According to co-owner Chris Barton, Pride of Texas Shows is a family business that’s born – and bred to continue. Working with his father, Doug Barton, the two have over 40 years of experience, with 26-year-old Chris in charge of business and tech aspects that keep the company in the forefront of the amusement industry.
Originally founded by Ed and Betty Burlingame in the 1960s, the company was purchased by the Barton family in 2006. The father and son team were both raised in the amusement business, and plan to keep their carnival thriving long into the future. Doug Barton, worked as head electrician for Bill Hames Shows, before purchasing Pride of Texas Shows from Burlingame, and taking on the former Burlingame route.
Based in Elm Mott, Texas, the company provides rides, games, and food concessions to fairs, festivals, and carnivals throughout the state. The company operates seasonally from January to November.
Among their more popular rides are Zero Gravity, Vertigo, Cliff Hanger, Giant Gondola Wheel, and the Alien Abduction.
“This year we added new three rides,” Chris Barton notes. “A Sizzler, an ARM Ali Baba, and a Cliffhanger from Battech.”
Barton says that “Over the last 3 years we have added a lot. We added two new Chester built food trailers, a Battech Zero Gravity ride, an ARM Vertigo, an Owens’ Crystal Lil’s, and a Puppy Roll from Gold Star MFG.” He adds that Pride of Texas also purchase four skid-mounted car rides from Dalton Kid rides, a Mulligan Sea Ray, and four new Lifetime Products ticket boxes and ATMs.” In short the “pride” keeps growing exponentially.
The Sizzler and the Ali Baba are big hits for the company.
Tamer rides were also in high demand this year, such as the carousel, the child-centric Puppy Roll, Super Slide, and Crystal Lils. The latter is a two-story glass house with a mirror maze on the bottom floor, trick mirrors and a spiral slide that’s popular with all ages, but often has particular appeal for kids.
The youngest carnival-goers have not been forgotten, with a large collection of kiddie rides that include farm tractors, a Marvel Maze, and the aptly named El Paso Train. A number of the carnival’s kiddie rides were purchased in 2014.
All rides have been upgraded to feature LED lighting that enhances brightness and appeal on the midway while also reducing electrical costs to operate.
While rides are a big part of Pride of Texas Shows’ appeal, games and food concessions are also important along the carnival’s route, which covers Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
“Attendance has been up for us this year,” Barton attests, noting that this has been consistent through all three states that the company covers. Their final stop of the 2018 season was October 25 through 28th in Beeville, Texas, where the show featured 25 rides. Armbands are priced at $25 and individual tickets are just $1, a price point that remains steady for the company, from rodeo shows to the San Antonio Raceway.
Recent events included the Brazos Valley Fair and Rodeo; the Guadalupe County Fair and Rodeo, and the Central Texas State Fair. Many of the larger fairs and events Pride of Texas serves have been working with the carnival for many years. The carnival also provides corporate rentals and rides for film sets. All in all, it has been a busy season, Barton reports.
Traditional foods are strong sellers for the venue, and include cotton candy, popcorn, curly fries, corn dogs, pizza, nachos, funnel cakes, deep fried snickers and Oreos, and the thirst-quenching 'You Pour Slushies'.
When it comes to games, the focus is on prize-every-time games, like Ring-A- Duck. Offering games such as these keeps kids happy, and makes sure players of all ages feel they’re received optimum value from the game.
Pride of Texas uses attractive signage with fun cartoon figures throughout the midway area, asking guests to “pitch in” and throw away trash to keep the midway clean, announcing “Smoke Free” zones to keep “Kiddie Land a Smoke Free Area,” and guiding attendees to watch their step over covered cable walkovers. Likewise, benches, screens, and ticket booths feature colorful, bright signage with the Pride of Texas name and its tag line: “Entertainment with Pride.”
The carnival uses social media such as Facebook to promote events, including offering promotions such as the chance to win free wristbands with event likes and shares.
Barton notes that in his opinion, the most unique aspect of Pride of Texas is how much of a true family business it is. “My company is strictly family. Me, my wife and my father run the company. We all do something. My wife handles the office, my father lays out all the lots, and then I do everything else.”
And like their carnival guests, the Pride of Texas family crew also greatly enjoys each of their events, and has plenty of fun.