Wade Shows

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Source: By Vianna Davila – Express-News

At every great carnival, one can surely find cotton candy, giant stuffed animal prizes — and thrill-seekers, high atop every spinning, whirling ride.

Tavi Holmes is one of them. For as long as he can remember, he’s been coming to the carnival at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo looking for the rides that make him feel like he’s flying.

“I’m a hyper dude, and it’s an adrenaline rush,” said Holmes as he stepped off the Freak Out, a ride where a crane lifts and swings seats in the air as passengers squeal. “I just feel free.”

There are just shy of 50 rides at the rodeo carnival, said Gary Denton, assistant manager for Wade Shows Inc., which puts on the carnival. And the so-called thrill rides are always a significant draw for people looking for that extra-special rush, he said.

“They like to live on the edge, see how far they can go,” Denton said.

In the Walsh family, the thrill-seeker is William, 10, who was gearing up Friday afternoon to ride the Super Shot: Passengers sit in chairs arranged on a center pole; the seats lift slowly, and then plummet before coming to a sudden stop just above the ground.

“He’s our rider,” said his father, Bob Walsh. “He rides ’em all.”

Walsh called to his younger son, Patrick. “You should go ride it!”

Patrick, 8, shook his head and smiled. “It looks freaky,” he said. “I’m not willing to lose my life on a ride.”

There are three types of carnival rides, said Red Cox, general manager of Wade Shows. The kiddie rides, like the carousel and minicoasters, are for small children. The intermediate ones, such as the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Sizzler, can suit both children and adults.

Then there are the major rides — “something that excites you when you get on,” Cox said — the up-in-the-air, whooosh rides.

For Frederick Douglas, his favorite thrill ride was the Power, a 132-foot-tall yellow crane with a set of seats at each end.

“I’m addicted to it right now,” said Douglas, who had just gotten off work at the AT&T Center, where he converts the flooring for different events. He found it difficult to describe how riding the Power felt, though he expressed it later in a series of whoops and hollers as he went for his fifth — yes, fifth — ride.

“It’s a rush,” said operator Teddy Bear Feldmann. “Being 130 feet in the air is just awesome.”

But plenty of visitors come not for the thrill but for the memories.

The Tilt-a-Whirl is still one of the top 10 rides, though it’s considered intermediate and was originally popular in the 1940s or ’50s, Denton said.

Mothers and fathers want to ride with their children on the rides like the carousel, Denton said, “because when they were young, their mothers and fathers put them in the carousel.”

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By John Goodspeed – Express-News

Getting a fruit cup sample seems like a simple thing.

Walk up to a booth at the Family Fair during the 60th annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, which opens today at the AT&T Center, and someone hands it to you with a smile.

But a lot of ingredients go into delivering that tasty treat. A sponsor may need 40 pallets of product to hand out. Deliveries, though, must be made when the grounds are closed to avoid endangering the crowds.

 PHOTOS BY JERRY LARA/glara@express-news.net Larry Williamson unloads parts of the Genesis attraction at the carnival.

PHOTOS BY JERRY LARA/glara@express-news.net Larry Williamson unloads parts of the Genesis attraction at the carnival.

“So our volunteers take forklifts to get the stuff, drive a certain route and stage the pallets behind the scenes to keep the area behind the booths neat and tidy just so you can walk up and say, ‘I’ll have a fruit cup’ — and they’re handing them out all day,” exhibit director Ellen Andrus said.

That is just the tip of the funnel cake at the festival, which helped earn several awards in December, including best of show, from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. The honor came on the heels of the fourth-in-a-row large indoor rodeo of the year award from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“Everybody won the IAFE award,” Andrus said. “Family Fair is a major component, but we are all slices of the pie.”

Hers, though, is a heaping serving.

Andrus coordinates activities with more than 1,000 people, including 600 commercial exhibitors, some 120 bands, the carnival, concessionaires and about 200 volunteers.

“There’s no way to do it without them,” she said of her share of almost 5,000 rodeo volunteers.

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Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Just over a year ago, the RC-48 was set aside, stuffed into open-air containers on the New Jersey boardwalk.

The largest portable roller coaster in the nation is now the newest showpiece at the South Florida Fair’s midway.

Lined with University of Florida flags, the orange-and-blue roller coaster wasn’t in any shape to run last year when it was purchased by Frank Zaitshik. The owner of Wade Shows Inc., the company that runs the fair’s midway, Zaitshik took a gamble with the 5-story-tall roller coaster, which had been sitting unused for three years.

The RC-48 almost debuted at last year’s fair, but rebuilding and testing the roller coaster would have cut it very close with the fair’s opening. Zaitshik instead chose to set it up at the Florida State Fair, which would offer an entire month to make sure everything ran smoothly.

