NAME has five units traveling across North America. “We play 124 dates annually and attract a little less than 15,000,000 people each year. We are the largest carnival company in North America and probably the world,” says Korek.
Traveling with NAME in both the U.S. and Canada, Korek has a unique perspective on the outdoor amusement business in the post-pandemic years. While the trends remain consistent in both countries, it was interesting for Korek to see the same patterns in Canada play out just a year after the U.S. “We had an exceptional post pandemic year in the U.S. in 2021 and we’re having a great year back at our Canadian events in 2022,” says Korek.
In total, NAME plays 9 large fairs in Canada including the Calgary Stampede, K Days, and the Canadian National Exhibition. “In 2022 we’re experiencing post-pandemic fairs in Canada as they were a little slower to get back open again. It was an exceptional season,” says Korek.
With such a big company and so many events to play, the team at NAME has to constantly update ride inventory to distribute amongst the units. Korek is proud to announce that NAME purchased 10 brand new rides after the 2021 season. “Part of our success at our events is the updated ride arsenal,” says Korek. 2 Raptor Runs, 2 Elephant Dumbo Rides, an as-yet un-named roller coaster, an X-Drive, a Wave Swinger, Ring of Fire, Disco, and Vertigo will all be coming soon to NAME events.
Some of the above-mentioned rides are already on the road and the rest will be delivered for next season. “Our Raptor Runs just arrived, we expect the elephants and the x-drive in the new year and the roller coaster is coming soon,” says Korek. While he is not prepared to fully disclose where the rides are going, he confirmed that the Wave Swinger, elephants, and roller coaster will definitely be going to the International Unit of NAME. Reflecting on the past two years, Korek is encouraged by the resiliency of the outdoor amusement business as evidenced by the strong comeback of the events with which NAME partners. “The last two years have been encouraging for the industry. Fairs and carnivals have some money again after tough financial situations and it’s been a big boom in the outdoor amusement business. We’re back on firm footing again,” he says.
In 2022, NAME has set records at all nine of their Canadian fairs. “We had a spectacular, over the top Calgary Stampede,” says Korek. The Canadian debut of the Super Wheel was “unprecedented in its popularity,” he added. Continuing the Canadian success, Korek reports:“we blew the doors off the joint at the Big E.” Back in the U.S. for the fall, NAME has seen their fairs reach or exceed 2021 levels.
For Korek, traveling internationally with NAME has revealed how similar fairs are, despite location.
“We can see there’s an appetite for fairs to do well. The communities in which the fairs serve often have a lot of similarities. We also saw some hesitancy from families to come back out and visit the fairs. It was kind of apparent in the fall last year in the U.S. and we’ve seen the return of the families this year which helped us reach post-pandemic levels,” says Korek. Similarly, he noticed the lack of families on the Canadian segment of the route this season and he expects them to return in 2023.
“We really attracted the 16-29 market but less families in Canada. We know they will come back in the future which will add to increased spending and supporting revenues. It’s a pretty apparent pattern.”
Looking ahead, Korek feels positive about the 2023 season while there are still some economic uncertainties. “I feel the 2023 season is going to be good. It depends on how big the recession is and how the economy does, but we’ve seen before that fairs and carnivals can be recession proof,” he says. “We’re rolling along here at NAME and we’re looking forward to a great 2023.”