Our History

What’s it like to work for Shooting Star Amusements?

By Betty Minifie, Games Manager, Shooting Star Amusements’ Longest Employee.

Wow 19 years and counting! Where to begin…

When I first started to work with Joe and Brenda it was only for a couple of random events. Read More »

Our Carnival Company has a long History in BC, and things always come full circle it seems. We started in the Carnival business in the mid 1970’s when Playland (PNE) was owned by a Company called Burrard Amusements. We later traveled with West Coast Amusements and started an Amusement Game Company called JBM Enterprises.

Several years later we joined Castle Amusements with our Game Company and later purchased five Amusement Rides. When the Watson’s wanted to retire we had the opportunity to buy their Carnival Company entirely – Now this was scary…and a real leap of faith.

While we were working at the PNE with our Amusement Games we had the great pleasure to meet Howard Hoss of S & H Concessions. I became very fond of Howard, he was a true Showman. We would meet for Tea each night during the PNE, and talk about the Business, share laughs and jokes.

One day while walking down the Midway at the PNE, I told Howard we had the opportunity to buy a Carnival – the whole Carnival! I told him we were pretty scared to take such a huge step, we would have to leave our full time jobs and take the risk. Howard said to me, “Brenda, opportunities like this only come along once in a lifetime, you should take it”. We have never looked back since! Thanks Howard!
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Rob's Character Board shows Betty and Krysta 's Character

Rob’s Character Board shows Betty and Krysta ‘s Character.

The Carnival Industry has many similarities – we travel, we entertain, we work very hard, and we are all in Show Business. I like to think that all of us want the same thing, success, fulfillment, a sense of belonging, the opportunity to deliver and provide joy and make a living for our families.

The people who work with us at our Carnival Company are quite different than you might expect. At Shooting Star Amusements, we hire people with inherent great skills and then further cultivate their hidden talents.

On our Carnival Midway you will find entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers, first aid attendants, bankers, gymnasts, magicians, face-painters, artists, sales people, photographers, chefs, professional drivers, University, College and High School students, professional trade people, electricians and retirees who enjoy the interaction with the public.
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SSA-10-Year-Anniversary-Logo-150x150“So…What’s New?”

As a Carnival Company we are always asked “What’s New?” Each year we add something new to our Carnival Midway, but it’s not always something to ride. It does take a long time to build a Carnival from scratch. If you were to Google how much it costs to buy a new ride, I am sure you would be shocked to see just how much they cost.

In our Ten year history we have done some growing up and had our fair share of the ups and downs of any thrilling roller coaster ride! When asked, “What’s New?” We can answer well, a new amusement ride, or a new amusement game or some new and interesting fair food.
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2010-Quesnel-Parade-4-300x225Rolling into Quesnel with our Carnival Rides and Games has always been such a wonderful reward after a long journey from Langley. When we arrive in Quesnel we are welcomed with open arms by the great hard working Volunteer Festival Directors. It’s like coming home to see the family after a year away!

In small Northern Towns and Cities we really experience fully, the excitement of the families and kids who have waited all year for this moment to arrive! “Yay!! The Carnival Rides Mom! Look here comes the Rides!” Billy Barker Days is about to begin!

Parking Overnight at the Tourist Information Center in front of the Billy Barker Days Office, we rest up for set up because we have lots of things to do! The fun is about to begin.
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Hyack-Arenex-300x225Shooting Star Amusements has participated in the Hyack Festival for the last ten years and our family and employees were participants for 15 additional years before that while we partnered with Castle Amusements. We had been looking forward to celebrating with the people of New Westminster again in this, the 10th Season of our Carnival Company.

The field in Queen’s Park which was traditionally used for the Hyack Festival Family Days Celebration was revamped last year and artificial turf was installed which made the location no longer viable for use as festival fair grounds for Amusement Rides.
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Leigh-Square-Train-300x176Many years ago a small number of our Carnival Rides were set up at Leigh Square in Port Coquitlam. In those years there was only room for five carnival rides tucked into the square and down the back alleys of Leigh Square in Port Coquitlam, BC. After the parade was over, we saw many families come and enjoy our whimsical kiddie rides.

Just down the road at the arena West Coast Amusements had their Carnival rides set up for the PoCo May Days Celebration weekend. This was quite a unique situation in the Amusement Industry. It’s very rare for two Amusement Companies to work in two locations just a block away from each other — rare but certainly not impossible.
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We opened our Carnival yesterday at the Dasmesh Darbar Gurdwara in Surrey, BC for the start of Season 10 with sunshine and excited, smiling faces!

Ribbon-Cutting-Bumper-Cars-300x225This was no ordinary day on the Shooting Star Midway. It has become a tradition at our Carnival for our staff to be the first riders on our new rides. This tradition was born at the Hyack Festival on our first day, of our first season of Shooting Star Amusements in 2002.

A few years ago, in a very serious conversation with my six year old niece, she informed me, “If you do something more than twice Auntie, its tradition”. From the wisdom of a child a tradition is born!

In the past we have held barbeques and festive ribbon cutting ceremonies all around the arrival and installation of a brand new carnival ride on our midway. We invite our families and friends and always our crew (our Travel Family).
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Blog-Photo-Follow-the-Bumper-CarsThere is really nothing like the start of a new season in the Carnival business. Somehow the start of this season is even sweeter since we have been looking back at our History – oh my! What a spectacular ride!

As we all started our engines, and headed out to our first event in Surrey BC, you could really feel everyone’s excitement rising! The adrenaline is flowing, the season is upon us. This is something to celebrate! It’s that peculiar yet familiar thing that happens to all of us in the Carnival business.

Whether you work with West Coast Amusements or Shooting Star Amusements, or any other Carnival Company – I think it’s what keeps us all coming back to our Carnival careers!
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1985-Our-first-JointAfter 18 years dabbling in the Carnival Business with the PNE and our days with West Coast Amusements, in 2001 my husband Joe and I took a huge leap of faith. We stepped right up and purchased five Amusement Rides to accompany our existing Carnival Games Company (then called JBM Enterprises). It was this decision that changed our lives forever!

Just one year later, we held our first contest to name our company (which was won by my late Brother). With the new name in hand we had a logo designed and Shooting Star Amusements was born.

The five carnival rides we purchased a decade ago were the Ferris Wheel, The Lightening Bolt, the Titanic Slide, the Go Gator Roller Coaster and the Moonwalk.

This was the biggest and scariest investment of our lives. Using our Home as collateral for a loan, we took the chance – we believed.
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