By Ron Weber, MCW Editor
Gibsonton, FL — Overcast skies hurt attendance early on Thursday as the IISF Extravaganza entered its third day. By afternoon, the skies had cleared and crowds began to come. Many people have been visiting the MCW booth at the show and we get to keep up on the news and information that has occurred during the year.
Andy Deggeller came by to work on his website with Matt Cook and we had a chance to talk with him about Deggeller Attractions. Andy is Don Deggeller,s son and general manger of the show. Don is now the sole owner of the show, having purchased Greg Deggeller,s shares of the company. Jeff Deggeller still travels with Deggeller Attractions as well as an independent with his Wave Swinger, Cliffhanger, Dark Ride and funhouse.
A big change for the Deggeller this year is the move of the Virginia State Fair from the city of Richmond to nearby Doswell, VA, home of King,s Dominion. “The fair has done everything they could possibly do to make it (the state fair) successful”, said Deggeller. “I am very optimistic about the fair”, he added. Deggeller said the midway would be laid out similar to the midway as it was at Richmond International Raceway, the former home of the fair.
The show will be bringing in the same number of rides as they previously have had and they will be doing some additional landscaping to make their presentation even more attractive at the fair,s new home.
Deggeller Attractions will open next week at their hometown event, the Martin County Fair, in Stuart, FL. They will then play several dates in Florida before moving to Ft. Bragg, NC. From there the show jumps to Virginia Beach, VA for several weeks before spending the balance of the summer in VA and MD. They play the Howard County Fair, the Price William County Fair and several other events culminating in the Maryland State Fair over Labor Day, one of the Top 50 Fairs in the US. They then jump to Greensboro, NC before coming back to Doswell, VA for the Virginia State Fair. They then jump to Little Rock, AR for another Top 50 event, the Ralph Shoptaw-managed Arkansas State Fair, before ending the season in Deland, FL.
Deggeller Attractions has been busy in the off-season purchasing new equipment and working on several amenity projects. The bought a new office from Hi-Tech Trailers in Los Angeles. The modern design has a private office for Don Deggeller and 15 additional workstations with high speed connections.
In winterquarters, they have been refurbishing their Raiders and Ring of Fire. They area also developing some unique new facades for the midway that will double as storage for the show,s midway.
Deggeller had their foreign worker visas approved, both J-1 and H2B, and they will be taking on employees from Mexico and South Africa.
Another show owner that is optimistic about 2009 is Johnny “Fred” Miller, Jr. of Miller,s Spectacular Shows. He said 2008 was “fantastic, with the exception of fuel prices”. Many of his spots were up in 2008 and he took several fairs and lowered prices to drive business. In one example, he offered $10 coupons on a regular priced $20 wristband and found his grosses to be up from last year. In 2009, he plans to keep prices the same, offering bargains whenever possible.
Miller,s Spectacular carries 55 rides on two units. The main unit, run by Freddy, carries 30 rides and the second unit, run by his father, Johnny, carries about 20 rides. The units rarely join together and often are in different states. The show plays 11 states: MI, MO, AR, MS, OK, IL, LA, TX, NM, IN and KS. They jump 1,000 miles from DuQuoin, IL to Odessa, TX and 800 miles from Roswell, NM to Little Rock, AR for the Arkansas State Fair with Deggeller Attractions.
Spectacular rides on the show include a Mulligan Wheel, Orbiter, Pharoah,s Fury, Ali Baba, Wipeout, Screamer by A.R.M., Himalaya and an A.R.M. Super Shot. Their route includes the DuQuoin, IL State Fair, county fairs and many Michigan festivals. They recently acquired three fairs from Jimmy Reed of Reed Expositions, Odessa, TX, Lubbock, TX and Roswell, NM.
For 2009 they have added several new spring events in Louisiana and Arkansas as well as some new county fairs in Missouri.
At the end of 2008 they purchased a Dizzy Dragons and a new Quad Runner from Kevin Dalton. Also new in 2008 were a Tilt, second Tornado and a second Wave Runner. They are currently negotiating with Owens for a new piece, saying “you can,t go wrong with an Owens ride, they are a class act”.
Miller also hopes to make a few new purchases while replacing some older equipment at the show.
Looking ahead to the season Miller said “People are prepared to stay close to home. They are holding off on amusement park trips, so they will be staying local. People always want to be entertained”.
Moser Rides is another exhibitor at the trade show with rides to sell. On hand on the grounds is his Spring Ride, a 30, drop-like ride. He also has a like-new Speed Flip ride available for sale that is located at Bobby Myers, shop.
Moser introduced several new rides at the IAAPA convention including his Sidewinder, Gyro Loop and Bike Ride. He has sold several rides in the US in 2008 to parks and carnivals. Buyers include Palace Entertainment and Busch Gardens.
He said he is getting interest here at the trade shows and he hopes his US business will one day equal that of his European business.
One of the unique vendors at the trade show is Ty-Aut Designs. Their slogan is “we make new parts and we make old parts new”. The company makes lap bar and grab bar covers as well as replacement foam and padding for restraints and headrests. If your ride headrests or lap bars are beginning to wear, Ty-Aut can supply replacement foam to make them look new.
In addition to the foam coverings, Ty-Aut also does custom manufacturing, specializing in steel bending and fabrication, foam molding and urethane elastometer molding.
Rick Reithoffer also stopped by the MCW booth to show pictures of his new Zamperla Sky Flyer. The ride is in operation in Tampa and towers above the midway.
Reithoffer is a very strong supporter of the trade show and is consistently one of the biggest spenders at the show. Reithoffer encouraged all ride manufacturers to bring equipment to the show, even unsold rides, because they will generate sales. “If you are a ride manufacturer and you don,t come here with a ride, you are out of your mind”, he said.
Reithoffer related several stories about purchases made at the trade show. Two years ago, when the Full Tilt was introduced, he started speaking with Eric Bates with no intention of making a new purchase that year. By the end of the show however, Reithoffer had a brand new Full Tilt.
One year Rick and his late father Pat Reithoffer, Jr. were walking the midway, having already spent their budgeted amount for new equipment that year. They both spied the KMG Speed and were taken with the ride,s size and action. Rick went away for an appointment but when he returned, there was a large “Sold to Reithoffer Shows” sign on the ride. Finding his father, Rick began to argue that they had made an agreement about new purchases. His father quickly reminded him that the boss can spend the company,s money any way he saw fit.
After the trade show closed, many traveled the short distance to the shop of Frederiksen Industries for a display of a new L.E.D. light package by Rides 4 U. PBJ Happy Days, wheel was adorned with brand new lights that gave a dazzling show for those in attendance. The lights displayed in dozens of unique patterns, switching colors, pace and design.
Food and drinks were served throughout the night and the party and light show were a smashing success for Rides 4 U.