Reithoffer Shows will provide New Mexico State Fair's midway, which last year had 42 rides from Murphy Bros. Exposition.

After an extensive RFP process, New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque has signed a four-year contract with the option of a four-year renewal with Reithoffer Shows to provide midway operations—including rides, games and concessions—starting with this year’s fair Sept. 10-20.

Rick Reithoffer, owner of the 118-year-old Reithoffer Shows, said the fair released the request for proposals on Jan.30, and they took a month to put theirs together and turn it in before the March 3 deadline.

“They wanted to know everything about Reithoffer Shows,” said Reithoffer, “our experience, our equipment, our organization, anything that you can think of that this company does and is and what it’s all about and a lot of our history.”

An independent committee was formed to review the RFPs and evaluate them using a point system. The committee also contacted a few of the 40 county and state fairs Reithoffer Shows currently plays to get references.

“Through our process our committee did an extensive analysis of all the proposals and when it was presented to me it was Reithoffer’s attention to not only the details, but a true willingness to be a partner to the New Mexico Sate Fair, not just a contractor, that set them apart,” said Dan Mourning, New Mexico State Fair general manager. “When I say partners, you share not only the profits, but you share the responsibility of putting a great show together for the people of New Mexico. And that’s, I think, what really stood out for Reithoffer.”

Reithoffer Shows will also be bringing its recently debuted cashless ticketing system to New Mexico State Fair. The American Charger-produced system uses smart cards and radio frequency identification technology that allows for easy, real-time tracking. Ride attendants will have readers to scan the cards and remove the appropriate credits. Kiosks will be established around the midway where fairgoers are able to purchase the smart cards and credits. But the tracking feature will require no additional technology or equipment be installed for the fair.

“Any advancement in not handling cash is something we’re definitely interested in,” said Mourning. “It hopefully eliminates a lot of the guesswork and it’s a lot less work on everybody as far as the accounting and the accountability of all the ticketing. Basically, we will be handed an iPad, if you will, and my accounting department will be able to monitor anything that the midway operator monitors. So we’ll have live, up-to-date readings going on throughout the day and it will be all on our own system.”

Murphy Bros. Exposition has provided the midway for the fair for a number of years, but their contract was up after the 2014 fair. Last year’s fair drew 460,000 in attendance with a midway of 42 rides that grossed $1.73 million, 33 percent of which the fair retained. This year. Reithoffer Shows plans to bring 50 rides and attractions with eight to nine of them being “super spectacular type rides” that Mourning said are the types of rides that haven’t been out to the New Mexico State Fair before.

“They’re going to see new amusement rides they’ve never seen before, because I have rides that my dad and I and now my sons have brought over from Europe that no one else in America has,” said Reithoffer. “We’re able to do that because we have long-standing relationships with manufacturers from Europe because we’ve been buying those rides from those companies for over 100 years. Part of our RFP entailed a lot of these exclusive rides.”

Mostly active with East Coast fairs, Reithoffer said they have already begun thinking through the routing of the carnival 2,000 miles west to Albuquerque.

“Sometimes you’ve got to mix up the show a little bit, and these guys are definitely coming to mix the show up,” said Mourning. “We’re very excited about it, and I think the people of New Mexico are going to be pleasantly surprised when they see how this is going to turn out.”

Interviewed for this story: Rick Reithoffer, (813) 422-0074; Dan Mourning, (502) 222-9700