Candy floss is almost, but not quite, 100% sugar. There is a minute amount of colouring and flavourings, and if you go for our alcoholic range there is actual vodka, tequila and such like, but its mainly sugar.
Now a typical candy floss machine, has a cylindrical drum, with space in the centre to pour this sugar mixture into. This drum performs two important functions. It rotates at high speed, forcing the sugar outwards against a wire mesh. Secondly, this wire mesh heats up to 186 degrees centigrade. This just happens to be the melting point of sugar.
At this temperature, the heat breaks the bonds of the sugar molecules Causing the hydrogen and oxygen atoms to rearrange and form water molecules. The water evaporates leaving carbon behind, which begins to burn and caramelises the sugar.
As the drum is still rotating at high speed, this liquid is flung outwards at high speed. It solidifies as it streams out, but it happens so quickly and the strands are only 50 microns thick that you only really see it as it hits the inside of the bowl.
This is collected by the operator using a stick, or as they often do in the states a paper cones. The result is the classic fluffy candy floss we all know and love.
The Real Way Fairy Floss Is Made
Of course you try telling this explanation to an average excited kid and just watch their eyes glaze over. So just for them we have a real explanation.
Inside the bottom of our candy floss machines, live a band of Irish Faerie Folk, the Sidhe. These happy little folk sit there merrily knitting away to turn the mixture from sugar into fairy floss. Once they have knitted it they push it out through the little holes in the centre drum. Whereupon it is collected by the operator.
Operating nationwide over the years we have provided attractions and services at a multitude of different events and venues. Some we visit once then never see again. Others we seem to turn up at regularly. Some we find to be awkward venues that we would rather not be at. Others like Bert’s Barrow quickly become favourites. Usually it’s down to the people in charge. They can make a venue welcoming, easy for us to operate at and make us want to return.
Bert’s is a family run farm, that has been turned into an events venue. Usable for smaller events such as weddings. Or equally lending itself to larger corporate events, with full funfair rides etc.
We have provided attractions for family fun days at a few events there and found Charlotte, Jason and the team to be accomodating and made the events just so easy for us. Definitely worth a look if you want to run a corporate function in the West Yorkshire area.
They also offer a great time around Halloween when you can go picking your own pumpkins. Pet dogs? No probs, take them with you. With funfair rides and other attractions it makes a great day out for the family.
December is usually our busiest month, by quite a margin. This year it got even bigger. We picked up a contract with Amazon to provide their Peak Treats service.
Basically it consisted of visiting 70 Amazon’s in 4 countries over 6 weeks, dispensing over 66000 Salted Pretzels and 15,000 litres of mulled wine (Non alcoholic sadly)
So how did it go. On the surface all serene and everyone happy.
Underneath, our usual paddling madly like ducks to make it look all serene.
Last Minute As Usual
We were notified that we had won the tender for the event. However we had to provide a sample of the food and drink for a company tasting. So obviously we didn’t want to start spending money on stock etc until after the tasting just in case it all went Pete Tong.
Happily they loved the items on the tasting and everything was finally signed off, 8 days before we were due to begin. This meant we have roughly a week to design and build 6 new mini Christmas huts for the job. To buy and take delivery of high capacity boilers and pretzel warming cabinets, new mains, obtain enough stock and and sort out freezer facilities for tens of thousands of pretzels.
Building The Stalls
Luckily the local fabricator we use was a bit quiet on the work front. So we nipped some spare steel we had up to him and talked him through fabricating the frame we needed. This took best part of a day. Fortunately the cover guy we had found was in the vicinity that afternoon so he called and measured up for the covers we needed and promised to have them ready for Sunday teatime (The job started Monday morning gulp).
A quick trip to the woodyard to have the counters made, and then the paint shop to pick up our new favourite product Raptor with which to coat the steel. Nigel promised to have all the steel work ready for mid week so things were on track. Our resident wood guy measured up for the wooden panels we needed and promised to have them by Sunday as well.
We priced up a freezer trailer hire for the pretzels, but quickly worked out we could buy a second hand unit cheaper than hiring one, so that’s what we did. It was delivered about an hour before our first delivery of pretzels, so just in time, but hey, it was there. This proved to be a godsend. Not just for the pretzels, but a number of other jobs where we usually ended up disposing of stock, we suddenly found we had the storage capacity to keep it, so win win all around.
