Tanana Valley fair drops contract for carnival rides

FAIRBANKS — The Tanana Valley State Fair will not renew its contract for mechanical rides with Golden Wheel Amusement, which sued the nonprofit group last year over what the company said were contract violations connected to competing attractions.


Golden Wheel, the only Alaska provider of large mechanical rides, has moved a Tilt-a-Wheel, Ferris wheel and other rides to the Fairbanks fair for more than 30 years.

The fair board chose not to renew the contract for the entertainment staple after provisions for a 2014 contract could not be worked out, fair board president Dave Hoeffel told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

“We were not able to come to an agreement on terms and affairs with Golden Wheel,” Hoeffel said. “We felt it was in the community’s best interest to not further our contract with them.”

Rides from another source could be brought in for the fair scheduled for Aug. 1-9, Hoeffel said.

Jacqueline Leavitt, Golden Wheel co-owner, questioned that statement.

“There are a lot of excellent providers out there, but all of those providers are otherwise engaged in August,” Leavitt said. “It’s a big time for fairs, carnivals. There are a lot of bigger fairs that have much larger attendance than Tanana Valley State Fair ... that can’t even get a carnival there.”

Leavitt said the contract her company sought was not much different than past contracts. It contained “slightly more enforceable” and stronger language, she said.

“With any contract there’s back and forth, but we were basically just proposing ... essentially the same contract that we had with them in the past,” Leavitt said. “In their negotiations, they asked for a lot more things than they had in the past.”

Additions requested by the fair board would have made it unprofitable for the company to travel to Fairbanks, she said.

“We would basically make nothing if we came to Fairbanks under that contract,” Leavitt said. “It offered many things we couldn’t agree to.”

Golden Wheel sued after the 2013 fair, claiming breach of contract for the fair allowing the operation of other attractions. Hoeffel disputes those claims and said the other attractions were grandfathered in.

That lawsuit has not been resolved.

Hoeffel would not comment on whether the lawsuit had influenced the decision on 2014 contract, or how the board would attract another company to provide rides.

“We’ve got several different options that we’re looking at right now, and we intend to have just as good a carnival next year,” he said. “There will be rides next year.”


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