More than 100 people gathered for the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions’ (NEAAPA) 106th Anniversary Education Conference and Annual Meeting March 18-20 at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel, Springfield, Massachusetts.
The highlight of event was the induction of Gene Dean, owner of Fiesta Shows/Dean Enterprises, Seabrook, New Hampshire, into the NEAAPA Hall of Fame during Tuesday evening’s dinner meeting. Accepting on his behalf was Gene’s son, E.J., who chronicled his father’s history in the industry, which started at Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts, before the family branched out into the carnival business in 1967. Today, Fiesta Shows is said to be New England’s largest carnival with more than 70 rides. Gene, who was unable to attend due to prior commitments, is the first carnival operator to go into the prestigious hall since its formation in 1998.
Two days of seminars kicked off Monday afternoon with an International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Regional Meeting. John Hallenbeck, vice president and executive director of IAAPA North America, provided an update on the association’s activities including membership, educational opportunities, trade shows and the IAAPA foundation. Erika Scheffer, IAAPA’s director of state advocacy, addressed industry issues on state, regional and national levels. Topics included flights over amusement facilities by unauthorised third-party drones, the minimum wage, and a school calendar with a post Labor Day start. An evening reception capped off the day with more than 50 in attendance.
Tuesday’s agenda started with generational expert Meagan Johnson’s keynote address. She pointed out that for the first time in history businesses now have five generations working side-by-side. Each generation has what she termed as a “signpost” that drives motivation and influences company loyalty. Communication between co-workers is more essential than ever to deliver good customer service, she asserted during her interactive and energetic session.
Other seminars rounding out the day included Cashless Payments Driving Revenue, moderated by Anthony Palermo of ParkPass by Connect&Go, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, No Influencers Here: Real Journalism Is Back, moderated by Brenda Connell of TK Public Relations, New York, New York, and Impacts Of A Post Labor Day School Calendar: speakers Henry Veilleux, Sheehan Phinney Capital Group, Concord, N.H., and Brian Gottlob, PolEcon Research, Dover, New Hampshire.
A vendor trade show took place during the afternoon with more than a dozen NEAAPA members displaying their products and services.