The pretzels came from a company we have used in the past who import them directly from Germany. The mulled wine was sourced initially from a localish company, which was handy, the problem was they only did them in bottles. So for the initial batch I ordered a thousand bottles. We went in one of our vans to collect the order. 2 pallets worth. The fork lift driver rubbed his beard, “Whats the payload of this van”.
“About a 1.2 tonne I think”, I replied.
“Ahh well 2 pallets is 1.2 tonne mate, and you too will take it a little over”
Oh FFS. “It’ll be OK, stick them in”
Only it wasn’t, once they were in the van towbar was touching the floor. Turns out that particular van was only a 1 tonne payload. We had to take one out and make another sodding trip. After that we sourced an alternative that came in 10 litre drums and was delivered direct to our yard.
The equipment we sourced started out pretty well. And worked pretty well for about a fortnight. Then the warming cabinets started blowing the electric at random times. Turns out they have a design fault. The U shaped heating element in the bottom expands as it heats up. As it expands it rubs against the ide of the cabinet. Luckily it is insulated. Unluckily continued rubbing removes the insulation and then blows the electric. Quick work bending the ends of the element sorted that out.
I had all 3 of our vans serviced before we started thinking this would ensure everything was OK. Only true to form Murphy bit us twice.
On the very first day the van i was driving suddenly flashed up a warning that it was no longer charging the battery half way to the site at Rugeley. Now having owned Citroen Dispatches for a number of years I know that a failed alternator or snapped fan belt doesn’t damage the engine. I also knew from past experience that as the battery voltage dropped the van computer would start to shut systems down.
Sure enough ten mile from the destination, just as I hit twisty windy country roads, the electrically assisted power steering shut down. Followed by brake assistance, lights, indicators etc.
I actually got to the venue, pulled into the usual parking bay and applied the handbrake just as the engine shut down, phew.
Now the important thing was we had got there. Getting home should have been a problem, but one of our staff, Fred, had been late getting to work. So in temper he was told he was going to have to drive his own van and meet me at the job. So we had a spare van to tow me back.
The same sodding thing happened a week later with a totally different van. Only this time it was at Dunfermline in Scotland. This resulted in us having to call at Halfords and buy 2 new batteries so that we could keep changing them on the way home to keep the engine running.
Mentioning Fred, one of our regular staff members, we have officially changed his name to Frank Spencer (If you are too young to remember Frank, check him out here) . He left a trail of destruction throughout the duration of the contract. including;
Putting the plastic chocolate sauce bottles in the electric pretzel oven to warm them up. Cue an aroma of melted chocolate and plastic!
Faffing about with the gel packs in one of our ethanol gel pretzel warmers, managing to set his hand on fire, shaking it to get the burning gel off, and successfully setting fire to one of the brand new covers on our Christmas huts.
Deciding to move the fully loaded pretzel ovens on a job and forgetting to plug them back into the electric. Resulting in a panic to get everything warmed up in time of opening.
The only other real hiccup we had, was the fact that we would do an afternoon shift at Amazon, then go back for the evening shift. But for some reason, the night security never seemed to have been notified that we had been booked to do the job. Cue most evening trying to convince security to actually let us on site.
Don’t look now but the holidays are just around the corner. If you are hosting a holiday party this year, now is the time to get started with your planning. Leaving yourself plenty of time to put all of the pieces together will ensure that your party is the hit of the season. Here are five things that you need to host an unforgettable holiday party this year.
An Amazing Menu
Every great party starts with an amazing menu. The food spread will always be the focal point of any event, making it important that you put some thought into this aspect of your planning. Be sure to provide a variety of options, including healthier items along with choices for those with sensitive diets. You will also need to offer a mix of savory and sweet items. The timing of your event will largely dictate the scope of your menu.
You would be wise to choose some menu items that you can prepare ahead of time. This will ensure that you are able to enjoy the event rather than spending too much time in the kitchen. Leaning on the services of a professional caterer is ideal if your budget allows it.
A Varied Bar
In addition to great food, you will need to consider the drink menu for your event. Start with offering a few different types of beer and wine. You will need at least one red wine and one white varietal. Champagne is a natural choice for this festive time of the year.
