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October 9, 2020

Convention Season Dates Now Available

2021 NICA Business Expo & Fare Foods Food Show: Movin' Forward! (February 15-17, 2021)

NICA and Fare Foods are MOVIN' FORWARD in 2021. The NICA Business Expo will feature NICA's Annual Membership Meeting and provide Workshops and Discussion Groups which cover the issues and daily challenges our industry is faced with today. The Fare Foods Food Show will feature exhibitors showcasing the latest food trends and technology that will define the 2021 Fair Season.​ This year's dates are February 15-17, 2021, and don't forget, this event is FREE! See upcoming NICA Now! emails, NICA News issues, and social media posts for updates.

2020 IAFE Convention: Virtual Vision (November 30 - December 1, 2020)

The IAFE will hold an online educational event called Virtual Vision to provide important educational and networking opportunities for its members. Virtual Vision will be held November 30 - December 1, 2020. Stay tuned for more details at

2021 WFA Convention: Virtual (January 4-6, 2021)

This year’s 2021 Western Fairs Association Convention & Trade Show is going VIRTUAL, coming to a screen near you January 4-6, 2021! Log-on for the buying and selling opportunities to grow your business, for the education and training to stay on the cutting-edge of the industry. Visit for more information.

October 2, 2020

The IAFE/NICA Three-Part Collaborative Series is Now Available

It is time to place focus on intentionally communicating with our local and State Health Departments, other Government Agencies, and Politicians. In a collaboration with IAFE we are encouraging our Members to reach out NOW if we are going to successfully and safely open in 2021. On behalf of NICA, on IAFE’s platforms, please view and share the following collaborations regarding the importance of building relationships and communicating often with all stakeholders.

Making Plans to Open Together, by Rey O’Day

(Fairs & Expos Magazine: September/October 2020)

NICA and IAFE share the belief that we are ready for our fairs and events to make plans to open and our contracted vendors to return to work. How do we do that? Building on the article that Rey wrote in NICA News, we are making plans to open together. Let's reach out collaboratively and start communicating with these important agencies now. Click or tap the links below to view the article online or download the article. 

View Article Online

Download Article

Important Topics for Today’s Priority Conversations With Your Health Department, presented by Rey O’Day 

(IAFE Webinar: September 23, 2020)

Communication with your local health department is critical in any year, but as the COVID-19 pandemic and crisis has proved to the Fair Industry, it is vital! Communication involves asking questions and listening to the answers, to reach an understanding, initiate progress, build relationships and open our events. Click or tap the button below to register and view the webinar. 

View Webinar

A 5, 6, 7, 8: With the Health Department You Cannot Wait, hosted by Marla Calico with special guest Rey O’Day

(Marla by the Numbers Podcast: October 2, 2020)

Listen with us as Marla Calico, President and CEO of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) discusses important factors for working with your local health department with special guest, Rey O'Day of the National Independent Concessionaires Association (NICA). Click or tap the button below to listen to the Podcast. The Marla by the Numbers podcast is also available directly on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

Listen to Podcast

September 4, 2020

NICA Office Closed on Labor Day

The NICA Office will be closed on Monday, September 7th in observance of Labor Day.

If you need to reach us on Monday, you can leave a message via phone at (813) 438-8926 or reply to this email and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Have a safe, fun, and prosperous Labor Day!

August 10, 2020

2020 NICA Foundation Scholarship Recipients Have Been Selected

The NICA Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of the 2020 NICA Scholarship recipients. This is an exciting time of year for the NICA Foundation. With the financial challenges that many of our students and their families are facing right now, we are honored to award life-changing funds to so many deserving students. Because of the overwhelming support from our donors in 2020, we were able to not only meet our goal of awarding $30,500, but exceed our goal and award $33,500 to our commendable recipients.

After a confidential and anonymous review of the over 30 applications received, the NICA Foundation is proud to award 18 scholarships.

Congratulations to our Recipients:

The 25th Anniversary Scholarship – Samuel Beach
Coca-Cola Refreshments Scholarship – Grace Owens
NICA Regional Councils Scholarship – Carmela Palmieri
NICA Leadership Scholarship – Emily Chambers
Norman Jean & Edgar Sivori Scholarship – Ashton Giordano
Visionary Scholarship – Colin Glushakow, Macey Kenna, Callie Pfile, and Delaney Woods
Membership Scholarship – Savannah Grout, Elizabeth Henry, Shelby Mogge, Abigail O’Brien, Olivia Owens, Sarah Riley, and Kaitlyn Zell
Gene O’Brien Vocational Scholarship – Don Jones and Tyler Mitchell

“We are confident that our scholarship recipients and applicants will do great things with their education in our industry and/or on their own individual path,” NICA Foundation President Audrey Poole said. “We are so honored to award $33,500 to such deserving students. To fulfill our commitment during this time of COVID will help these students achieve their dreams.”

