Flying Cortes, a famous Columbian family of flying trapeze artists performing during one of their shows.  Rockwell Amusements

Carnival provider Rockwell Amusements has decided to stay an extra week at the Topsham Fairgrounds after COVID-19 forced it to change plans yet again.

A four-day Topsham Family Fun Festival will kick off Thursday, featuring carnival rides, shows, attractions and games. These are many of the same offerings featured at the Topsham Fair, which ended last weekend.

The entry to the festival is $15, which includes admission, carnival rides and shows. The fair will run from 3-10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 1-10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“The Rockwell amusements team was supposed to head to a fair in Rhode Island after wrapping up at Topsham, but unfortunately, that fair got canceled, so the owner decided to stay back and extend the fair here at the fairgrounds,” said Gordon Mackay, the marketing coordinator of Rockwell Amusements.

The company incurred a huge financial loss last year due to the pandemic, according to Mackay, and the owner Harold Fera wanted to try to make up for some of those losses.

“Many events were canceled or downsized drastically due to COVID last year, due to which employees either lost their jobs or went without pay for months. However, the owner did not want his employees to suffer again due to the sudden cancellation of the fair and decided to stay one extra week in Topsham,” Mackay said.

Earlier this year, a study released by The Global Association for the Attractions Industry stated that employment in the attractions industry was among the most affected in the country during the pandemic — with an employment loss five times larger than the average loss across all other industries.

The employees from the International Association of Amusement Parks constituent industries — amusement and theme parks, arcades, historical sites, museums, zoos and aquariums and similar institutions — saw their wages fall by nearly $1.1 billion, compared to the second quarter of 2020 to the same period in 2019.

According to the study, amusement and theme park employees were among the hardest hit, accounting for 70% of this drop in wages.

Rockwell Amusements has been providing carnival rides at the Topsham fair for the past 30 years.

To attract a larger crowd to the extended festival, the company contracted with Flying Cortes, a famous Columbian family of flying trapeze artists, including members of the prominent Wallenda family. The troupe performed in most of the United States significant circuses, including Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey.

The Cortes family has passed down the art form through generations, and the current artists are the eighth and ninth-generation circus performers. They participated in a prestigious International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo.

Other attractions at the fair include a fireworks show, which will be held Saturday, and a mini-tractor pull event will be held on Sunday.

 

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