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Wilson County Fair taps new carnival company

Staff Reports • Feb 5, 2018 at 3:02 PM

Tennessee’s largest fair will debut a new carnival company in 2018 after the Wilson County Fair selected Reithoffer Shows to provide the rides, games and some food for the 2018-2020 fairs, according to Reithoffer president Richard Reithoffer and Randall Clemons, president of Wilson County Promotions, parent company of the Wilson County Fair.

The fair’s contract with Amusements of America expired and the group did not renew for another year with the company, which had served the Wilson County Fair since 2008.

“We’re very pleased the fair selected our show,” Reithoffer said. “It was a perfect fit – location and the fair wanting the best quality available. We were impressed with the fair’s leadership – the directors are very committed, active and really involved in the fair. This is the largest and best fair in Tennessee and one of the top 50 fairs in North America. We spent a lot of time reviewing operations, lot layout and discussing future plans. We want to be a part of their master plan to make the fair even better”.

Reithoffer said Lebanon is mid-way on the Reithoffer travel route from the New Jersey State Fair to the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque.

“It is not quite half way, but pretty close. The stars were aligned relative to travel and availability,” Reithoffer said.

Clemons, who served as fair treasurer for 38 years, became president of the fair following the death of longtime president Hale Moss. Clemons said the fair wanted to seek the best carnival available –more spectacular rides, electronic ticketing and creative thinking for the future.

“Our executive board did a thorough job of reviewing carnivals and in the end, Reithoffer Shows was our best fit for the Fair. We liked the rides, staffing, new ticketing system, quality and cleanliness of the rides. We studied all areas of their business and Reithoffer had the entire package and they were available,” Clemons said.

The Wilson County Fair is located 20 miles east of the Nashville metro market, one of the fastest growing areas in America. The 2017 Wilson County Fair attendance was 488,299.

The 1000-plus fair volunteers gave more than 77,000 hours to produce the fair, which encompasses 270 acres, 150 events and more than 14,000 exhibits. A highlight of the facility includes more than 50 buildings of Tennessee history and lore called Fiddlers Grove.

The latest addition to Fiddlers Grove is the Moss Feed Store, constructed in 2017 by the Moss Family and the Fair Board in memory of the late Hale Moss. The Wilson County Fair is also the home of a new 78,000-square-foot expo center at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center, which was the dream of Moss and the volunteers for more than 20 years.

The Wilson County Expo Center took the fair to another level with competitive exhibits, fair pageants and Hometown USA located in the facility, according to Clemons. 

Reithoffer Shows is one of the largest mobile amusement companies in North America. Started 122 years ago by Germanborn Julius Reithoffer, with a steam-powered carousel in Pennsylvania, the company has grown to include 100 rides, as many as four units on the road and new technology including electronic ticketing.  Reithoffer Shows is regarded as one of the top carnivals to purchase spectacular rides, many of them from Europe.

Reithoffer said the Blue Unit would play the fair, providing approximately 50 rides including two roller coasters and the largest portable slide in North America-featuring seven lanes of fun.

Reithoffer Shows annually plays more than 50 events, including state and county fairs, festivals and corporate functions. 

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