This Scholarship Program would not be possible without the generous donations of so many of our supporters. Thank you to the 2020 Scholarship Program Sponsors: Coca-Cola Refreshments; Tina Hollis, FiServ; Cameron Murray, Chester’s Gator’s and Tators; Rey O’Day, Wings of Fame Productions; Carmel Dyer-Pittroff, CCE, The Original Australian Battered Potatoes; Fred Pitroff, Giant Slide, Inc.; Laura and Ron Porter, Fare Foods; Kathleen Ross, CCE, Ross Concessions; Jeff Ross, CCE, Ross Concessions; Lawrence Sivori, Sivori Catering; Ronald Smith, R.E. Smith; Whirley-Drinkworks! The additional fundraising efforts of the NICA Super Bowl Pool Participants, the NICA Past Presidents and Board of Directors, the NICA Regional Councils and the NICA Membership help to ensure this program truly makes a difference in the lives of our young people.

To learn more and help support The NICA Foundation Scholarship Program, please visit

Applications for the 2021 Scholarship Program will be available in early Spring 2021.

August 7, 2020

The Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20) and Congressman Billy Long (R-MO-07) have introduced H.R 7883, the Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act, in the U.S House of Representatives to help preserve agricultural fairs across the country and offset the devastating financial losses they have experienced due to COVID-19. The Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act will provide grant funding for agricultural fairs through state departments of agriculture to keep them functioning and preserve them for the future.

The legislation provides $500 million in Agricultural Fair Rescue Grants to agricultural fairs, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The AMS will provide the grant funding to states or state departments of agriculture based on the loss of attendance those fairs have experienced in 2020.

“County and local fairs are very important to agriculture and our communities all across our country. Fairs provide our producers with the opportunity to market their crops and livestock, and foster the next generation of farmers. They also are an economic engine and a gathering place for us to highlight and celebrate our communities. Like many institutions, fairs have been impacted by COVID-19, and we must provide them assistance if we are going to preserve these fairs for the future,” said Congressman Panetta.

“It is rare indeed if a person doesn’t have fond childhood memories of their county and state fairs. Fairs play a vital role in U.S. agribusiness by supporting thousands of jobs and giving farmers a way to promote their products. Our fairs have suffered very substantial, if not devastating, losses due to COVID-19. I am proud to work with my colleague and buddy, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, to introduce legislation that offers critical and strategic relief to a vulnerable industry in dire need or our assistance," said Congressman Long.

“The agricultural fairs across the United States serve vital community purposes. Besides the social and cultural impact, fairs provide the future leaders of this country – the 4-H and FFA members – with vital leadership skills development. Additionally, the economic impact to each community is significant. In the majority of communities the fairgrounds serves as critical infrastructure in times of need – fire camps, hurricane and tornado shelters for humans and animals – and never more evidence than now with many serving as COVID-19 testing sites, temporary hospitals, quarantine shelter, food distribution sites, and temporary polling places. We thank Congressmen Panetta and Long for introduced the Agricultural Fairs Research Act and for working to preserve our America’s fairs,” said Marla Calico, President & CEO, International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE).

National Independent Concessionaires Association (NICA) is the professional member organization for food and beverage, retail sales, equipment and distribution independent businesses that have been very adversely impacted by the fairs and events industry-wide closures and cancellations caused by COVID-19 concerns.

“Fairs and fairgrounds are the stage on which we remember the past, the present, and envision the future. They are economic and social engines in our communities, they provide confidence building and scholarships for our young people, they remain safe havens and shelter when disasters strike, and they offer work opportunities for hundreds of thousands of small businesses and employees. They and their activities are essential to the nation’s recovery,” said Rey O’Day, Executive Director of NICA. “NICA is grateful for the CARES Act, SBA programs and other financial infusions. Now please support providing fairs and fairgrounds indispensable financial resources so they may reopen #FairStrong and our members can go back to work. TOGETHER WE CAN do that!”

According to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), each year the operation of agricultural fairs results in $4.67 billion for the U.S. economy and supports thousands of jobs. About 2,000 fairs are held in North America each year, and large fairs can admit more than a million visitors over the course of a week or two.

Fairs, like so many other industries in the U.S., have suffered tremendous financial losses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. IAFE estimates a loss of gross revenue exceeding $3.7 billion to fair organizations so far this year based upon the cancellation of facility events and their annual fair.

