Museum Past Events
Museum Past Events
Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 – Saturday, February 13th, 2016
Visit the International Independent Showmen’s Museum while at the annual tradeshow – we are just across the street!
Easy parking at the museum.
The museum has added numerous exhibits since you last visited. Come see what’s new.
The museum offers special admission price during trade show – just show us your ID Badge. IISA Members receive a discounted price so be sure to show us your membership card.
There are over 300 different exhibits to browse. If you are in the carnival industry or related amusement business, we are the place to come to do your shopping.
For Info about the Tradeshow call: 813 677-9377
The tradeshow is held at our club house located at 6915 Riverview Drive in scenic Gibsonton, FL.
Museum past Events
Vivienne Marie volunteered both her time and talent to repair some of the banners on display at the International Independent Showmen’s Museum. We are eternally grateful to her. She works for the Lyric Opera in Chicago, and is a union painter for TV and films as well. She drove to Riverview from Chicago and even provided the canvas and archival glue for the repairs. She is such a treasure to the International Independent Showmen’s Museum in helping us to preserve the remembrances of sideshow history as well as preserving the rich and colorful history for future generations to see. That is what we are all about. Thank you Vivienne Marie!
Museum Past Events
Bike fest is always a fun event. Be sure to join in the fun next year. As you can see, the museum was open for Bike Fest.
Museum Past Events
The International Independent Showmen’s Museum hosted the taping of Freakshow – AMC which is a weekly AMC Series. The Venice Beach Freakshow cast joined forces with World of Wonders owners Ward Hall and Chris Crist for this one of a kind spectacular event.
The museum had the honor of holding the entire event for The Venice Beach Freakshow including the World of Wonders Tent with a live show.
The Tampa Bay Times wrote, “If you’re into bearded ladies, sword swallowers and seeing a guy hammer a nail up his nose, you may want to get to Riverview on Saturday, where the AMC reality series “Freakshow” will be hosting a free performance with those and other “human oddities.”
The series, which chronicles the daily operations of a freak show business in Venice Beach, Calif., will be filming on location this week in Gibsonton, long known as an off-season home for a community of sideshow performers.
The show will feature “Freakshow” cast members George Bell, known as “the tallest man in America,” Marcus “The Creature,” known for his extensive tattoos and body modifications, and Asia Ray, touted as the world’s youngest female sword swallower, among others. They’ll be teaming up with performers from the Gibsonton-based Ward Hall’s World of Wonders, which includes fire eaters, The Electric Lady and The Human Blockhead.
There will be opportunities to meet the cast after the performance, a news release said.
American Pickers Frank and Mike visit the museum.
Step Right Up
Premiere Date:June 03, 2013 – 09:00-10:00PM ET (Reruns on the History Channel)
“In Gibsonton, Florida, Mike and Frank get VIP access to an authentic retro sideshow World of Wonders owners Ward Hall and Chris Crist where they meet the Wolf Boy and a world champion sword swallower. Later, the guys get junk drunk at a former pawnshop owner’s jam-packed property. And, at The International Independent Showmen’s Museum, the guys get some great news about a carnie artifact from Doc Rivera, museum curator.
February George Ferris Museum Day
GEORGE FERRIS (1859-1896)
The Ferris Wheel
George Ferris conceived, designed and built an engineering marvel, which astonished the world at its debut and became a mainstay of American recreation.
George Washington Gale Ferris was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1859 and he and his family moved to Nevada when Ferris was five years old. He attended high school in Oakland, California before enrolling at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy, New York, where he graduated in 1881 with a degree in engineering. Ferris found civil engineering work in Pittsburgh, where he specialized in constructing steel frameworks for bridges and tunnels.
When the World’s Colombian Exhibition of 1893 was being planned in Chicago, the 33-year old Ferris arrived hoping to help build a structure to outdo the Eiffel Tower, the centerpiece of the Paris Exhibition of 1889. The Exhibition’s planners wanted something “original, daring and unique.” Inspired, Ferris sketched a huge, revolving “observation wheel” on some scrap paper that same night, in detail down to the ticket price. The next day, he presented his idea to the committee. They had heard of the smaller, wooden “pleasure wheels” that had begun to appear at various vacation spots about twenty-five years before; but, seeing the sheer size of Ferris’ wheel, the committee dismissed him as a crackpot. A few weeks later, Ferris returned to the committee. He had convinced several fellow engineers to endorse his structure as both buildable and safe; more importantly, he had found local investors to cover the $400,000 cost to construct. This time, Ferris’ plan was approved.
Ferris’ wheel was modeled on a bicycle wheel: as spokes to maintain the wheel’s shape and balance, it had heavy steel beams; the “forks” in which the axle was set were two steel girder pyramids. The wheel was 264 feet high, the supporting towers were 140 feet high, and the axle – the largest piece of steel ever forged in the US – weighed 46 1/2 tons. The wheel carried 36 elegantly outfitted passenger cars, each of which could fit 40 people sitting or 60 people standing. The wheel was spun by either of two 1,000 horsepower steam engines, and stopped by an oversized air brake.