“It was like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “We had to lay it all out, and then try and figure out how to put it together.”

The gamble paid off. The RC-48 worked and was the top money-winner at that fair, Zaitshik said.

Wade Shows has invested between $500,000 and $600,000 in the RC-48, the vast majority spent on work put into the roller coaster after it was purchased, he said. If the company put it back on the market today they would ask for $1.2 million.

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By C. Ron Allen | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The South Florida Fair officially opens Friday, and officials say it will be bigger than ever. The fair runs through Feb. 1

This year, the carnival midway will introduce the RC-48, considered the largest portable roller coaster in the United States.

RC-48 of Wade Shows

RC-48 of Wade Shows

The fairgrounds is off Southern Boulevard seven miles west of Interstate 95, west of West Palm Beach.

Gates will be open from noon to 10 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, except on Martin Luther King Day when the hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The regular hours on Saturday and Sunday are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Midnight Madness will be from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturdays.

The fee is $25.

General tickets are $15 for 12 and older, $9 for 60 and older, $8 for 6 to 11 and free for children 5 and younger.

For information, go to southfloridafair.com or 561-793-0333 or 800-640-3247.

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By Michael Prelesnik – Matt’s Carnival Warehouse

The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids was the site for the 124th annual Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (MAFE) Annual Convention, held January 8-10, 2009. The convention featured a trade show, banquet, hospitality suites, workshops, round table discussion sessions, a Showcase, and Mega Raffle drawing night. Over 1200 fair board members and fair officials were in attendance at the convention.

Despite the tough Michigan economy, show owners and fairs were optimistic and excited to begin the Michigan Fair Season this summer. All major shows that play Michigan were represented at the MAFE Convention.

Skerbeck Brothers Shows, of Escanaba announced their recent purchase of a Mulligan Wheel from Belle City Amusements of Deltona, Florida. According to Co-Owner Bill Skerbeck, the wheel has already been transported to winter quarters in Escanaba, and new paint is planned before the wheel’s Michigan debut in April. New dates on the 2009 route the show will be playing include Laporte, Indiana as well as the Croswell Agricultural Society Fair in Croswell, Michigan. Additionally, a two year contract extension for 2010 and 2011 was finalized with the Ingham County Fair, of Mason. Joining Bill at the convention was co-show owner, Joe Skerbeck, their mother Arlene, Bill’s wife CJ, Jamie and Sonja Skerbeck, Dustin and Cindy Skerbeck, Carly Skerbeck, and Nicole Skerbeck.

Representing Elliott’s Amusements of Mason at the convention were owners Tracy and Debbie Elliott, Tracy’s Dad, Jim, their son Nick, and concession manager Nate Rowe. The Elliott’s signed two new fairs for the 2009 season, the Oceana County Fair in Hart and the Huron County Fair in Bad Axe. Other recent fairs added to their summer route included the Berlin Fair in Marne and the Cass County Fair in Cassopolis. According to Tracy, the show just acquired a Mack Himalaya from Dick Carl as well as four tractors purchased from Arnold Amusements. Late in the fall, the Elliott’s purchased a Show Me Grab from Phyllis Mercurio of Detroit. Jim reported he has sold his Lemonade trailer, and will be purchasing another one in time for the show spring opening in Lansing on April 8.

Back: Nate Rowe, Elliotts Concessionaire Manager, Jim Elliott, and Tracy Elliott. Front: Nick Elliott and Tony Anderson co-owner of Schmidt Amusements. Photo courtesy of Michael Prelesnik

Back: Nate Rowe, Elliott's Concessionaire Manager, Jim Elliott, and Tracy Elliott. Front: Nick Elliott and Tony Anderson co-owner of Schmidt Amusements. Photo courtesy of Michael Prelesnik

Despite the tough Michigan economy both the Elliott’s and Skerbecks were confident about having good attendance during the upcoming season. A general trend at the convention was to hold the line on ride specials, wristband prices and gate admission. Many show owners felt that despite the rising operation costs, this just wasn’t the season to raise midway pricing for Michigan fairgoers.

Ivan Arnold was at the convention and mentioned there is a list of ambitious projects being conducted at Winter Quarters in Florida. The Zipper, Tilt-a-Whirl, 1001 Nights, and Raiders are all being sand blasted and powder-coated for the 2009 season. The new look of the Zipper and 1001 Nights will debut at the Florida State Fair in Tampa in February. Although no new dates were added to the Arnold’s Michigan route, Ivan stated this season the show has maintained the same Michigan route as last year, and he was excited about the rides being re-built and was looking forward to a strong summer in Michigan.

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