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Longtime carnival provider shuts down

A change in the business climate has forced a longtime Pahrump business to cease operations.

Mike Davis, owner and operator of Davis Amusement Cascadia Inc., said his company will no longer provide the popular carnival for local events, including the Pahrump Fall Festival and the recent Balloon Festival.

“Every year, just like any other business, we sit down and go through all of our books and audit what we are doing to make sure that we are still being profitable,” Davis said. “It’s been getting tighter and tighter over the last couple of years. Our business is what’s considered high volume and low returns, so we have a very narrow profit margin, and a lot of expenses. We have completely closed. There are other businesses in the valley that do the kind of things that we do, even though they are unrelated to us, they are in the same industry.”

As the company officially shut down as of Jan. 1, Davis said it didn’t take long to liquidate all of the rides and other equipment.

“We found an investor who purchased all of the rides in one lot,” Davis said. “He is a broker for amusement rides, and he will probably resell those, so they have all been purchased. All the equipment was company-owned, and we would upgrade and replace them from time to time. We would paint them and rebuild them and all of that good stuff. There is always some value in the machinery, so they were an easy sale.”

Aside from Pahrump, Davis said his company routinely navigated to various locations across the country.

“We were a company that traveled from Arizona to the Canadian border,” he said. “Up in the Northwest, we have seen that profit margin dissolve, which unfortunately has affected our business overall, which would include our business in the Southwest. Really, it’s the change of the business climate in the Northwest, specifically, Oregon and Washington, with the $15 an hour minimum wage movement and government regulations, it’s really become too restrictive to continue to operate. We did approximately 40 shows a year across six states.”

Additionally, Davis said his family started the business many decades ago.

“We began back in 1939, so 2019 was our 80th consecutive year on the road as a traveling show,” he said. “It has been about five generations of family, so it has been around for a while. It originated in Portland, Oregon and we were there for probably 65 years up in the Northwest. It was only within the last fifteen years that we moved down to the Southwest and started to pick up contracts here in the valley.”

Regarding the future for he and his family, Davis said he’s still pondering what he would like to pursue.

“My wife and I will move on and probably make a lateral move within the industry,” he said. “We may work management for another show and we are looking at different investment opportunities. I am in my 40’s and I never had to look for a job, so it never occurred to me that I would have to go find something else to do. We were always traveling about nine months each year between February and basically November, so we’ve had a lot of experiences. We will miss doing the business 100 percent.”

After doing business in Pahrump over the years, Davis noted that he’s not quite sure he and his family will remain in Pahrump.

“I haven’t really decided yet,” he said. “The main thing that I would like to say to the town of Pahrump is that we appreciate all of the years that we have been able to work here and and raised our kids here. It’s where we plan on staying indefinitely, because it’s our home and we love this town and we love the people in this town. Both of my kids went to school all through elementary and high school. They played on the track and football teams as well as volleyball. Our whole family just loves this town because it’s home.”

Regarding what the town will do to provide a carnival for future local events, Davis said that’s not up to him to decide.

“That is really the Pahrump Chamber of Commerce’s department, because they are the ones who put on the events, but it’s my understanding that they have been in touch with multiple different providers that do what we do,” he said.

Following February’s balloon festival, Pahrump Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jenney Sartin spoke about carnival provider Paradise Amusements, who provided the carnival this year.

“The carnival provided by Paradise Amusements was great,” she said. “As far as them providing the carnival for both the balloon festival and the fall festival, we had a positive experience with them, and everything was operated safely. We have provided them with a Letter of Intent, and provided that we are able to reach a mutually-satisfactory agreement, and barring the outcome with the Memorandum of Understanding with the county, we are certainly open to moving forward with them.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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