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Jolly Shows Presses on despite personal and economic setbacks

Jolly Shows Carnival Opens for 2022 Season
The show began its 2022 season in early April at a mall outside Baltimore, MD.

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One month into their 2022 Season, the Joseph Family, the team behind Jolly Shows, is happy to report their success both looking back on 2021 and for the start of 2022. After a couple of years marred by the Covid-19 pandemic and tragic personal loss, overcoming adversity is now second-nature to the tight-knit family. Dominic Joseph, co-owner and Vice President of Jolly Shows, speaks proudly of his family members and Jolly Shows' success.

After losing his father, Peter Joseph, in October of 2020 shortly after losing his grandfather in April of 2020, Dominic Joseph was understandably apprehensive about the future of the family carnival. While he has been a part of the family business for about seven years in a more minor role, Joseph was suddenly thrust into a role with much greater responsibility. Luckily, he was able to turn to his family for the support and guidance he needed to successfully move forward.

“My father was a key part of our operation. At first, losing him seemed like something we couldn't overcome but all of my family members have stepped up to try to fill that void,” says Joseph. Paul Joseph, Peter's brother, manages the operations and maintenance of the rides on the show. Dominic, his sister, Tiffany, and cousin, Mark, handle the day to day business and administrative operations. Dominic mostly focuses on permits and locations while Tiffany and Mark manage the employees, field customer questions or concerns and generally make sure everything runs smoothly. During set-up and tear-down, it's all hands on deck. “Everyone has added something to their plate since losing my father,” says Joseph. “Some family members that maybe had a more minor role now have a major role.” Traveling exclusively in Maryland and Northern Virginia, Jolly Shows carries twenty-six rides, eight games, and four food stands.

Unable to open at all in 2020, the Josephs took on a lot of maintenance projects at the beginning of 2021 to prepare for the season. “Our equipment just sat for the season in 2020 so it was a lot of paint jobs, checking on the lights, cleaning things up, and making sure we were ready to run at our best,” says Joseph. After making sure equipment was in tip-top condition, Joseph and his family put Covid-19 protocols in place on the midway to prepare for permitting in anticipation of the 2021 season. “Maryland was not the easiest state to get open in. We were ready with our operational plan and had done a lot of the work in advance, so although permitting was more difficult than normal, we didn't have too hard of a time getting open,” says Joseph.

While Jolly Shows was ready to hit the road in 2021, several of their larger fair events cancelled, forcing the Josephs to reroute to some smaller malls or shopping centers. “At first it was scary and a little nerve wracking to open in 2021. We weren't sure how the public would react, but by the end of the season, we were having our best run yet. Everything seemed like it was getting back to normal and people were just excited to enjoy a family-friendly outdoor activity. We got lots of great responses to the show,” says Joseph. He describes 2021 as a ‘sigh of relief' after 2020.

According to Joseph, a big part of Jolly Shows' success even at smaller locations and still dates, is the online ticketing program run through Innovative Ticketing and their advertising strategies managed by Innovative Marketing. “Advertising is absolutely crucial to the success of the carnival,” says Joseph. Using a combination of cable, radio, and digital advertising, Jolly Shows allocates substantial funds at each location to get the word out to the surrounding community. “We know the word gets out when our phone starts ringing and people are asking questions. If people aren't asking questions or showing interest that's when you're in trouble,” says Joseph.

Coupled with online sales through Innovative Ticketing, the Innovative Marketing advertising strategy focuses on describing a family-friendly atmosphere at the carnival and creating packages and online sale specials which afford customers a discount for committing to attend the event. “Our online tickets have been amazing. It's easy for us to use and jump starts our sales even before the event begins,” says Joseph. “When customers buy online it's more convenient for them and they're so happy with the savings they tend to spend more, stay longer, and often repeat a visit to the carnival.” Innovative Ticketing captures the online ticketing customers' email addresses so Joseph can re-market to those who purchased at next year's event. “The marketing data is invaluable. It's important for us to have that as well as a fresh, updated social media and website presence to keep the customers coming back,” says Joseph.

Looking ahead at the 2022 season, all of the cancelled 2021 fairs are back on Jolly Shows' route for this year. “We're anticipating even bigger and better runs at these events after a two-year break,” says Joseph. Since opening in March, Joseph and his family members have noticed increased excitement from the public about the carnival. He reports that people are spending money on the midway and are generally happy to get outside and do something fun. “I think people are more grateful after the Pandemic to have the opportunity to have local entertainment that's safe for the family,” says Joseph. Jolly Shows will continue their season through October and then head to winterquarters at the Anne Arundel Fairgrounds for maintenance work.

After a banner year in 2021, Joseph predicts that 2022 and future seasons of the carnival will see increased business when compared to pre-pandemic years. “I think we need to put an asterisk next to the year 2021 because nobody could've predicted the business we had,” says Joseph. “I believe that after the Pandemic, we've had more people visiting the carnival who normally wouldn't have, and I think that success will continue for years to come. Compared to 2019 I think we'll have a great season,” says Joseph.
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