State and county fairs are a primary source for the promotion of U.S. agribusiness. They exhibit the equipment and animals associated with agriculture and animal husbandry, and livestock shows are prominent at many state fairs.

Fairs also encourage and develop the next generation of America’s food producers. Agricultural producers in rural America represent less than 1% of the U.S. population, and with the average of a farmer being 57 years old, it is imperative to engage and encourage young people to pursue agricultural careers.

View Our H.R. 7883 Call to Action Email

July 14, 2020

From the Desk of Don Delahoyde, CCE, NICA President

Dear Members:

We have been busy at NICA figuring out how to operate in the conditions we are all faced with as well as creating benefits and features our members might use now and when we return to work. This has included providing information regarding applying for SBA loans, scaling back fleet insurance, introducing the NICA Association Health Plan, updating COVID-19 data, sharing business tips for navigating uncertain times, meeting with Fair managers to discuss reopening Fairs, and summarizing Health Department guidelines in order to know what it might take to prepare to open Concession stands.

We were excited about the NICA Fair Food Finder website that we recently put up to assist our Fair Fans in finding their favorite and very missed Fair Foods. Some of you called and voiced your concern about some of the sponsorship that volunteered to help with this project. We messed up with not vetting that more closely and have now fixed that. Thanks for reminding us to be more cautious.

Another one of the sponsors, Carnival Eats, has contacted us with their interest in the one-off locations or Fair Food pop-ups in which our members are participating. They have requested that we help collect photos and descriptions of the dishes our members are serving that they would like to have featured. A strong group of submissions may possibly lead to them producing a NICA themed Carnival Eats Food Fights.

As a reminder, in October 2018 the Board stated, “It is NICA’s belief that Fairs and Vendors should accept ALL forms of payment from the customer. NICA does not endorse any point of sale devices. Fairgoer experiences vary from Fair to Fair as well as from Coast to Coast. Limiting payment options to the Fairgoer will not encourage length-of-stay nor elevate the customer experience. Therefore, NICA is resolved and unwavering in this stance.”

We learn from each other by communicating with each other. Let’s continue to do that together.

Don Delahoyde, CCE
NICA President

June 9, 2020

"Friends of NICA" Disclaimer

The “Friends of NICA” Facebook group is not affiliated with the NATIONAL INDEPENDENT CONCESSIONAIRES ASSOCIATION, INC., NICA, or the NICA FOUNDATION INC. The “Friends of NICA” Facebook group is not authorized by the NATIONAL INDEPENDENT CONCESSIONAIRES ASSOCIATION, INC. or the NICA FOUNDATION INC., to use the acronym NICA.

May 21, 2020

The NICA Office is closed on Memorial Day

The NICA Office will be closed on Monday, May 25th in observance of Memorial Day. We will be open during normal business hours again on Tuesday, May 26th. If you need to reach us between Friday and Tuesday, you can leave a message via phone at (813) 438-8926 or email at and we will contact you on Tuesday.

May 1, 2020

From the Desk of Don Delahoyde, CCE, NICA President

Today is May 1st! Happy Mayday to all our great NICA family. In my note today I do not want to dwell on the negative, I want to focus on solutions. I am going to layout in this letter some ideas, some options, some foresight on what we in the Fair and Special Event business might look like in the future. It is nothing like we have been used to, but might be what we need to do to get to work. Understand that these are ideas and thoughts only!

Some people will want to be back to the Fairs as soon as we open, and others won’t go near the Fair; there will be a range of people in between. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Reduce or limit daily capacities of guests.
  2. Sell a day ticket, an evening ticket, maybe a late-night ticket on weekends, and limit the number of hours to five or six, selling the tickets two or three times in the same day could help keep revenues up as well as total attendance, while being able to manage social distancing. There could be a graveyard crew for deep cleaning at night, to stay on top of conditions. Question, how much would a guest be willing to pay for a limited ticket?
  3. Priority Post Coronavirus era would be to reduce lines, crowds and touchpoints.
  4. Signs would be erected to mark off six feet social distancing for attractions, rides food and restrooms.
  5. Individuals, couples, families and small groups would be encouraged to move through the Fair with a cushion of space around them.
  6. Temperature checks would be performed at entrance checkpoints at the same time as metal detectors and bag checks.
  7. Proof of a Coronavirus check or test could become necessary to enter the Fair.
  8. Guests and staff could be required to wear masks and gloves.
  9. Parking lot shuttles may have to leave empty seats.
  10. Ticket booths could remain closed or severely reduced, all visits and tickets may need to be purchased online and scheduled in advance.
  11. Separated entrance and exit, with guests spaced apart, could become the norm.
  12. Tape marking six feet intervals for social distancing would be everywhere.
  13. Traffic on streets might have to have a center line and markings with all traffic moving the same direction and no intermingling.
  14. Fair staff would have to manage traffic at all intersections. Regardless of the traffic model, the goal would remain the same: avoid mixing parties while managing social distancing.
  15. Ride operators would have to prepare for fewer riders and longer lines, touch points would need cleaning after each cycle as well as lap bars and seatbelts.

