Local News

Strates Shows Signs Deal To Run 2003 State Fair Midway

Posted July 31, 2003 5:13 a.m. EDT

— The state finalized a contract deal with Strates Shows to run the midway at the State Fair, but not before it turned into something of a circus.

Attorneys for Amusements of America, who ran the midway last year, tried one last time Thursday to convince Judge Narley Cashwell that the state had no right to throw out their contract. But late Thursday afternoon, Cashwell ruled in the state's favor.

On Wednesday, Interim Ag Commissioner Britt Cobb announced Strates Shows won the midway contract in the abbreviated bid process. He defended the sealed bid process as the fairest way to pick a carnival company. Amusements of America never made the cut to bid.

"If that's not politics, I don't know what is. If it's a pig, it's a pig and that's a pig," said Joe Cheshire, attorney for Amusements of America.

In its bidding criteria, the state included language calling for detailed information about indictments or investigations. Cobb voided the original Amusements deal after accusations surfaced that the company made illegal payments to gain favoritism.

Attorneys with Amusements Of America admit the company unintentionally violated campaign finance laws, but they still argue they earned the contract fairly.

Officials with Amusements of America have said that they will now sue for damages.

On another fair note, the Department of Administration canceled the cable lift contracts at the state fair and the Mountain state fair. Owner Jimmy Drew was indicted in the Phipps scandal earlier in June. Agriculture leaders are reviewing their options.

Amusements of America brought in 10 new rides and expanded the kiddie section. Many fairgoers liked the changes and the state wants to keep the public happy, so the contract with Strates Shows mandates a larger section for children. Strates Shows promises a fair equal to or better than last year's.