|Type||Privately held company|
|Key people||Jim Conklin (son of founder) Frank Conklin (grandson of founder)|
|Industry||Amusement - Midway|
|Products||Amusement Ride rental/operation and fun fair management|
|Divisions||World's Finest Shows, Conklin Supershows, Carnival Group|
Conklin Shows (Conklin Group, World's Finest Shows, Conklin Supershows, and Carnival Midway Management Company) is the largest traveling amusement corporation in North America. The 75 year-old company operates 'fun fairs' at various summer agricultural shows across North America. The company has a long history in Canada, providing entertainment for generations of kids and adults. The organization used to operate the midway services for some of Canada's largest summer fairs including the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, the Calgary Stampede, and Edmonton's Capital EX. The company owns and operates midway games, rides and shows. In 2004, Conklin sold its rides, games and route to North American Ride Entertainment.
Conklin Shows as it was known in Canada and the US, now operates under the name "World's Finest Shows". The carnival provides the midway at fairs and exhibitions, including, Miami, Florida’s Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, Edmonton, Alberta’s Capital EX and Calgary, Alberta's Calgary Stampede, as well as Toronto, Ontario’s CNE, The Canadian National Exhibition."
Conklin Shows was founded by James Wesley "Patty" Conklin, (b. 1892 in Brooklyn New York and raised by adopted parents — the Conklins). He got his start as a sideshow host at Coney Island in the early 1900s. By 1915 he was running his own gambling games at various midways across the southern United States.
In 1916 Patty Conklin joined up with his adopted father and established Clark & Conklin Shows. Lasting four seasons playing at various shows around the mid west, the company folded after the death of the father.
In 1921 Patty moved the show north to play at the Winnipeg Exhibition. Due to a problems with the fair, their participation was canceled. While returning back to the United States with a train car full of prize merchandise, Patty stumbled upon a show just outside of Winnipeg. They joined up with the operator of the fair, International Amusement Company and worked all of the remaining Canadian shows that year.
After working the road hosting small fairs coast to coast for 20 years, Conklin Shows bid on and won the midway contract for the 1937 Toronto Canadian National Exhibition, which the company won. The fair, one of the largest in the world, was a prized show.
Having the CNE contract helped turn it into a profitable company In the early 1950s Conklin Shows borrowed over half a million dollars and began to build permanent attractions on the CNE fairgrounds of Exhibition Place. In 1953 they constructed the Mighty Flyer, a wooden rollercoaster, that lasted until the early 1990s.
The early 1970s saw the company begin to diversify, including establishing Maple Leaf Village (now Casino Niagara) in Niagara Falls Ontario along with running a venue at the base of the CN Tower in Toronto.
In 1975 Conklin Shows biggest rival, Royal American was banned from Canada due to tax evasion. So by 1976, Conklin won all of the contracts previously held by the competitor - including the Calgary Stampede and Vancouver Pacific Exhibition.
The 80s and 90s were a time of growth for Conklin as it operated across the prairies with stops in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Saskatoon. It also opened up a number of smaller fairs as well as provided a schedule and route for many smaller independent shows such as Lauther Amusements and Billy Trauck Amusements. These companies although bound by contracts to the larger conklin shows operated as separate shows.
Conklin also added many of its super spectaculars, some of which are never seen north of the border. Conklin was the first to have a travelling double loop roller coaster which took 28 trailers to move. This mammoth coaster named "The Doppel Looper" only made the trip as far north as Toronto and even this was not financially feasible after the late 90s. Along other rides that were one of a kind in a travelling carnival, were the Drop of Fear, the G-Force, and The Mark 1 roller coaster.
As time progressed Conklin began to show signs of financial strain that was synonymous with the entire travelling carnival industry. Favorites such as the Zipper and Octopus as well as The Kamikaze and Rainbow were phased out and sold as cost cutting measures. Independents that had long travelled as a part of Conklin Shows were also phased out as a cost cutting measure. Finally other rides such as the Drop of Fear and the Wildcat roller coaster were phased out as cost cutting measures and allowed to be sold to competing companies and shelved in West Palm Beach.
Finally, Conklin Shows joined with the former Farrow Shows from Jackson Mississippi, Thebault-Blomsness (Astro Amusements and All Star Amusements), and former President and CEO of Ticketmaster Group, Frederic Rosen, to form the newly minted North American Midway Entertainment Co. or N.A.M.E. N.A.M.E. Website. This became official in Columbia South Carolina in 2004. In January 2006, N.A.M.E. also acquired Mid America Shows Press Release, and several contracts and rides from Cumberland Valley Shows.
N.A.M.E., a subsidiary of Stone Canyon Entertainment, with a major investment by The Cypress Group, provides fairs and events to over 130 events yearly. Now included are Cinquo de Mayo in New Orleans as well as the Dade Co. Fair, The Illinois State Fair, the Kentucky State Fair, the Dothan Peanut Festival, and the Big E Eastern States Exposition. New and more expensive rides have been added to its line-up but at the cost of many of the old favorites. Frank Conklin while owning part of N.A.M.E., has left the management of the combined company to CEO and President, Mike Williams, who has over 20 years in the carnival business, and COO & Executive Vice President Danny Huston.
Conklin Group is made up of two operating units: World's Finest Shows, Conklin Supershows, and the Carnival Midway Management Company.
This is a list of just some of the venues they provided midway services for in the past: