March 2002

Carnival Trade Show Extravaganza

February 8, 2002 - Today, Skip Doyle, Marketing and Sales Director for Stinson Band Organ Company, and I are sitting in front of the "Mighty 2000M" which is playing at the front gate of the International Independent Showman's Extravaganza and Trade Show in sunny "Gibtown" Florida. This is the second year the "Mighty 2000M", on loan by the Astro Amusement's Company in Chicago (delivered in the year 2000) has graced the front gate at the "Gibown" Extravaganza in conjunction with the Stinson Band Organ Exhibit.

Last November, the colorful Astro Amusements trailer mounted "Mighty 2000M" played to attendees at the entrance of the outdoor "Magical Midway" within the International Amusement Park and Attraction Exposition in Orlando, Florida, while Mr. Doyle's 187M "Mighty Americana" was exhibited at Stinson's inside exhibit along with a Style 29M Midi Band Organ. ("M" designates MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface - operating system).

The locals in Gibsonton, Florida have been complaining about a cold wave (65 degrees), but those of us from the north are sporting about in our shirtsleeves. The "Gibtown" Extravaganza brings tens of thousands of attendees from North America and Europe, and is the largest carnival equipment trade show in the world. Mr. Doyle and I were shooting jackpots (Carney language for telling stories) about interesting happenings in the early days before everything was so closely regulated. I will share some of the often-humorous tales with you in future issues of the Trader.

While Mr. Doyle and I were chatting and enjoying the sunshine, Mr. Ken Davis, from Biloxi Mississippi (a young 90 year old elder) and past owner of Funtime USA Park located in Biloxi, joined Mr. Doyle and I in conversation. Mr. Davis reflected upon his younger days when he was a sway pole artist doing free acts at fairs. One of what he called his most frightening moments surrounded a day in 1940 when he was doing his act in a Southern town. Sway pole artists used steel arm guards which fit over their arms for extra strength when doing hand stands 110 feet in the air. At the completion of the act, once back on the ground, Mr. Davis told of laying his arm guards on a flat bed truck when one of them fell to the ground. Upon impact a weld broke and the guard separated into two pieces. Knowing if this had occurred at the top of the sway pole, this situation would have probably ended in a terrible tragedy.

And, so it was told in the old organ shop!


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