GIBSONTON, Fla. - The Florida State Fair begins Thursday, but people in the carnival business have already arrived to see the latest and greatest in new equipment for their midways.
The 51st annual Super Trade Show and Extravaganza opened Monday at the International Independent Showman's Association in Gibsonton. It's where people in the carnival business from all over the world see the newest midway equipment, games and rides.
"Just take them to the absolute extreme that the human body can handle and bring them back down," explained Jared Davis of Wisdom Rides of America.
The company's new "Y-Factor" ride is being demonstrated. The new thrill ride costs nearly $800,000.
Many of the manufacturers and customers have been in the carnival business for decades.
"I really need to have one of those teddy bears. That's what it's all about," offered Tony Cassata of Bob's Space Racers in Daytona Beach. His family business has been building carnival games for nearly 50 years.
"It's a grandfather's grandfather's father," Scarlet Rush said of her family, who owns carnivals in Germany. Her young nieces and nephews are here riding a new roller coaster being marketed to carnival operators.
Joey Even of the International Independent Showmen says Gibsonton is a special place for the industry.
"This is the carnival capital of the world," he explained. For generations, show people have had special zoning regulations in south Hillsborough, which allow them to have equipment in their backyards. They also run a museum here and maintain quarters for retired show people.
The trade show runs through Friday and is expected to draw thousands from the industry. It's not open to the public, but the museum is.