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Modern Midways Expands Route and Ride Arsenal
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Modern Midways had a solid 2022 season after a record run in 2021 according to owner Robert Briggs. With some new rides, new locations, and a reliable all-American management team, Briggs is focusing on growing his route and keeping the show in top-notch condition.

For Briggs, 2022 was the first year he finally got to play his full, original route since 2019. “We finally were able to return to our Illinois spots this year after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. Those events were great for us; the community was ready to get out and have some fun after missing out for two years,” says Briggs.

With increased expenses on everyone's minds across the country, Briggs turned his focus to creating affordable family-friendly experiences on his midways. “Our prices stayed consistent with 2021. We don't want to out price ourselves,” says Briggs. Offering weekday promotions coupled with online, pre-sale discounts through Innovative Ticketing, Briggs was able to increase spending and attendance on weekdays at his events and give families a much-needed break for the wallet. “Despite inflation across the country, we still saw pretty strong spending from our guests,” says Briggs. “Giving them an affordable opportunity to visit goes a long way.”

Throughout the 2020 and 2021 events he was privileged to play, Briggs kept his midway lineup the same size as it was before the country was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; this was a matter of principle for Briggs and a reason he thinks families return year after year to his events. “Unlike other shows, we used all our equipment in 2021 and didn't downsize. We hustled and worked in 2020 and 2021 to give a consistent product. Those years we saw people that were not your average yearly fair patron. Now they're coming back because they had a good time in 2020 and 2021,” he says.

Giving credit for a successful season to his dedicated team, Briggs feels thankful to have such a reliable management team and staff on the road with him. Like many show owners, Briggs' staff is headed by his own family members. “My wife Robin heads up the office and does all our insurance requirements. My son Robert worked with us this summer before heading to his freshman year of college at DePaul University, and my youngest, Nicholas, worked in concessions this summer at just eleven years old,” says Briggs.  His brothers Frank and Eddie own concessions on the show.  Other notable management staff include long time showman Brian Morrissey who handles the Miami office, unit managers Ryan Vawter, Mike Robb with his wife Renee, Dr. Jean Brake, our permitting and sponsor liaison, nephew Eddie Briggs and Heather Owens, who run food operations, Bill Wilson who handles logistics, Gordon and Melissa Sanders, who handle transportation management, and David Theil who heads up the winter quarters and paint shop. “We are still using all American employees and do not rely on the H2B program,” says Briggs.  Our core of management and personnel live by the words, “we will not be outworked.”  We strive to deliver the best for all our Fair Boards and patrons.

Several new rides joined the Modern Midways arsenal this year. “We bought a new Expo Wheel from Roger Wadkins for our second unit. Denny's Electronics added an interactive center sign as well as a custom bottom marquee for some fantastic lighting,” says Briggs. Denny's Electronics also redesigned a center Water Race.  Modern Midways also welcomed a reconditioned ARM Hangover (Kamikaze) ride and an Orient Express. “In terms of support equipment, we bought five tractors, a telehandler, and another bunk house trailer from Heaton's Forever Bunk Houses,” he says. New for 2023, Briggs ordered a Fabbri Park Giant Wheel. “This is the first one in the country that's portable and we're supposed to get it in March,” says Briggs. The transportation trailers had to be re-engineered for American road standards and Briggs ordered a spectacular LED package to complete the ride.

Briggs is excited to announced that Modern Midways signed the Citrus County Fair in Inverness Florida which was previously held by another midway operator since 1958. “We're always looking to expand and grow our route and we're looking forward to working with the Citrus County Fair,” says Briggs. “We have built long-standing relationships with our fairs, and we cherish that.”

Playing about 90 locations between the two units this year has kept Briggs and his team rather busy. “We pretty much run year-round. We have a Christmas event with Brian Schuman that finishes up in December and then we're back on the road in January,” he says. Luckily, the Modern Midways winter-quarters locations in both Florida and Illinois work year-round to keep equipment fresh. “We'll have a few projects to accomplish before the thick of the 2023 season. Currently, we're working on reconditioning our ARM Touchdown ride,” says Briggs.

With a strong route already in place for 2023, Briggs is looking forward to a successful year.
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