MontanaFair is August 13th - 21st, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Mighty Thomas Carnival

The Mighty Thomas Carnival provides the midway at the 2010 MontanaFair in Billings August 12-21. The traveling show will provide thrilling rides, fun games, and tasty carnival treats at the Metra Park fairgrounds for the 31st straight year. Founded in 1928 in Lennox, South Dakota, by Art B. Thomas, the carnival is now based near Austin, Texas, and is providing its 83rd season of summer fun and excitement for fair-goers, including 40 events in 9 states. The 2010 tour began in Laredo, Texas on February 11, then winds through Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Utah, Arkansas, and Louisiana before returning home to Texas in late October.

New attractions on the Thomas Carnival midway this year at the fair:

Scrambler-- A carnival classic produced by the Eli Bridge Company out of Illinois, this rotary ride thrills young and old alike with its ever-turning cars that speed riders along and gives the sensation of being inside the centrifuge of a high school chemistry lab.

Starship 4000: Wisdom Manufacturing’s latest update of the archetypal space ship simulation, the feeling of weightlessness never gets old as the ship races around at over 20 revolutions per minute. This brand new ride features groundbreaking technological advances in its mechanical operation as well as dazzling new lighting and scenery packages.

Himalaya: A high-speed re-creation of an alpine snowmobile trip through the snow-capped peaks and valleys of the famous Asian mountains.

Hi Roller: This ride features a train that loops upside down around an oval track while simultaneously rotating the entire track over and over again. Riders in enclosed cars won’t be sure which way is up and which way is down while enjoying this incredible attraction.

The centerpiece of the midway is the towering Century Wheel, a 70 foot ferris wheel with gondola-style seating designed to be enjoyed by the entire family. Other thrilling rides include the spinning Thunderbolt, the exhilarating Zipper, and the swinging Pharaoh’s Fury. Adventurous riders will enjoy the whirling dervish of the Spider and the exciting wave action of the Moby Dick. The Super Shot, a 90-foot tall drop tower, always draws a crowd to watch the hilarious reactions of riders who have just completed the free fall to the bottom.

Thomas Carnival classics include the Tilt-a-Whirl, Merry-Go-Round (check out the new artwork on the carousel horses) the Crystal Lil's House of Mirrors, the Dodgem Bumper Cars, the Cliffhanger, the Dizzy Dragons, Tornado and more. In the children's midway ride area, look for the Marioland, the Barnyard, the Speedway, the Rio Grande Train and the live ponies, to name a few. The whole family can enjoy the Cobra Coaster, as well as the Fun for All Funhouse and the Fun Slide.

Popular carnival games include water races, the duck pond, balloon pop, basketball, break-a-bottle, big ring-o-bottle, grab bag fish 'til you win game, bulldozer-token push, and the rope ladder. Everyone enjoys the colorful prizes--hot items this year include extra large stuffed bananas and crayons, big bouncy knobby balls, teddy bears, dogs, frogs, picture mirrors, computer portraits, buttons, t-shirts, wall-hangings and a fantastic array of neat trinkets and novelties.

Enjoy great traditional fair food items on the midway, including corn dogs, foot long hot dogs, caramel and candy apples, funnel cakes, pizza, hamburgers, popcorn, cotton candy, sno-cones, and soft drinks, and for the first time, blooming onions.

Thomas Carnival facilities include generators and wire, light towers, benches, rest and shade areas, trucks, and trailers, repair shops, laundry and uniform facilities, offices and living quarters in addition to the rides, games and food concessions seen by the public on the midway. One hundred fifty traveling workers are joined by locally hired employees and helpers to set up, operate, and then dismantle the show after the MontanaFair closes late on August 21.

The carnival company is owned by Tom and Margaret Atkins and John and Carolyn Hanschen. Tom, president and general manager, is a graduate of South Dakota State University, where he majored in zoology. He has served the show for over 40 years, and is a leader in the carnival industry. He is a past president and trustee of the Showmen’s League of America, the carnival industry’s fraternal organization; and is also past president and trustee of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, the industry’s trade organization, and he was elected to the board of directors of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. Margaret and Carolyn are daughters of Bernard and Marvis Thomas, previous company owners. Mr. Thomas, an outdoor amusement industry icon, passed away in 2007. Marvis enjoys her retirement in Austin, Texas. John joined the company in 1976, and is a graduate of Macalester College, St. Paul, with a major in economics and business. He was elected Showmen’s League president in 1999, was 2007 chairman of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, and is currently treasurer of the Showmen’s League of America.

Thomas Carnival has been named to the OABA’s prestigious Circle of Excellence. Carnival operations and procedures were audited by an outside evaluation team, and found to meet the standards for entry into the Circle. Only a handful of carnivals in the United States have been so recognized. In addition, Thomas Carnival contractors passed the evaluation and were also named to the Circle of Excellence and include Paul Atkins—Atkins Enterprises, Inc.; Margaret and Tom Atkins’ Midway Food Company; Dennis and Della Bossman’s Midwest Concessions; Steve and Alice Pegg's Pace Productions; Brandon and Katherine Petree’s Louis and Claire Concessions; and Dave and Dianna Winkey’s Wink Enterprises.

For further information, contact Tom Atkins at 512-750-3345 or John Hanschen at 512-282-4442.