A Fair App might become essential, and you might need a virtual line for rides, shows, or even food, with a notice on your phone when your time for the attraction is near. Guests could select attractions, rides, etc. when they purchase their tickets online; each guest might be limited on how many attractions are allowed with each ticket. Physical ride lines would be much longer, holding less people while maintaining social distancing; all rides are not created equal some might require sitting in every other row or even shuttering.

Shows that draw large crowds could be eliminated until social distancing rules are relaxed. Parades, fireworks would take a different form. Unscheduled entertainment might become the norm, and bands or singers might be on a vehicle that travels through the streets. Theater based shows would most likely need to restrict seating to every other row with three to four seats in between groups or families. Clowns and wandering acts would likely be put on hold.

Food stands would have to follow the guidelines laid out by local authorities; there would be less tables spaced further apart. Food might be ordered on an app to be picked up at a certain time.

Shopping could be limited to a certain number of guests in buildings or shopping areas at a time.

The potential Health and safety precautions laid out here would certainly change the Fair experience. Deciding if you wanted to visit the Fair after the Coronavirus outbreak would be different for each person.

I write this not to scare anyone or say this is what will happen but I believe all or part of this will be necessary for us to return to work on a regular basis.

Disclaimer: each of the remedies discussed in this letter are currently being discussed by Disney as the way they might open their parks.

Try for a good weekend and let’s hope "Together We Can!"

Updated April 10, 2020

Updates from Our Partners & Resources Regarding COVID-19

Greetings NICA Members, here is a list of Updates from some of our Industry Partners and resources to assist with your business regarding COVID-19. If you have any comments, news, or resources you would like us to send out to the Membership, you can share them with us on FacebookTwitter, or by visiting our Contact Page.

SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

Our nation's small businesses are facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. On Friday, March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the CARES Act, which contains $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses.

Funding Options

In addition to traditional SBA funding programs, the CARES Act established several new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

Paycheck Protection Program

This loan program provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program. Learn more

EIDL Loan Advance

This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties. Learn more

SBA Express Bridge Loans

Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. Learn more

SBA Debt Relief

The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more

Firestone Financial

While the current situation is unprecedented in many ways, it’s not entirely new to us. We could say our approach is business as usual. And that’s because over the last 55 years, we’ve seen our customers through record expansions and economic lows, through extraordinary events that impact their businesses and lives. And we’ll see them through this one.
When we talk to prospective customers, we often share stories of challenges and hardship. It’s our belief that you don’t always know the value of your lender until you’re faced with a crisis - and see how they respond.

There are many institutions that can lend you money, but far fewer who understand your business. And fewer still who will stand with you and help guide you through a crisis.

If you follow our communications on email and social media, you’ll know that we are proactively reaching out to our current customers - all 4,000-plus of them - with offers of assistance. We want to help make this pause in business more manageable for our customers and allow them to focus on the health and safety of their employees and loved ones, not on their next payment.

And that’s where our focus will be for the next few weeks. Our staff of 45 will be working with each customer to offer customized solutions for their current situation. We ask for your patience as we work through these requests.

Ultimately we will speak to anyone who needs our help, making those customers feel as secure as possible. This may cause a slowdown in our ability to underwrite and fund new loans during this time. We appreciate your understanding as we process every request. Thank you for your business, your trust, and your patience as we navigate through the next several weeks together.

Click here to read more

Michael Smith, Firestone Financial

Whirley Drink-Works!

On behalf, of the entire Whirley-DrinkWorks! team, we hope this message finds you and your families safe and in good health.

The top priority, at Whirley-DrinkWorks!, has always been the safety and the well-being of our Customers and TeamMates. Therefore, I personally want to update you on everything we are doing to ensure the safety of our products and our commitment to support your business during these unprecedented times. 


Whirley-DrinkWorks! is committed to highest standards of cleanliness, and health safety protocols.  Since 2015, we have been a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and Safe Quality Food (SFQ) Level 2 Certified manufacturer of food and beverage packaged products. This certification entails following the strictest operational protocols, thus enabling our products to be used directly from the box without the need for further washing.  Beyond SQF, we also follow all FDA regulations and our products are tested by 3rd party auditors.  These test results can be shared, accordingly.

