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Carnival & Fair News

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Guadagno and Sons and Schoeppner Shows Concentrate on Southern California Route
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Carnival operators Guadagno and Sons are proud of the fact that safety and experience are paramount for the company, as well as its cutting-edge rides. 

“In the past year, we just added a brand-new ride, Star Fire. It's a 110-foot tower thrilling swing ride,” co-owner Tony Guadagno says. 

The company works carnivals, fairs, and events such as the Malibu Chili Cook Off. “We do a lot of city events and private venues as well as churches and schools, and American League Baseball events. We are what you'd describe as a 40-miler. We cater to Southern California, but we do go out of state several times a year,” Guadagno explains. He also rents to some large-scale private parties “The wheel rents from $10,000 to $30,000 dollars, so not too many private parties can handle something like that,” he notes.

According to Guadagno, the Star Fire ride has been extremely popular for the company, as well as its Century Wheel. Star Fire was recently a top draw at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. 

Located in Garden Grove, Calif., the company has been around since 1954, when Guadagno's father started with a kiddie airplane ride at The Pike, an amusement zone located in Long Beach, Calif. Today, the company owns and operates a variety of rides and attractions, including the fast-spinning Funnel Force; family attraction Metro Maze, with its two stories of mirrors and trick mirrors; a Super Slide; Tilt-a-Whirl; and Zombie haunted house attraction among them.

The company utilizes H2B Visa  workers from Mexico, paying the costs of round-trip travel and other travel related expenses for their crews, and providing housing for them. 

Guadagno is delighted at these seasonal workers' family orientation, and safety-consciousness; many return annually.  Along with the company's commitment to safety, Guadagno & Sons has also made a commitment to the environment. The company has eliminated over half of its daily paper usage by utilizing portable computers in their daily operations. In fact, all of G & S Shows' daily ride inspections are handled by using tablet computers – not a single piece of paper is used. Ride ticket purchases are encouraged online, with extra savings for guests. 

“We're not the biggest carnival operators around, but we have a lot of experience and dedication to our guests,” Guadagno relates. “Our crews are all extremely experienced and alcohol and drug free. They are hard-working, and really go a long way toward changing that perception of a ‘bad name' that other carnival staff has been known to have in the past.” He adds “We go through great expense to offer the best service we can come up with, and really our safety record sells itself.”

In fact, Guadagno offers safety seminars throughout the year, and provides a rigorous safety training program for all his workers. 

When it comes to food, Guadagno dishes out mostly traditional carnival favorites. Among the more popular items on the menu are corn dogs, candy apples, and nachos. “We've stuck with the standards over the years,” he says. 


Schoeppner Shows

Like Guadagno and Sons, Schoeppner Shows is also located in Southern California, and currently also has a SoCal based carnival route. Ten years ago, the company operated in a variety of states, traveling as far away as North Dakota, but rising fuel costs brought the company closer to home. Schoeppner is located in Lancaster, Calif., and has been operating since 1983, according to owner Phil Schoeppner. The company also sets up at venues that include fairs, still dates, churches, and schools, including the Tri-County Fair and Stampede, in Winnemucca, and a California City parks and recreation-sponsored carnival in that high desert city. Two of its biggest shows are in Oxnard, Calif. at the Strawberry Festival, where he welcomes some 200,000 visitors a day, and for the city's Cinco de Mayo Festival.

All in all his route includes a wide swath of California and parts of Nevada. “We used to go all the way to Wyoming, even Minnesota and we'd work our way back. The snow starts to fly out there in December,” he recalls. But between high fuel costs, family concerns and “just getting a little older – you try to slow down.” Schoeppner says many of his seasonal crew have been with him long-term, and one team member is 72 years old. While still going strong, staying closer to home works best, at least for now.  

Among its most popular rides are the Hurricane; the aerospace-industry-crafted Rock O Plane,  a super slide; and a Medieval-themed fun house. 

His newest attractions include a family balloon ride and the thrill ride, Space Shuttle. “It's a big space ship that basically swings back and forth and holds 40 people.” The latter has been a big hit for the carnival.

Schoeppner describes his carnival as having a “a strong family atmosphere. We don't play the super big spots, but we are packed everywhere we run,” he asserts. 

Ticketing and wristbands are “still a great bargain,” Schoeppner attests. “But with inflation things have gone a little crazy and we have been bumped up somewhat. Wristbands are $30, tickets are 24 for $20, and it takes two to four tickets per ride.” To promote the fair, he relies on social media and some local radio spot placement as well as posters which he relates go up “all over.”

And when it comes to food, Schoeppner has stuck with traditional carnival fare just as Guadagno has. “The tried and true options work best,” he states.
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