News

Source:Argus Leader

Sioux Empire association keeps longtime vendor

The Sioux Empire Fair Association voted Wednesday to sign a contract with its current carnival vendor, Armstrong Shows, over two other suitors, swayed in part by a proposal that included a $180,000 loan to the fair association with a potential forgiveness clause and a revenue-sharing plan.

But the nature of the loan could raise some critics’ eyebrows as the fair tries to get back to normal after a year marked by scandal.

The loan will be arranged by carnival owner Todd Armstrong but comes from private investors who wish to remain anonymous. The fair association still is emerging from the cloud of a $647,000 embezzlement by former office manager Kathy Gourley and from a climate of mistrust by the Minnehaha County Commission, which owns the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds. That mistrust was based on a perceived lack of transparency on the part of former fair association CEO Matt Adamski.

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Source: By Peggy Ussery – Dothon Eagle

Step right up, folks, and take in the sights of Black Jack the Giant Steer and Hercules the Giant Horse. Or, sneak a peek at the World’s Smallest Horse, but don’t touch — he bites.

You can see it all for only a couple of dollars.

It just wouldn’t be a carnival without the oddities of the world on hand. And the 66th National Peanut Festival certainly has it’s share of the unusual. The festival continues through Sunday.

“I would say he’s at least 1,500 to 2,000 pounds heavier than he should be,” owner Rebecca Smith said of Black Jack, a Holstein-Chianina mixed steer who weighs 3,250 pounds and stands 6-foot, 4-inches tall.

Next door is Hercules, a Belgian horse that weighs about 2,800 pounds and stands 6-foot, 6-inches tall. Born in Wisconsin, the 10-year-old horse eats a bale of hay, 25 pounds of grain a day and drinks 25 gallons of water.

Along the midway, carnival worker Ray Ledetter mans a booth for Oreo — billed as the World’s Smallest Horse, smaller even than a dog. The miniature filipina may be smaller than some large dogs, but he still overshadows a chihuahua.

A sign over Oreo’s enclosure provides a warning — “I Bite.”

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Source: BY DAWSON BELL – FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Fans of the Michigan State Fair said most of their good-byes in September, when the oldest fair in the country closed for what they feared was the last time.

Those fears were realized Friday as Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed a $7.1-million appropriation (most of it from fair-related revenue) approved by the Legislature in an attempt to save the 160-year-old fair. The veto likely ends any hope the fair had of surviving in its traditional form, although supporters hope to find other financial support and uses for the fair and fairgrounds at Woodward and 8 Mile Road.

In her veto message to the Legislature, Granholm said that “given current revenue constraints, tax dollars can no longer subsidize State Fair operations.”

One of those fans, Mary Ann Michalski of Roseville said Friday she was saddened but not surprised by the news.

“It’s a shame. It’s understandable in this economy,” Michalski said. “But we had the oldest aquarium,” on Belle Isle, “and we shut that down. We have the oldest fair. … We’re just letting these jewels go.”

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Source: Chris Baysden – Triangle Business Journal

There were a whole lotta people at “A Whole Lotta Happy.”

North Carolina State Fair officials said Monday that this year’s fair – which used the promotional slogan “A Whole Lotta Happy” – broke records for total and single-day attendance.

The fair drew 877,941 attendees this year, beating the previous record of 858,611 in 2007.

The crowd on Oct. 25 also set a single day record of 104,370.

Fair spokeswoman Natalie Alford said that several days of good weather helped boost attendance. She also thought that the recent economic slump might have helped as well.

Tickets for the fair were $7 for adults at the gate and $5 in advance – an affordable recreation alternative for folks who had stayed home and pinched pennies for months.

“People… have been just itching to get out and do something fun and the state fair is fun,” she says.

Powers Great American Midways provided the rides for the fourth time this year. The company is slated to pay the fair $5.50 per paid admission ticket.

That would generate $4.8 million in revenue based on an attendance of 877,941. But Alford said the attendance figure includes some complimentary tickets and that she wasn’t sure yet how much revenue the fair would generate from the event.

The fair ran from Oct. 15 through Oct. 25.

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By Dwight Dana | Morning News

The Vivona brothers are at home for the 47th year with the Eastern Carolina Agricultural Fair under way through Sunday at the ECA fairgrounds.

The brothers, Morris, 89, Dominic, 77 and Phil, 74, are owners of Amusements of America (AOA), which provides the rides and everything involved with the annual fair. Dominic and Phil are graduates of Duke University with business degrees.

The family has been in the carnival business since 1940. Before that, they were in the frozen custard business.

“They didn’t have any ice cream places in those days like the Dairy Queen and Caravel’s,” Morris said. “So we had a frozen custard machine that we took to different carnivals. We made the custard in front of our customers, and they had to dip it. Today, you just put a cone there.”

The Vivonas traveled widely with carnivals until 1940, when the carnival owner told the family that he was putting in his own ice cream.

“My father said we’re going to start our own carnival,” Morris said.

There just happened to be a Ferris wheel left over from the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

“We bought the Ferris wheel,” Morris said. “We took it and the ice cream machine and we played local festivals in New Jersey. Then, we bought a merry-go-round, a swing ride, an Octopus and more equipment.”

There were six brothers when they started. Three are left.

Amusements of America’s first southern headquarters were in Sumter from 1954 to 1972. They then moved to Miami from 1972 to 2008.

The company is now headquartered in Florence.

“We love Florence,” said Dominic, who lives in Mount Pleasant with his Charleston-born and bred wife, Helena.

“When we close up here Sunday, we go to Charleston for the Coastal Carolina Fair,” Dominic said.

The brothers are married, and their wives travel from fair to fair with them. Additionally, their children are involved in different facets of the business.
How do they manage to get along so well?

“We haven’t found each other yet,” Morris said.

“No, it’s because they don’t have any guns,” Helena quipped.

“The bottom line is we have a lot of patience with each other,” Phil said. “We don’t have any problems.”

The season begins at the end of March and runs through the first week of November. The brothers are on the road 8½ months out of the year.

What do they enjoy the most?

“All of this has a certain thrill to it,” Phil said. “When the lot is full, all the rides have lines to them and everybody is having fun, you really get a jolt of excitement.”

“It’s a happy business,” Helena said. “We see happy faces all the time.”

Morris says it’s been a good life, one he would do over in a heartbeat.

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I have a good married life,” the New Jersey native said. “I’ve got good kids, good brothers, and they have good kids.

“Our children know what to do. They know how to set the fair up, take it down, do the booking and operate it. We’re just out here to help them.”

Dominic says the most popular ride is the roller coaster followed by the Fireball.

And there’s a new ride this year called the Extreme.

“The Extreme has done very well,” Dominic said. “It goes real fast.”

Among the other new faces AOA has on tap this year are Rosaire’s Royal Racers, the magic of Lance Gifford & Co., the Fearless Flores Circus and Thrill Show and live bands playing daily.

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