending a large amount of money to buy out the parking from the venue and offer free parking to his fair guests.  The move was well received by fair attendees and attendance grew year over year.  At Long Island FunFest, held at Suffolk Community College in June, there is no gate admission, but plenty of entertainment for attendees.

Dreamland took the next step into the event production business this past year by purchasing the 90-year old 12 County Fairgrounds in Elberton, GA.  When Dick Carl, the current owner of the fairgrounds and former carnival owner himself, called DeStefano to talk about playing the fair, the Dreamland owner flipped the script when he asked if the fairgrounds might be for sale.  ‘It is for sale” Carl replied and later the two met at Carl's home in Florida to iron out the deal points.  The two worked out the major issues and it went to the lawyers to finalize the sale.  

After the papers were signed, Dreamland was the owner of the 23.5 acre fairgrounds and their expansion into the event business proceeded.  

Shortly after purchasing the grounds, a parcel of 3.5 acres next door to the fairgrounds came available and the company purchased the lot for additional parking.  Next, a building and land next to the fairgrounds, owned by the county, was offered to them as long as they allowed the building to be used by a local non-profit. DeStefano purchased that land as well and his family members are now the proud owners of a 32 acre fairgrounds with the two purchases.

DeStefano has big plans for the fair and its expansion including adding to the size of the midway and increasing the entertainment and advertising budgets.  Dreamland will play the fair for the first time in 2023, with a unit coming out of the Fryeburg Fair and heading south.  The fair will run October 19 - 29 in 2023.

Becky Hitchcock, daughter of Dick Carl, has been managing the fair and will stay on to do so for Dreamland.  She will be working with the Dreamland team to rent the grounds for off-season uses and they are looking at other revenue-generating opportunities.  

Dreamland is hoping the 2023 edition of the Twelve County Fair, with the addition of grounds entertainment and an expanded advertising and promotional campaign will grow the event to new heights.

Welcoming new rides and attractions and purchasing its own fairgrounds, Dreamland Amusements has expanded its midway as well as its vision for the future.  But that is not the only place where the DeStefanos have expanded.  This year, Bob and Kathy DeStefano were happy to announce the birth of their 6th grandchild, and maybe the future manager of the Twelve County Fair, in Elberton, GA.
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