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Reithoffer Gears Up for 2019 Season; Continues to Build Western Route
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Reithoffer Shows, now in its 124th year of business, has already kicked off the 2019 season in Florida with the Highland County Fair, Sebring; Southwest Florida Fair, Ft. Myers; and the Collier County Fair, in Naples, among others. President Rick Reithoffer says “We look forward to working with all of our fairs and festivals as we embark on 50 plus events in 16 states.” The show will be on the road for the next nine months.

Reithoffer terms some of his most popular rides as roller coasters. “We actually have five Super Spectacular Coasters, two Family Coasters and two Kiddie Coasters. These include the Indy 500, Galaxy, Wild Mouse, Rampage, Racing, Wacky Mouse, Wacky Worm, Iron Dragon, and Ride your Dragon,” he says. “But I think the most popular rides amongst all ages are the wheels and carousels. They are a staple of every midway, and we have four of each. We also have a number of Super Spectaculars and One of a Kind Rides that people love such as the Huss Tornado, Stinger, Tango, Speed, and Sky Flyer.” He adds that music rides are also favorites with fans, such as the Super Himalaya, Music Express, Himalaya, Arctic Blast, and Tidal Wave,” he attests. “Picking a favorite is a personal preference, really. Each and every person you ask will have a favorite ride based on what they enjoy most, or even a ride that may be something they ride every year as a tradition that brings back many happy family memories from their childhood.”

As for the most popular foods at his events, Reithoffer says those would be “Anything on a stick. People want convenience, so if they can get good food that they can easily enjoy while they wander the midway taking in all the sights, they are happy travelers.”

 And speaking of  traveling - Reithoffer explains that the carnival has recently added a number of fairs to their western route, and are currently working to add more. 

 Asked his most successful or fun fair, he says that he loves all of them. “Each one has something different. We, of course, look forward to coming back to the fairs that we have had for many, many years to see our friends who have become family. We also have a few of our newer fairs that we are excited to get back to and cultivate the friendships we have started, and add those special people as part of our fair family.”

 According to Reithoffer, what the changes he's seeing in fairgoers today and the overall fair experience, is that “People not only want to experience the newest and best rides, but they also want the amenities that make their visit a more pleasant experience. We like to include landscaping around the midway entrances and throughout the midway area.” His company has also offered several additions to fairs that make things more convenient for attendees. “In 2016, we developed a mobile App to provide information at your fingertips about everything from the food available to the height requirements on each ride. We also provide an abundance of seating areas with benches and shade. This year we have added a few phone charging stations, and are working on baby changing areas. All of these little extras make it more convenient and fun for our guests.”

 As far as promotion goes, the company relies heavily on social media as an outlet. “Depending on the location we utilize multiple avenues to be sure the public is aware that we are in town and ready to help make great family memories,” he says, but social media is always a part of the mix. 

 He wants people to know that the company is “a family business”. Not only do we have  several generations of Reithoffer family members working within the company, we also have many of our employees who have been with us for 20 years or more. We are very proud of what we bring to our fairs and tirelessly work on making improvements and impressing our guests every year.”

 The carnival has two large units, the Blue Unit and the Orange Unit, with about sixty rides on each. Reithoffer himself operates the Blue Unit, along with his wife, Marianne and his two sons, Matthew and Ricky. Ricky's wife Vicki and Rick's nephew, John Stoorza are the office managers. Along with Ricky and Matthew, the midway operations are overseen by Gary Alberry and David Alberry. On the Orange Unit is Pat Reithoffer III, with his two sons Ryan and Patrick. His sister Jan Reithoffer Stoorza, her husband Jack, and Pat's daughter Suzanne Reithoffer Blake manage the office operations. Ryan Reithoffer and Tommy Popovich manage the ride operations. He adds “We have multiple people behind the scenes who have been with us for so many years, too many to list, but each and every person on Team Reithoffer is an integral cog in the machine. We even have one of our former fair managers that now works with us as our business development and marketing manager, David Grimm.”

The company's main concessionaires have been with the show for a long time. On the Blue Unit, Bobby Pugh has been with Reithoffer for more than twenty years managing concessions; on the Orange Unit, Craig Nelson has been with the company for 30 years as a concession owner and now as their concession manager.

The company began in 1896, with the purchase of a steam-driven carousel by Julius Reithoffer. Julius emigrated from German and settled in Duryea, PA. Other rides, starting with a Ferris Wheel, were soon added, and the show ran successfully through the Depression and both World Wars. Creating their two large separate units, Reithoffer Shows was able to play two state fairs at one time, and add bigger and newer rides, starting with the first big portable wheel in the U.S., the Dutch Wheel, added in 1983.  Currently, the company is working to convert all rides to energy-saving, attractive LED lighting. And in 2015, the company premiered its new Smart Card system, a ticketless fair midway. The successful system was developed with American Changer, and it requires less connectivity than other such systems, according to Reithoffer. The cards have embedded microchips rather than magnetic strips, making them easier and faster to use as well.
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