During these extraordinary times, we have also instituted additional safety procedures for our TeamMates, including mandated temperature checks before each shift, as well as implementing policies focused on reducing non-essential travel, group meeting sizes, and remote working.

In addition, for our DrinkWorks! and EasyGo! Asian produced products, we are instituting additional safety precautions.

  • Most of our products are manufactured, by GFSI Certified Asian Supplier Partners. Therefore, a surface sanitizing treatment is performed on all products prior to final packaging.  In addition, the leadership teams, at these facilities, have developed similar daily temperature screening protocols.
  • According to the CDC, there is a very low risk of virus spread from products or packaging that are shipped from Asia over a period of days or weeks.  There is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods.  It is worth noting there have not been any cases in USA associated with imported goods.

Our Commitment to your Business 

Whirley-DrinkWorks! has been fortunate to operate for 60 years, as a financially secure, family owned business.  During these difficult times, we have remained operational in support of our medical drinkware customers providing products to keep patients hydrated while in hospital, along with some additional customers not adversely impacted by today’s events.

As you work through these current challenges and plan to re-open your business, our Sales Team is available to answer any questions you may have about your current orders, planning future orders and providing inventory solutions.  In addition, we understand that maximizing your food & beverage category revenue will be important and our team is here to assist.

Please know we are available and want to understand your concerns and opportunities so we can be better prepared to provide the service level you have come to expect from us.

Please Stay Safe and Stay in Touch,

Mark Charbonneau, VP Sales and Marketing

Fare Foods

The COVID-19 has impacted all of us in our industry. Our main priority is the health and safety of our employees, customers, and suppliers. We are in constant contact with our industry organizations reviewing all COVID-109 updates and State and Federal guidelines. We are implementing and closely monitoring all mandates as they become available to ensure the safety of all our employees.

As an essential business, we have focused on assisting on our community and surrounding areas making available our food supplies to hospitals, carry-out restaurants, and anyone needing food. We are following all CDC guidelines and following the social distancing to protect our employees. Our customers place their orders via phone or email, pay over the phone, and receive curb side pickup. We have limited in store shopping to no more than two customers at one time following the 6-foot social distancing guidelines.

Our vendors and suppliers have also seen a tremendous impact from the COVID-19. We are in weekly contact with those individuals updating them on event cancellations, and any information available that can be provided to assist them in their future manufacturing and supplies.
In this critical time, we have been blessed by the overwhelming response of our customers and industry friends. We have received so many phone calls, texts, and emails of encouragement. This is an example of what this industry is all about. The closeness and togetherness is more than anyone can imagine. We will continue to reach out to our customers and offer support any way we can. We are proud to be a part of this industry and what it stands for. We wish everyone health and safety.

Ron Porter, Fare Foods


The COVID 19 Pandemic impacts every element of our society, and the fair industry is no exception. The losses from cancelled fairs and non-fair events at fairgrounds is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars across the globe just since the first week of March.
The allied businesses—so vital to the success of fairs—are also hit hard. Carnival operators, mobile food operators, suppliers, and entertainers are suffering huge financial losses.

The IAFE exists to serve its members and are doing that in the following ways: Advocacy, Uniting the Network, and Education.
I believe the strength of the Association at this point in time is that our foundation is built upon members sharing with one another to strengthen the industry. Our role at the Association office is to facilitate, utilizing every tool in our virtual toolbox; and to listen to the members in calls and online discussions; to share via social media the many ways fairs are serving their communities and coming up with innovative ideas to not only help their community (i.e. delivery of educational assets for kids stuck at home), but creating online auctions and judging of youth project animals.

The IAFE staff is prepared to transition to working from home within the next few days in response to anticipated “shelter-in-place” rules, but we are fully prepared to remain engaged with members in order to come out stronger on the other side of this.

Click here to read more

Marla Calico, IAFE


At the core of every festival and event industry professional, is a Type A personality whose comfort zone is in their ability to control things. Challenges and problems are our specialty and we excel at solving them; quickly and efficiently. We control the problems, control the fallout, and move on to the next challenge. Which is why the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) global pandemic is our worst nightmare. We can’t control the virus. We can’t control the response. We can’t control the fallout. Which leads to global frustration and stress.

While we cannot control what is currently happening in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we can install our own circuit-breaker, step back with other industry professionals and partners, and readjust our own response(s). After recognizing that everyone, worldwide, is affected by the current global pandemic, and offering our sincere empathies, we need to do what we do best and revisit what it is that we do/can control and how that might positively affect our events and organizations.