It is also fun tocreate a signature cocktail for your party. The flavors of the holidays provide many fun ideas. Eggnog makes a great base for a myriad of holiday-themed cocktails. Mulled wine is always a hit for a holiday party. Or encourage your guests to get cozy with a mug of boozy hot chocolate or a hot buttered rum. The possibilities are endless when you have all of the popular flavors of the season to use as your inspiration.
Your party will go off without a hitch if you leave the heavy lifting to the professionals. When you choose to hire event staff, you will feel confident that every element of your party is in good hands.
Good roles to farm out include bartenders, caterers, and food servers. You can also hire staff to handle the set-up and clean-up of your event, making it easier for you to enjoy being in the moment. Regardless of if you are planning a large corporate blowout or an intimate celebration, professional help will take the strain off of you.
Setting the Mood
Every good holiday party includes a mood that is carried through all of the details. The decor that you choose will go a long way in achieving the mood that you are aiming to create. This includes choosing the right lighting. Candles are an easy and affordable way to add that special holiday glow to your event.
Other good ways to add a festive ambiance include using scents to bring out the vibe of the holidays. Evergreen, cinnamon, and vanilla are all good choices for this time of the year. Lastly, do not forget to create a great music playlist. The music you choose will help to create the mood that you are aiming to replicate.
All of the Extras
Do not fail to neglect all of the small details that will elevate your party to an event that nobody will ever forget. There are a number of extras that you can consider for your party. How about setting up a photo booth with a variety of fun props?
Another good idea to implement is to provide all of your guests with a take-home gift. Appropriate ideas for a holiday party include a box of beautifully decorated cookies or treats, cinnamon-scented pinecones, or a festive ornament for them to take home for their tree. These are the little things that everyone will remember about the party long after it is over.
All five of these items are essential for a fabulous holiday party. Lean into the spirit of the season to make this year’s party one for the record books.
When it comes to setting up a funfair there are a lot of misconceptions. People often go to bed, then when they get up the next morning there is a fully fledged fair spread through their high street. So how does this happen?
Well, the first thing to explain, is that we do have permission to be there. We once had a newcomer to a town ring the council to report the town being invaded by ‘fair people’, only for the council to inform him that the fair had been held in the town for some 300 odd years!
Large events like that take months of planning, along with a host of health and safety paperwork and permissions such as road closures, so its ludicrous for someone to expect that we have just ‘rolled’ into town and set up a fair because we feel like it.
Sequence Of Events
Most major events have been running for decades, and in some cases hundreds of years. So these tend to be firm fixtures in our calendar. Months before the actual event, requisite licences and permissions are applied for. Permissions for road closures etc are applied for. A comprehensive event plan, with insurance documents and ADIPS safety testing documents for all the attractions are submitted for approval.
Once these have been signed off. The showmen actually attending the event are informed of the ‘sites’ they have been allocated. These are all listed on a master build plan, to enable everything to be set up with the necessary safety spacing and such.
Whilst to the outside eye, the fair might look like a random collection of rides, games and catering units. It is actually a carefully choreographed set up with specific sections of the event allocated to individual attractions. Many of the rides are high speed, and need positioning super accurately in high street to ensure they don’t knock the lampposts down or similar.
On the day of the set up, the attractions pull into position. This is usually in a specific ordes some of the rides need a large clear space around them for the initial set up. Once everything is in and erected. Designated safety officers will check that the necessary build requirements are being adhered to. For example emergency exits are not impeded, or heavy rides aren’t obstructing the public pavement.
Only when all the boxes have been ticked will the event be signed off as good to go.
A few year back, about 15 to be precise. We launched an initiative to become the most environmentally friendly funfair operator on the circuit. We switched to running on bio diesel. Swapped all of our catering consumables to bio friendly alternatives. Started switching to the then, new technology of LED lighting. Even looked at adding solar panels and a mini wind turbine to our helter skelter to run the lights. We even purchased a set of Swedish designed compost tumblers to dispose of our food waste.
Armed with the glow of the righteous, we set about marketing our new environmentally friendly catering services, and took pains to explain in detail what we were doing. And it went down a storm. People loved it. BUT, and it was a big BUT.
The reply we got when sending quotes in for our services was along the lines of;
“Wow, what you guys are doing is fabulous, we really love it, hope you keep it up, unfortunately the non environmentally friendly operators are just a little bit cheaper than you, so I am afraid we will have to go with them!”
