SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Gene Dean, owner of Fiesta Shows/Dean Enterprises, Seabrook, N.H., will be inducted into the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (NEAAPA) Hall of Fame on Tuesday, March 19.
The ceremony will take place during NEAAPA’s 106th Anniversary Education Conference & Annual Meeting at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel here.
“It’s a nice honor after all of these years in the amusement business,” Gene said of the accolade.
With more than a half-century in the industry, Gene got his start at Salisbury Beach, Mass., where the family once operated 38 games and a few rides at the seaside resort community.
“Dad (late Gene Sr.) got his start there in 1935,” he recalled. In the 1967, Gene’s father branched out into the carnival industry with the purchase of Fiesta shows with business partner, the late Jack Flynn.
“I joined the carnival operation in 1970,” Gene said of that venture.
Today the show, touted as New England’s largest carnival, carries more than 70 rides and plays a regional route spanning 35 weeks.
“I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and go to work,” he said of the industry he came to admire as a youngster.
Yet, he readily admits “the amusement park was my first love” of his career.
“One thing in the park business is that it took them three to four days to set up a Tilt (Tilt-A-Whirl ride), whereas on the carnival it takes only four hours,” he said in comparing the two businesses.
While he still enjoys visiting the midway operation and carrying on the show’s tradition with son, E.J., Gene is also known for his charitable work in local communities as well as daily tennis games while wintering in Florida.
E.J. and his wife, Norma, also operate the famous Cream Puff Bakery at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass.
Gene and his wife of 52 years, Mary, enjoy spending time with their family, including grandchildren now being groomed in the family’s enterprises.