Rest assured that the IFEA will continue to closely monitor the changing landscape of this pandemic on our global industry and to keep you informed and supported in the timeliest fashion possible. Wishing you all safe, healthy and successful events.

Click here to read more

Steven Wood Schmader, CFEE, IFEA


Things are moving quickly throughout the event industry and we at WFA are committed to keeping our membership and business partners fully informed as we move through these challenging times. Western Fairs Association is actively monitoring the developments concerning the Coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout our membership regions; we will continue to closely monitor the situation on your behalf. The health and wellbeing of all our members, attendees and member communities is our highest priority. We strongly urge our members to follow guidelines provided by the WHO, CDC and local health organizations, and encourage you to stay up to date on information surrounding the pandemic. In these times of uncertainty, we must trust expert advice. Please rest assured, we are in contact with our advisors and industry leaders to develop strategies to keep our members safe and financially sound, to every extent possible, while adhering to the current mandates and recommendations set forth by State Leadership.

Our goal is to continue into our 2020 Fair season with the same positivity and resilience that has propelled our industry to where it is today.

Click here to read more

Sarah Cummings, WFA


COVID-19 is ever changing, and it is important to remain connected.  I have done my best to keep Sysco field personnel updated on what is happening with each concept.

Please click on the attached link for an important message from our President, Kevin Hourican, addressed to our valued customers:

Additionally, this link will take you to Sysco’s Response Website which is continually updated:

Let us know how we can help.  Though these are strange times, we will get through this together.

Rebecca Kelley, Sysco


Our industry, for the most part, is shut down until at least the end of May. Most events are cancelled and some still scheduled most likely will not occur. The federal government has revised CDC guidelines, and many states and municipalities have imposed restrictions that surpass the federal suggestions. Our industry must be recognized by the federal government as a sector that is greatly affected by COVID-19.

Gregg Hartley and the team at HB Strategies, have changed their focus from H2B work to Federal funding for our industry in response to COVID-19. They are working very closely with OABA and the IAFE to make certain that Legislators are aware of the plight of our industry.

WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW!  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EACH OF US CAN DO TO PROVIDE RELIEF TO OUR INDUSTRY. Please send the attached letter, or one customized to your organization, to your two Federal Senators and Federal Representative today. This request is not limited to carnival operators but to everyone in our industry.

If you don’t know who to write to you can link here to find out:

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the OABA office at 407-848-4958 or

Greg Chiecko, OABA

First Data

Dear NICA Members: The recently established Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economics Security (CARES) Act provides $349 billion for small business loans to cover qualified payroll costs, rent, utilities, interest on mortgages, and other debt obligations. In partnership with the SBA, our goal is to support our small businesses during this critical time.

Clover is utilizing our partnership with Nav to help businesses apply for these loans. Nav has created a CARES Act SBA Loan calculator and through their marketplace, will give merchants the ability to apply to SBA loans under the CARES Act.

Below is a link to a recent webinar recording hosted by Clover and NAV.  We have also put together a COVID-19 Resource Guide and the webinar to provide you with easy access to this information and to answer any questions.



If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  I am happy to assist.

Tina Hollis, First Data

My heart bleeds for each of you that have been impacted by this trying time.  I spent a lot of time processing your industry and trying to wrap my head around all that everyone must be going through. You all are some of the most brilliant business minded people I have ever met.  I’m truly confident that this will pass and pray that the remainder of 2020 will be the most successful yet.

In the meantime, I want to be sure I re-educated each of you that use Clover and First Data/FiServ as to how to minimize any unnecessary fees until season picks back up again.

PCI Compliance:

If you have not completed your PCI compliance, please start here. This is something you do each year to avoid non-pci fees. For Clover users, it’s a very quick process:

  1. Go to
  2. First time users, please select first time user sign in
  3.  Your transactions are primarily face to face>you use Clover>you do not store card info> elect to use the security standards provided by Clover>then the answers to the attest questions are typically always yes


If your merchant account is specifically under NICA, please email me the Merchant ID and I will order your call tags to return rentals.

Clover App Market Fees:

  1. Go to and login
  2. Go to Account and Setup> Wireless Manager > disable sim card
  3. Go to Account and Setup>Service Plans> (this will be different as to when and how your FD agreement was setup) if you have the option to downgrade, select the lowest level plan> select change plan> Select switch bundle (this take a minute to change)> Authorize> Downgrade> lowest plan should be now highlighted.  (if you don’t have the option to downgrade, your likely already to set to the lowest plan)
  4. Go to More Tools> installed apps> If you have any non-Clover apps select that app> press three dots top right> select uninstall

If you are not working under the partner programs and want to see if working with the partner program can save you money, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or my teammates, Richard Viana or Angie Ray, for a free savings comparison.

