About Gambill Amusements

Gambill Amusement Show History

Gambill AmusementsThe company was founded in 1941 by Quinn, Ken and Lola Gambill in their hometown of Wintersville, Ohio. Their first investment was a pony ride which they took to local festivals, picnics, and fairs. As the years passed, mechanical rides were added and before they knew it, instead of an extra job it became their business.

Like any family business, through the years we were all called on to help in one way or another. Everyone was taught to take care of our customers and they would take care of our business.

A carnival is like a traveling town. We have a varied group of people just like in any town. Unlike the common notion that carnival personnel are Gypsies, tramps and freaks in today's world they could more likely be your next-door neighbors. A sample of the people in our organization would include an ex-mayor, a world class drag racer, a stock broker, a WPRA rodeo contestant, a state health inspector along with many teachers , mechanics and college graduates.

As in any small business the carnival industry is governed by many federal, state and county rules and regulations. Like the trucking industry we are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Act and at the present time employ as many certified drivers as most trucking companies. In addition, all of our employees must be tested in certified in order to be ride operators.

Back DraftNot only do our employees go through testing and certification but so do the rides they operate. In addition to being continuously inspected by trained personnel they must also go through an off season inspection program using such nondestructive test methods as ultrasound testing, magnaflux particle testing in various x-ray testing of hidden components.

In order to ensure safety, inspections from outside our organization are emphasized. We are regularly inspected by our insurance carrier and the states of West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. These are welcomed inspections because they have helped us obtain high safety ratings with all concerned. We are proud of the fact that Gambill Amusement has always been rated as one of the safest carnival operations in the country.

These high standards govern not only our rides but also all aspects of our operation including games, food, and attractions. Our food operation is highly regarded by the state health department and we have been invited to speak at seminars concerning portable food preparation. The guidelines governing our games are some of the most rigorous in our business with only family type games being allowed on our midway. Merchandising is a key factor in our policy.

Carnivals are one industry that hasn't been taken over by big corporations. Most are small businesses owned and operated by families that live, travel and work together.

In the height of the season, it's common to see three family generations working the attractions. And one school ends, children joined their parents on the road, keeping families together. At the present, Gambill Amusement is being operated by the 4th and 5th generations of its founders stressing the same basic values that have entertained families for the past 79 years.


On With The Show

For almost 100 years, traveling fairs and carnivals have toured America, entertaining communities of all sizes. Although many of the attractions have changed over time, the fun-loving spirit of this unique combination of shows, food and games has remained the same for generations.

Every year, when the fair or carnival comes to town people are a little bit happier. Customers, both young and old, look forward to putting their daily troubles aside for a while to ride the carousel, enjoy some cotton candy, or win a teddy bear.

And fairs are big business. In West Virginia there are numerous fairs held annually and dozens of smaller carnivals benefit local hospitals, churches, fire companies and other nonprofit organizations.

For the showmen who run the rides, games and concessions, it's a long season on the road.


All in The Family

Gambill Amusements Family

Carnivals are one industry that hasn't been taken over by big corporations. Most are small businesses owned and operated by families that live, travel and work together.

In the height of the season it's common to see three family generations working the attractions. And once school ends, children join their parents on the road, keeping families together.

By season's end, most showmen have earned a respectable middle class living and return home to make repairs and plan next year's schedule.


Rolling the Dice

Like most small businesses, fairs and carnivals are a financial gamble. Showmen put up their money, take their chances and hope for a reasonable return.

And the stakes are high. The most popular show rides cost over $200,000 each, and game and concession operators face rising expenses.

Carnival life is more than fun and games. Show men are concerned with everyday issues like taxes, maintenance costs and finding reliable help.

To top it off, the entire industry works at the mercy of the weather. While clear skies bring large crowds, rainy days can be lonely on the midway.


Partners with the Community


Carnivals don't just wander from town to town. Virtually every appearance is sponsored by a local fair board, service club or nonprofit organization that serves as a partner and receives a fee or percentage of revenue for playing host. Many local charities in nonprofit organizations depend on carnivals as a primary source of revenue.

In addition to raising money for local organizations, fairs and carnivals create spin-off benefits for merchants by attracting more shoppers and traffic.

Of course, showman spend their money in town too. Concessionaires purchase food stuff locally and large amounts of fuel are needed to run generators. The employees of the traveling small town also purchase their own groceries and personal items, benefiting the local economy.


Fair Family Fun

For years, many carnival people misunderstood and kept at arm's length. The constant travel and short stops in each town made customers suspicious of many games and attractions.

That's not the case today. With so much competition for the entertainment dollar, carnival operators can't afford even a hint of impropriety. Gambill Amusement is committed to providing safe and wholesome family entertainment for all ages. We were instrumental in helping to develop West Virginia Ride Inspections and licensing. We feel we have adopted strict guidelines regulating our game and food operations.

We hope this might enable you to have a better understanding of us as a business.

Gambill Amusements midway