North American Midway Entertainment may not be a name you’re familiar with, but if you attended this year’s Chelsea Community Fair then you’re acquainted quite well with this company. North American Midway Entertainment has provided all the fun fair rides like the Freak Out, Cliff Hanger, and Merry go Round, games, and food like the highly anticipated funnel cake sundaes on behalf of our community fair for the past 30 years.
North American Midway Entertainment, or NAME for short, is owned by Blake Huston. The company provides rides, games and food to fairs and festivals in about 140 communities in 20 states, as well as 4 Canadian provinces. NAME prides themselves on building strong relationships and helping every event they attend grow in attendance and revenue. They are a family owned company that originated as Pugh Shows, and was founded by Blake’s Grandfather R.T. Pugh. (Fun fact, the first ride R.T purchased was a Tilt-a-Whirl.) The company now has an inventory of 225 rides.
Being curious about the rides I asked, how do you choose the carnival rides that stock your inventory? Blake confided, “We attend trade shows in the winter months to visit with ride manufacturers to see if there are new and inventive rides being built. If we find one we think the people will go nuts over then we get it for them. We have great relationships with many of the ride manufacturers. In fact the guy who built the Cliff Hanger ride, he's based in Oregon, was at the Chelsea fair this year. We like to keep things fresh by adding new rides such as the Star Dancer and the Double-Decker Merry Go Round. Both of these rides joined our arsenal in 2019. We always look forward to expanding to make sure that each year there is a new experience for you and your family.” The rides are also not cheap. They very in cost and Blake informed me, “a new Kiddie ride will cost in excess of $250,000, and a new Spectacular ride can cost over a million dollars.” When it comes to the process of setting up and tearing down rides, Blake shares, “I will come in a few days before the start of the fair to measure and mark where all the rides will be placed for the upcoming fair. Our crew will begin setup on Sunday before the fair and will finalize all safety measures before the rides begin to operate on Tuesday. We had 3 nationally certified inspectors on staff during the duration of the 2019 fair. We had a total of 110 employees on site this year”.
Blake says “carny life” is not how the TV shows portray it to be and adds, “Carnival life has seen a drastic change over the last couple decades, prior to employment any applicant must pass a National background check, drug screening, and must have a valid ID and social security card. It is a way of life to be on the road for 7-8 months a year and be away from home. We make a lot of sacrifices being on the road all the time, but are also rewarded with the people we meet and the cities we get to visit. My wife Amy and I have 3 Children, Cooper,9, Lucy,8, & Banks, 4..... They travel with me during the summer months and will go back home in the fall for school while I'm still on the road.”
What goes into making a triumphant fair? NAME gives credit where credit is due by saying, “There are a multitude of things that go into making a successful fair; it begins with having a good Fair Board that wants to put on a great event for their community. It takes a lot of sacrifice on their part with the time and resources they donate and put into the fair. Having a nice facility that patrons want to visit, as well as having good family entertainment.”
When I asked Blake and his family to share what their favorite part of a fair is they answered, “Our favorite part of the fair is getting to meet new people, and seeing and visiting with old friends. Chelsea is one of our favorite cities to come to, it feels like home here, there are many people living in the greater Chelsea area that we would even consider family.”