If you have any questions, and if your accounts are under NICA, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We also have a Facebook page to get future updates. My team and I value and appreciate each of you and will do all that we can to support you during this season of wait.

Tina Hollis, First Data

SBA to Provide Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)

SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza issued the following statement in response to the President’s address to the nation:

“The President took bold, decisive action to make our 30 million small businesses more resilient to Coronavirus-related economic disruptions. Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world. Our Agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation. Additionally, the SBA continues to assist small businesses with counseling and navigating their own preparedness plans through our network of 68 District Offices and numerous Resource Partners located around the country. The SBA will continue to provide every small business with the most effective and customer-focused response possible during these times of uncertainty.”

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
  • Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.
  • Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail sends e-mail).

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Activates Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period opens March 17, 2020 and runs through May 8, 2020.

“As we mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, the health, safety and well-being of Floridians comes first,” said Governor DeSantis. “I understand the harm mitigation strategies will have on small businesses throughout our state. By activating the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, we are providing the opportunity for Florida’s small businesses to receive cash immediately to ensure they can lessen the impacts felt as a result of COVID-19.”

DEO will administer the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses economically impacted by COVID-19.

The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Up to $50 million has been allocated for the program.

“Governor DeSantis has been a true leader in the fight to prevent the spread of COVID19 and has prioritized the safety of all Floridians,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director, Ken Lawson. “The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan will help Florida’s small businesses get through this unsettling time. We appreciate the Governor’s efforts to keep Florida’s small businesses top of mind and our partners at the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to help them recover.”

Small business owners with two to 100 employees located in Florida affected by COVID-19 can apply for short-term loans up to $50,000. These loans are interest-free for up to one year and are designed to bridge the gap to either federal SBA loans or commercially available loans. DEO will work with every borrower to ensure that repayment of the loan isn’t an overwhelming burden. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to March 9, 2020 and demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19.

“Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Florida must be our number one priority,” said Florida SBDC Network CEO, Mike Myhre. “The Florida SBDC Network stands ready to assist Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to help small businesses recover as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.”

“We are ready to assist the Governor and state of Florida to deliver this vital assistance to the small business community we serve, as we have 23 times since 1992,” said Florida First Capital Finance Corporation President and CEO, Todd Kocourek.

DEO is currently surveying businesses throughout the state of Florida who have been impacted by COVID-19. Businesses and non-profits can access the Business Damage Assessment survey at FloridaDisaster.BIZ Select “COVID-19” from the drop-down menu on the survey page. Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.

For more information on the program, visit For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email

The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voice mails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours.

March 17, 2020

COVID-19: IAFE Roundtable

NICA has a wonderful sister organization in IAFE. They are hosting a Roundtable discussion on Tuesday with 100 attendees, some of whom are our members, to discuss the ramifications of COVID-19 and share some solutions. We have been asked to answer two questions and we have submitted two questions for the discussion.

In answer to the question “what are the precautions we are taking to protect patrons from the coronavirus?” We have answered: "Professional food and beverage concessionaires practice the suggested actions to prevent virus spread on a daily basis. Counters are regularly wiped down with bleach and sanitizing solutions, disposable gloves are used to move food, employees use hand sanitizers that are often also available on counters for guests, and the number one rule of food safety is 'wash your hands' 'wash your hands' 'wash your hands!' Hands are washed between every change of task. For this reason a separate hand washing sink is in every cooking facility and dishes and utensils are cleaned in a 3-cycle pattern: wash, rinse, sanitize. Further, employees are asked not to come to work with colds, flu symptoms or fevers."

In answer to the question "How are we screening workers who might have been traveling in or arrived from another country?” We have answered: "Regarding the travel of vendors, many of them travel for a variety of reasons between November and January. The majority of owners live in the US. As to the entrance of anyone into the United States (for instance, H2B workers or owners), that is under the jurisdiction of the US Government. It is the responsibility of all of us to obey the law."

NICA also submitted two questions to the Roundtable Discussion:

Context: It seems plausible that some fairs and their vendors will not have any income through May or June. It is important that those fairs are able to open in 2021 and it is important that the vendors are able to play the coming 2020 fairs that do not cancel. Out of the Houston and Miami cancellations it is the YPI age group of up and coming vendors, those that have purchased new equipment, and/or have labor to cover during the cancellations that are most in immediate financial need.

