On The Earie Tom Powell, OABA News Ambassador A

s many believe about the basketball, baseball, football and hockey seasons, the real important part happens when playoffs are held and champions crowned, as my beloved Boston Red Sox were in this year’s World Series. In the NFL, the Super Bowl, of course, is the ultimate prize, as are the coveted Stanley Cup in the NHL and the Lawrence O’Brien Trophy in the NBA.

That same trend seems to be taking place with carnivals, many which have struggled this year with wet and cold springs, and then showed terrific results once the weather has cooperated, usu- ally toward the middle or end of the season. Weather has been the most important factor.

While there are many cases, one that stands out is Butler Amusements of Fairfield, California. Rich Byrum, who has been show president in charge of bookings and public relations for 34 years, said record grosses were estab- lished at every spot the carnival worked after August 1.

The 126th annual Central

Washington State Fair, Yakima posted its second highest attendance ever of 321,600, and Butler had its high- est grossing fair in the 27 years it has played the spot. “When we played the Kern County Fair in Bakersfield, we recorded the highest grossing day in the 45-year history of the show on the second Saturday. That beat the previ- ous record that was set earlier in the year at the California Expo and State Fair that was held in Sacramento,” said Byrum. That was despite attendance being way down due to extreme heat. Asked how that could happen, Byrum said, “It’s one of those things that are tough to explain.”

I first met Byrum when I was editor

of Amusement Business and he was man- ager of The National Cattle Congress in

8  OABA ShowTime Magazine | DECEMBER 2018

Waterloo, Iowa for 10 years. He said he worked a year and a half for Manager Jeff Kearns at the Michigan State Fair, and I knew Kearns as well as his wife, Lois, who attended the last pig roast ever hosted by Rod Link of Link Shows at his home in Fremont, Ohio. Another thing I remember about that occa- sion is Dave Hansen, whose wife was Sandy O’Hara, known as the Improper Bostonian in burlesque circles, who picked me up at the airport in a new Cadillac and ran out of gas. I said sar- castically that if I had a car like that I could afford the gas.

Hansen, who later worked in PR for Lou, Jo and Kelley Weaver of Interstate Amusements of America, had a gift of gab similar to that of the late Bob Jackson, who spent many years working for Jerry Murphy on Murphy Brothers Exposition. You had to take what they said with a grain of salt, but both were very good at their job in promoting the show. Hansen and I walked into a Zale’s jewelry store and he pronounced at the top of his lungs, “Hi, I’m Dave Hansen with the Link Shows.” I quivered and thought to myself, who in the world cares?

Getting back to Byrum, he said, “We had a record ride gross at Fresno (where attendance for the October 3-14 event was a record 632,410). It’s amazing, but we’ve set records everywhere we played in the state of Washington.” That includes Clark County, Ridgefield, the Evergreen State Fair, Monroe, Spokane Interstate Fair, and Yakima. “Add to those, Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, California; Western Idaho Fair, Boise, and Eastern Idaho State Fair, Blackfoot. Idaho. We’ve had a good year.” Butler was founded by George and Evelyn Butler and their son, Earl (Butch) Butler, all of whom are deceased.

Mick Brajevich, who is married to Butch’s daughter, Kris, is the company’s

president and CEO. His brother-in-law, Lance Moyer, is COO and Executive VP. Lance’s wife, Jill, is Kris’s sister. Butch’s other children — Sean and Kelley — are in management.

Greg Stewart, who has been gen- eral manager at Yakima for 47 years, was presented with a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Reward at this year’s Washington Association of Fairs convention. Asked if he had any plans to retire, he replied, “I’m still having fun.” Stewart, who is an OABA director, is also an avid fan of the Washington Cougars college football team and its eccentric coach Mike Leach, who keeps winning games. “They wrote that he used a play in one of the games that he devised while sitting at a bar with friends in Cambodia. Are you believing that?” Yes!

When I wrote about my favorite base- ball player of all time, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, I received an e-mail from Gene Dean, Sr. of Dean and Flynn Fiesta Shows whose son, E.J., was OABA chair in 2017. He said, “I still think the best hitting feat in the history of base- ball is Ted Williams batting average of .388 at the age of 39. Keep praying for Notre Dame (from where he is a proud graduate).” I wrote back that I agreed and that in an interview I had done with Williams, he emphasized the fact that included no leg hits. In other words, this hero in real life who lost five years of his career to two terms of military service didn’t beat out any infield grounders.

I heard from fellow Philadelphia Phillies fan, Bob Anderson, who was with National Ticket for 32 years. At the time, he wrote, “Yep, Phils are toast. But if they get Harper (Bryce), move Hoskins (Rhys) to first where he belongs and make a few moves, they could be back quickly.”

Anderson, who retired five years

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