It quickly became apparent that we were going to end up as the most environmentally friendly bankrupt funfair operators out there.
Back To The Drawing Board
In truth, we pretty much went back to operating like everyone else. The fact was that saving the world was just too expensive at that time. If no one else was going to do it, putting ourselves out of business wasn’t really a sound business plan. You didn’t need an MBA from Harvard to suss that one.
So, what has that got to do with the price of bacon?
Well, we think the time is right to re launch our aims. The environment is suddenly a mainstream topic. It beginning to reach the stage where being enviro conscious is no longer the exception, rather you are expected to take it into account.
It does help that items such as drinks cups and plates etc are dropping in price for the biodegradable versions. So mush so that there is now only a slight premium in using them. Most items, such as cutlery ,plates, bowls, cups etc are widely available in various ‘plastics’ made from plant matter, or sugar cane.
The one hold out is bloody straws, the awful paper things we have been saddled with are useless. Three sucks of any liquid and the things collapse. So if you know of an alternative we would be happy to hear from you.
Keep checking back, as we will be launching a new environmentally friendly catering initiative in the coming months.
Like many businesses, we changed course during the Covid pandemic. Only slightly admittedly, in fact more of a subtle swerve. I always used to say that we provided fun catering rather than full meals or the like. During the lockdown though a number of our biggest clients started asking for burgers and fries, Chinese noodles, rice pots and the like.
Not a problem, we can do that. What did crop up as a concern though was the fact that providing 900 burgers, meant we were having to transport far more stock than what we used to do with say candy floss, which at most would be a big tub of sugar. 900 buns take up a considerable amount of room.
So what to do, the obvious choice was buy bigger vans, trouble is, parking is a nightmare in places like London when you have a little van, so something long wheel base would be a nightmare. The other option was to acquire some box trailers. These could be used for things like stock, freezers, additional catering equipment etc. And when we didn’t need them could be left at base and we were back to our usual small vans.
The first of our new Debon C500 trailers has just arrived and been collected from the dealers. Pictured below this gives us a decent amount of additional carrying capacity, both in space and weight terms. It also looks the part being a modern construction, so will look great parked up at events.
The first thing we did on taking delivery, was to get it straight into our graphics people to have it lettered. Now this is a new thing for us. In the past because of the amount of jobs we did for other events companies we shied away from having the vans personalised. But with some young blood on the management team we have rethought that position and will be making sure our new Crazy & Co. brand is front and centre whenever possible.
Ziggy & Our New Branding
Pictured below is the current design for the trailer. Ziggy our zebra logo is prominent, along with details of what we do. Our web and social media, and a quirky saying for those following us to laugh about. The branding will be rolled out on our new equipment, and also gradually added to our existing fleet.
Next up in our new range of food trucks is our converted horse box. We looked at a wide range of converted horse trailers, but were never 100% happy with the design. We happened by chance upon a maker called Sinclair, long defunct, but their trailers were different as they had a curved front panel rather than the usual triangular style.
After much searching we located one at the other end of the country, a brief conversation and we were told that it is perfect, ready for the road.
Cue and early morning trip to Bournemouth. On arrival, the rather vacant sounding young man informed us that actually the lights don’t work. Hmm, so not quite road worthy then. Luckily I had the foresight to throw a lighboard in.
However upon examining the trailer we discovered that it had four different sized wheels.
“Tell you what mate, I’ll ring the boss and tell her about the trailer and let you know”
Luckily I had a back up plan, I had found another trailer at Knutsford, only about 100 miles out of our way on the return trip lol, and this one was described as ‘mint’.
We duly arrived at Knutsford. The trailer was far from mint, but it was suitable for what we wanted. We struck a deal, coupled up and discovered that a short on the trailer lights had blew the lights on the van. That turned into a whole other saga as changing the fuse necessitated a full strip down of the dash to reach the bloody thing.
But I digress, we set off home sans lights. On the way we did receive a text message from the first seller asking when we would be returning for the first trailer. FFS, we left there 7 hours ago.
The Initial Strip Down
After careful consideration we decided that rather than doing what most people seem to do, a quick coat of brush paint and throw some counters in, we decided to make it something nice.
So we started with a complete strip down to the bare frames, leaving my other half to retort, all you have actually bought is a bloody frame!