Here are the questions:

  • If fairs have already received 2020 deposit funds for cancelled fairs would they consider asking vendors 3 questions: Would you like it returned? Would you like a portion of it returned? Or May we keep it for next year?
  • If fairs have not yet asked for or received deposits for fairs that appear to be able to open, would they consider waiving the deposit totally or some portion of it in the 2020 season?

We will all be looking forward to the notes from this Roundtable and others that may follow.

Most Sincerely,

Rey O'Day
Executive Director, NICA

March 13, 2020

From the Desk of Rey O’Day, Regarding Logistic Concerns

With the cancellation of Miami Dade, we now know the cycle of cancellations has begun.  On the ground I am hearing about four major concerns:  product, deposits, labor and depression. These are all “Together We Can” matters. Importantly, some other mentioned themes were “we are strong and will persevere” and “we are helping each other.”

We all know we have lots of product on the ground in Houston and Miami. Sysco has been on the grounds throughout the day today in Houston, accepting and processing product returns as quickly and graciously as possible. Produce, dairy, and open items are unreturnable.

Here is their return policy statement:

Return Policy - We have been cleared by Sysco Corporate to pick up/return the products that fit within our guidelines. Please refresh yourself with the return policy. We will be on ground this afternoon to survey and pick up The Big Tex first. Laura Bradford from corporate will be on site to sign-off on all returns. Please sort your product in the correct climate so we can make this easier for the returns; we have to be methodical.

Some other things that have happened are that The Hummel Group has reached out to our members regarding insurance concerns. It is our understanding the Bag-in-a-Box product and cases of specialty cups have already been, or are in the process of being picked up at Miami-Dade Youth County Fair.

We know that you may not have the vehicles or storage space to move the product you are unable to return. We encourage you to use the NICA Social Media channels to ask for/offer assistance. You can use the comments on our posts on Facebook or Twitter.

Regarding deposits, I encourage you to reach out to the fairs and events that you hold 2020 contracts with and discuss deposits already made and those that are due. It is also our intent to send a letter to all fairs that hold a NICA membership, on behalf of our members to request that they work with you regarding deposits and flexibility. We are also discussing options directly with IAFE.

Throughout this difficult time, we are uplifted and encouraged to see the support amongst the NICA and greater concession/vendor community. The offering of trucks, of storage space and so much more embodies our mission of “Together We Can.” This virus is going to be both financially and emotionally devastating, including to all of us, including all of your employees. Please continue to check on your neighbors, employees and friends, offer a shoulder and a friendly ear.

Most Sincerely,

March 12, 2020

From the Desk of Rey O'Day, Executive Director of NICA

As we are all aware of the news out of Houston yesterday to close the Livestock Show, I am writing to share that NICA is holding our members, the community and our industry in our care and concern. We want you to know that we are in contact with our benefit and service providers to begin thinking about what needs to be done to keep you, your businesses and them physically safe and financially sound and whole. We are also in close communications with the other industry organizations.

I believe that the Coronavirus will have a beginning and an end and that we are in the arc of it now. However, I also believe that the timeline is completely unknown. Please know that we are here for you, communication during this time will be more important than ever. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. I urge you to take all necessary precautions to keep you, your families and your staff safe and healthy.

It is difficult to stay positive and focused in uncertain times…but I am committed to doing that together.

Most Sincerely,

October 1, 2019

Rey O'Day Named Executive Director

The NICA Board of Directors recently announced that Rey O’Day has been named Executive Director effective October 1, 2019. Rey O’Day previously served as NICA’s Executive Manager of Councils with responsibility for NICA Regional Council activities, the NICA Sysco Marketplace Master Distribution Agreement and the facilitation and implementation of NICA’s long and short-term Strategic Goals. She was also the 2016 Inductee into the NICA Hall of Fame.

Rey is no stranger to the events industry, as she teaches “Principles of Food and Beverage” and “Guest Services” for the IAFE Institute of Fair Management, serves as an IAFE Trustee on the IAFE Education Foundation, participates on the WFA Industry Standards Committee, and instructs and mentors students in the University of California–Riverside’s Event Management Program. She is a frequent speaker and trainer at Industry gatherings.

“Rey’s diverse Industry experience, proven leadership, professionalism and vast knowledge of all facets of the Industry make her the ideal Executive Director for NICA,” stated NICA President Kathy Ross, CCE.

“I am honored to direct the work of NICA with our Board, staff, membership and industry partners by being ‘dedicated to strengthening relationships with the Fair, Festival and Special Events Industries through effective communication, education, benefits, leadership, and solutions,’” stated Rey O’Day.

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