The Snowie, a shaved-ice booth manufactured in Utah, sold for $17,000.
The Wester, a small carousel made in Argentina, sold for $130,000.
The Vortex, a tall thrill ride from Italy, sold for 350,000 euros.
The recent trade show for the International Independent Showmen's Association had something for everyone in the carnival business. Popcorn vendors and souvenir cup salesmen jostled with midway executives buying the latest food booths and trailers.
Candy Anderson, an independent contractor from Tampa, travels the country with five carnival games. She bought a 42-foot trailer customized by a company called Recreation By Design.
"That's why I came here," Anderson said. "To get exactly what I wanted."
At 3 p.m. Friday, she signed a check, lit a cigarette and said, "OK, let's get a drink."
The February trade show is part of Florida carnival history associated with Gibsonton, just west of Riverview. Midway owners, human oddities and carnival workers have wintered near Tampa Bay since the 1930s.
The Showmen's Association, the largest in the world, has a clubhouse decorated with murals of carnival scenes.
A meeting room honors Hall of Fame members with brass plaques. Walls are lined with bright carnival posters and black-and-white photographs.
The names of association members who have died are listed on a display called "We Remember."
At the 40th annual trade show, buyers and vendors gathered in the clubhouse bar each evening. It felt like a family reunion, with carnival veterans calling out to one another before buying drinks and swapping stories.
More than 30 carnival rides towered over the trade show grounds. The exhibition hall featured 200 exhibits of everything from rubber ducks to stuffed animals.
In the carnival world, for the first week of February, everyone gathers on the Gulf Coast.
"It's huge," said Ward Hall, a side show owner in Gibsonton. "One big party all day long."
Not everyone enjoyed a winter visit to Florida.
Terry Schaeffer, a Reading, Pa., entrepreneur, sold Old-Fashioned Soda Wagons that served root beer and sarsaparilla. Only there were no customers.
"Business is terrible," he said. "Haven't sold a single wagon."
Schaeffer and other trade show vendors thought attendance was off.
Miguel de Oliveira, sales manager for Felimana Luna Park of Buenos Aires, Argentina, carried a slick brochure for everything from carousels to bumper cars. With few customers, he had time to talk.
"To tell you the truth, this show, not so well," Oliveira said, shrugging and holding out his palms. "The recession ... I don't know."
Reinventing the wheel
The Fabbri Group, an Italian manufacturer, showed off The Skateboard Ride and The Vortex, which stands 90 feet tall. When asked who designed them, Sergio Chieregatti smiled and offered his card.
"The ideas come from the customer," said the technical engineer. "The designs come from me."
Fabbri is based in Calto, Italy, which is between Milan and Venice. It builds roller coasters, water slides and a variety of carnival rides.
Chieregatti's job is to create ever bigger and faster machines, but his personal favorite is the most traditional of rides.
"For me, I very much like the wheel," he said, referring to the Ferris wheel. "It's a family ride. Young people, old people. It's for everybody."
Gumbo and lo mein?
Coming soon to a carnival near you:
Temporary airbrush tattoos.
A paintless paintball game.
The Coconut Climb, a climbing wall shaped like a pair of coconut trees.
Fair food is changing, too. There will always be traditional fare -- popcorn, cotton candy and hot dogs -- but the latest attractions are more adventurous.
An Asian food booth at the trade show served up egg rolls, shrimp fried rice and vegetable lo mein. A New Orleans-themed trailer offered gumbo, sausage po-boys and Cajun stuffed bread.
Ken Sharkey, owner of Vertical Reality in Miami, enjoyed the Riverview trade show. He sold three $49,000 versions of Spider Mountain, which combines a climbing wall with an inflatable slide and a bungee trampoline.
"It's our third year doing it," Sharkey said. "This year we finally perfected everything. It's a natural progress of the product."
On Friday afternoon, Gibsonton schoolchildren swarmed over Spider Mountain. Sharkey joked about playing baby sitter, but he knew free advertising when he saw it.
He does not mind haggling with tight-fisted carnival managers. Unlike other clients, they understand the nuts and bolts and dollars and cents of traveling entertainment.
"I don't need to set up everything for them," Sharkey said. "These people know what the hell's going on. Very knowledgeable, very experienced."