Ferris’ innovative design, a model of efficiency, let the wheel withstand Chicago’s infamous winds while being able to hold about five times the 1,200 tons that it did carry fully loaded. At its opening on June 21, 1893, the Ferris Wheel became the irresistible centerpiece of the Exhibition. As one reviewer put it, “You cannot advertise the wheel, anyway, any more than you can advertise the fair, or the Atlantic ocean. They are all too big.”
Operating without a hitch throughout the Exhibition, Ferris’ wheel operated carried an estimated 1 1/2 million visitors, each paying 50 cents (equal to the Exhibition’s general admission charge) for a 20-minute ride. After the Exhibition ended, the owners of resorts like Coney Island stole Ferris’ idea. Worse yet, Ferris thought the Exhibition management had robbed him and his investors of their rightful portion of the nearly $750,000 profit that his wheel brought in.
Unfortunately, George Ferris, the author of this uniquely beautiful, and modern, amalgam of spirit, form and function, spent the next two years in litigation, then died prematurely in late 1896. However, his name lives on, in the “observation wheels” that can now be found in virtually every amusement park in the world.
Friday, February 15th, 2013 – Fair Day At The Museum
The year is 1969. Everyone is so appreciative of the efforts of so many, across the midways of America that have resulted in our brand new club building. We’re on our way, there is no limit to how far we can go from here. The photo reveals a trade show / Extravaganza is in it’s infancy. Nobody, in that year, could have possibly realized the heights we would eventually achieve with this undertaking.
This year was, admittedly, disappointing as far as the numbers went. Some companies like the Sellner Manufacturing Company, who brought us the venerable Tilt – A- Whirl and who have been instrumental in the ride building business since the 1920’s are no longer a part of the landscape anymore. To lose people like this in such a close industry as ours is almost akin to losing a member of our family. But the Showmen’s Museum, across the street, is a stalwart testament to those fallen flags of our business who, like transient empires, rose and fell with the changing fortunes of time so while we feel the loss of industry legends like this, we understand that, like other aspects of our business, these eventualities too are a part of it
Perhaps the capricious nature of a mercuric economy is one of the reasons we didn’t see as many of our old friends as we would have liked to this year. Let’s face it, these are tough financial times and times like this take their toll on business’s large and small. It cost big money to transport equipment to Gibtown in the dead of winter these days and people in our industry are like any other. They, like every other business trying to survive in America lately, need some reassurance that times are going to get better in the immediate future before they invest in that new ride or six figure food trailer. Who can blame them?
The internet, as well, has taken a slice out of our trade show, like it has so many other capital ventures. A prospective buyer can hold off on making a major purchase without tying up a big cash deposit for months while waiting for the season to begin. They can see the newest, biggest, hottest equipment in sound and motion and in real time, without ever leaving their living room.
But no amount of gigabytes can replace the warmth of a handshake from an old friend you haven’t seen in years or the jackpots shared across the table from somebody who has spent their whole, decades long life, chasing Ferris Wheels down the road. Once a year, we get to come together, rich and poor, old and young, like ships passing in the night, we collectively embrace the spirit of what makes us, as show people, individually unique yet as ubiquitous as the stars in the sky.
That was the spirit of the Extravaganza in 1969 and that is still the motivation for the Herculean efforts put forth by all of the members today who tirelessly contribute their time, talent and treasure to make it a success. And that is why, as long as it can continue to be a profitable endeavour and continue to sustain the ideals that were the driving factors in this clubs inception, which were simply to have a place to come together in a fraternal atmosphere of friendship and commonality, it will be a success. Because not all success can be measured tangibly, as numbers on a balance sheet, but we all understand that the degree of that success is certainly incumbent on the finances that make it possible. Show people are eternal optimists. Perhaps tomorrow, the next spot, the next season will be the red one that will make it all worthwhile. Perhaps the same fates that have introduced this present decline in our attendance will deal us a better hand next year and we will be refreshed with that same optimism that they all shared in 1969 when so many of us were, like our club, so much younger
February 5th – 9th, 2013
Museum Past Events
The International Independent Showmen’s Museum will be open during Trade Show hours throughout the entire event. Come pay us a visit and see the history of our colorful past being preserved and displayed for future generations to embrace and understand. We have great and exciting plans to move our museum forward and into the future in dramatic ways and all of you are invited to be part of this process. Call us for group tours.
Be sure to stop by our exhibit and register for a ‘way cool free gift’ to be given away during the show or just say “Hi” and cut up a jackpot.
January International Independent Showmen’s Museum Events
January 10th – 13th, 2013
The International Independent Showmen’s Museum Will Be Open From 1 – 5 pm Saturday and Sunday during the Gibtown Bike Week At The Club. Come By And Say “Hi” And See How Your International Independent Showmen’s Museum Is Progressing!
We are very excited to be part of an upcoming episode of American Pickers. The International Independent Showmen’s Museum will be featured in an episode to be aired in the future. We will keep you informed on the airing date and time.
UPDATE: January 11.
What a great time we had shooting an upcoming episode Of American Pickers today. Mike and Frank were such great guys and the crew of the shoot felt like family. Look for this segment sometime in April 2013. The Museum will benefit greatly by the exposure it will receive on national television and with the boundless generosity of Mike, who donated the piece he was having appraised, also offered to link our website to his website which recives almost a half million hits a week. A big THANK YOU to Mike, Frank, and all the crew.