Taking it back to bare metal we primed everything with rustcoat, then coated the entire frame with black Raptor, one of our favourite products. This gives a hard wearing textured finish that protects everything and covers amazingly well.
One of the concerns the health inspector had was that the original floor would contain years of horse urine soaked into the wood. No probs, as we stripped and burned the original wood flooring and binned the rubber coating.
A new wood floor was fitted, two coats of stain to seal it, then a new rubber coating.
Big Decision, Wooden Cladding
One of the major decisions was how we were going to finish the exterior. The original wood was a high grade hardwood, but because all the screws and bolts were seized in, we pretty much destroyed it taking it off. A trip to our local wood guys yard and a look through his collection of woods saw us settling on Sapele. A tropical hardwood that is related to mahogany, and is a fabulous colour, ranging from red to golden brown.
We used a soak in wood treatment on all the panels, then a number of coats of satin varnish, as we didn’t want an overly glossy look to the trailer.
We also settled on a satin black for the fibreglass roof and aluminium corner panels. Again, we wanted a less shiny look, though I admit the satin clearcoat was a nightmare to spray without it looking patchy. In the end after numerous attempts I gave up. But curiously, after a couple of weeks the patches disappeared and a uniform coating appeared????
The front corner panels were steel, they were overly heavy and badly rusted, so we replaced them with three mm aluminium. In retrospect two mm might have been sufficient as the three really took some bending.
Making It Different
We wanted a different look to the usual horse trailers, and I freely admit that we had seen an American horse trailer that we loved, so we used that for inspiration. One of the things we added to achieve this different look was a number of windows, both to let light into the trailer, and to add some visual appeal.
On To The Interior
Finally we got started with the interior. A number of steel frames were built in situ, with sapele front panels added and temporary countertops in MDF. A water tank, water heater and waste system, single and three phase electrics and a cooking fume extraction system. Also in common with our other food trucks we added a 42 inch display for menus and such.
The interior corners we added alternating sapele and idigbo strips to add some visual effect.
Another Of Our Food Trucks Almost Finished
Our programmable light panel.
We added decorative copper panels to the exterior and additional windows to the front. Just waiting on the production of our top sign at this point.
Have you ever wondered about when the fair comes town. It suddenly appear on your doorstep, almost overnight in many cases?
The funfair owner just gets up one day and decides to come and set up in the park across from your house right?
Erm, no, not exactly. Most events are planned months in advance. Indeed many fairs follow a regular date, in some cases stretching back hundreds of years. They tend to be the culmination of much planning, regular meetings, inspections and so on.
We were responsible for a few years for the fairground supplied in conjunction with the summer festival at Gainsborough. I had happened across the event whilst passing through the town one summer day. I contacted the organisers about attending with some attractions at the following years event. This was politely declined, and I tried again the following year with a similar result. Out of the blue I received an email asking if I would like to supply a couple of candy floss and Popcorn stalls. So cue a meeting with the relevant people, a deal was agreed and I was asked to supply all of my safety documentation.
A few weeks later, again out of the blue, the organisers asked if I would be interested in supplying a full range of attractions. This meant another meeting and plans being discussed. This proceeded quite well, until it was pointed out that the council couldn’t agree this with us directly, it had to be put out to tender to a minimum of 3 operators.
All 3 of us submitted tenders, and eventually we were notified that we had been successful.
After receiving the green light, we submitted details of the actual line up we proposed along with safety documentation. Then the council Health & Safety team contacted us asking for an onsite meeting. Cue another trip to Gainsborough to talk through their concerns.
Full steam ahead now, or so we thought. Until we were informed that part of the car park could not be occupied. It turns out that a local solicitors needed 24hr access to their building. So this meant a rewrite of the plan, and some modification to the line up we were bringing.
The day before the event, we had to be in Gainsborough to oversee the setting up and siting of rides. We were obviously there for the day of the event. Also the day after to ensure we had cleaned the site up and caused no damage. Oh, and the organisers wanted a debriefing meeting to discuss any issues that had come up.
So you can see, far from just rolling up, we had not only to deal with numerous organisations and individuals at the planning stage. We also had to travel to Gainsborough a number of times, for in the end what was a 1 day event.
When the fair comes to town, its the result of a lot of hard work, before the rides even turn up.