By Rich Place
Visitors to the midway at this year’s Cattaraugus County Fair will see a new offering of rides and attractions owned by a family already familiar with the annual fair.
Powers & Thomas, a company owned and operated by siblings Eddy Powers and Tracy Thomas — along with their spouses Amy Powers and R.D. Thomas, respectively — will begin setting up rides on Sunday after being in Ridgway, Pa. for five days.
The company is a family offshoot of a company operated by the siblings’ father. That organization, which had some of the same employees, visited the fair annually for years, according to Charlie Belknap, marketing, media and public relations official for Powers & Thomas.
“Pretty much everyone has been there and we look forward to going back.” said Belknap. “But we have a lot of upgrades to the show, a lot of amenities that other carnivals don’t have. That’s what gives us that amusement park feel.”
Among the attractions is Speed, a 100-foot high thrill ride dubbed on the company’s website as featuring “a gut-wrenching G-force” ride that is “not for the faint of heart.”
“It’s going to be the tallest ride ever at the Cattaraugus County Fair,” Belknap claimed.
He touted that safety is the top priority of Powers & Thomas, noting the company was recently awarded North Carolina’s Safety Amusement Star Award. The company also takes pride in being clean and friendly.
“Everything is color coordinated and we pride ourselves on safety,” he said. “All of our employees are not permitted to smoke on the midway when anyone is working. Everyone has photo IDs and they are all in uniform. We think of ourselves more as a traveling amusement park than a carnival.”
The midway rides are divided into three groups: kiddie rides, which children ride on themselves; family rides that are designed for members of all ages; and thrill rides for those seeking even more excitement. Many of the rides at the fair are featured on Powers & Thomas’ website.
But what Powers & Thomas brings to the fair doesn’t stop at the rides, Belknap said.
“We have benches and picnic tables for people to sit,” he said. “We want the people to come and have a place for parents and grandparents who are there with their children and grandchildren. Again, our whole thing we are trying to create is that amusement park atmosphere at the fair.”
The company earlier this week left the Chautauqua County Fair in Dunkirk before heading to Ridgway for the Ridgway Fireman’s Carnival that spans July 30 to Aug. 5. Then they’ll head to Little Valley to set up Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.
The midway opens at at 4 p.m. Monday and is open every day thereafter at 1 p.m.
Midway rides at the Cattaraugus County Fair are included with general admission. Ticket prices are $8 presale through July 29 and $12 at the gate.
“We are happy to welcome the next generation of Powers Midways – Powers & Thomas,” said Kristina Charlesworth Golden. “We look forward to working with them this year and developing a great midway for everyone to enjoy.”
More information about Powers & Thomas, including a list of rides and requirements for the rides, can be found online at powersthomas.com.