Past Events

Museum Past Events

March Events 

Alt=Showmen's Riverfest
 Join us for the 1st annual Showmen’s Riverfest taking place Thursday, March 22nd thru Sunday, March 25th where families can enjoy rides, food, games, and fun time together in a family environment.
 
Thursday, March 22, 2018, Open from 5pm to Close
Friday, March 23, 2018, Open from 5pm to Close
Saturday, March 24, 2018, Open from 12pm to Close
Sunday, March 25, 2018, Open from 12 pm to Close
Where: 6915 Riverview Drive, Riverview, FL 33578 (Across the street from the museum)
Enjoy four days of family fun at the 1st Annual Showmen’s Riverfest.
  • There will be Thrill Rides, Family Favorites, and Kiddie Rides for the little ones.
  •  Food Concessions offering favorites like cotton candy, corn dogs, hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, and funnel cakes 
  •  Games for everyone 
 Ride armbands are purchased at the gate and are good for unlimited rides that day. The cost for an armband is $20.00. Discount coupon available from local merchants, Tampa Bay Times, TBT, and Osprey Observer.
 Free Parking and Free Admission 
 
 Midway provided through Arnold Amusements Inc
 The Showmen’s Riverfest is a fundraiser with proceeds benefiting the International Independent Showmen’s Museum’s, a 501 c3 Nonprofit.  The Showmen’s Museum strives to preserve the rich and colorful history of traveling shows in America.
Drop by the museum after visiting the midway where we have a 1903 Ferris Wheel, Thrill Show Exhibit, Viking Giant, Sideshow Exhibit, Antique Games, just to name a few.
Half off admission to the museum with your Riverfest Armband through April 1st 2018!

 

February Events

alt="Showmen's Museum Trade Show"

2018 Trade Show:  February 6-9

Our annual Super Extravaganza ad Trade Show plays host annually to the largest array of products pertaining to the amusement industry from around the world. Some of the exhibits you can expect to see include rides, food supplies and equipment, concession trailers, electrical supplies, insurance companies, novelty items, plush toys, jewelry and much more. 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.

The trade show is held at our clubhouse located at 6915 Riverview Drive in scenic Gibsonton, FL

February 3rd, 2018

Drag Queen Bingo
International Independent Showmen’s Foundation
6915 Riverview Dr, Riverview, FL 33578
Doors Open at 5 pm

January 7th, 2018

Drag Queen Bingo
International Independent Showmen’s Foundation
6915 Riverview Dr, Riverview, FL 33578
Doors Open at 5 pm

January 6th, 2018 Annual Circus

Join us at the circus: 

International Independent Showmen’s Club
6915 Riverview Dr, Riverview, FL 33578

March 2016

CBS Morning Show visits the museum –Showmen's Museum Events

February 2016

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 tradeshow – 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 clubhouse located at 6915 Riverview Drive in scenic Gibsonton, FL.

Banner Restoration

 

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!

 

Bike Week

 

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.

November 2013

 

November 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.

Click Here For full Story

Visit Venice Beach Freakshow’s website 

 

American Pickers Frank and Mike visit the museum.

Mike Wolfe, Doc Rivera and Lee Stevens discussing the details of the shoot
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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 its 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 to0 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 businesses 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 endeavor 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 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.

You will have to see what Frank FritzMike WolfeDanielle Colby-Cushman from American Pickers have in store for us and the International Independent Showmen’s Museum!

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.

Mike Wolfe from the American Pickers Series, Lee Stevens and Doc Rivera check out the shoot
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