From Howling Pro to Carnival King – Pulling Positives Out of the Pandemic
Since the first quarter of 2020, many small and medium business owners have gone through the wringer enduring the COVID pandemic and the regulations and restrictions that come with it. For one business owner, diversification might be the key to survival. Dean Stewart, CEO of Howling Pro and Howling The Night Away Productions Inc. and CEO of Wonder Shows has hit on an idea that he hopes will turn into a hit on a cable network. He graciously took some time out of his schedule to speak with Spark News and share his idea for a show that will be called “Carnival King.”
Spark News: It’s obvious where the idea for such a show came from but how did it come about?
Dean Stewart: I’ve been hanging with Ken, his family and his Carnies for over 15 years. We originally met the first year I took over the contract for the Carman Fair doing all their sound for entertainment and announcing needs. Over the years, at the end of the day, one way or another a bunch of us would get together over a bonfire at night sharing stories. Usually laughing out loud…many being quite funny. These people work their butts off to get this heavy equipment set up and transported from town to town every week. Not everyone can handle this type of work. There’s a lot that goes on in an operation like this. In some cases a lot of drama. Ken always keeps calm and gets his crew back on track. Recently I asked Ken if he’d be interested in letting me put together the idea for a series. He agreed and that’s where this Promo YouTube video comes in.
Ken is my mentor. This guy knows hard work and determination! He’s the hardest working man I know. I don’t know anyone who deserves recognition more than him and his hard-working crew. I’d love to see this get on a Network.
SN: Who will be filming it?
DS: Well I’m putting together a local team from Wpg and area who are amazing in their field. One photographer, one editor, a local Wpg Producer and a couple of videographers want to be part of it. Being that the Wonder Shows is Manitoba owned and local this keeps the costs down. This is an investment on everyone’s part to see if we can get it to a network like the Discovery or History channel. Home of many reality series.
SN: What locations were used or will be used in the series?
DS: Well currently with the Covid situation plans will be to follow them with situations at home base in his acreage in East St. Paul. Every day seems to be an adventure. Repairs, trips for parts, and Character interviews of Ken and his staff. Due to fairs being cancelled this year making it 2 years in a row Ken is now currently trying to find a location in WPG to be set up for the entire summer. Negotiations are currently being done with plans to follow Covid Protocols like 50% attendance, social distancing, hand washstands etc. And that’s if he gets the ok from the province. Losing 2 years will be a huge financial loss for the Wonder Shows, specifically Ken being the sole owner.
(Photo Submitted) Ken Kiernicki – Owner / Operator Wonder Shows. Ken and his wife Anita have over 30 years of experience in the Carnival business. They purchased Wonder Shows in the spring of 2000. For more information on the Wonder Shows click here.
SN: What level of budget will facilitate this series?
DS: Well right now there is no budget to be honest, just up to 5 of us wanting to do it as a project participating at our own expense offering our expertise to possibly get the Wonder Shows “Carnival King” seen by millions on a major network. In return, it may help Ken for the losses he’s experiencing as well as become a financial opportunity for the rest of us. Let’s say we’re hoping for a return on investment, that being our time and expertise.
SN: The pandemic decimated many businesses and or entire industries. The entertainment industry is one of the worst-hit because of the health regulations and restrictions caused by the virus. What is the current state of the carnival industry and do you foresee any recovery of it within say the next 3 – 5 years?
DS: Well if Ken is able to operate like that of “Tinker Town” southeast of the city of WPG, finding a permanent summer location with easy access and high traffic, he’ll be able to get through this. Tinker Town’s operation was allowed to operate at 50% with COVID protocols in place having a decent year last year financially. So as one of Ken’s friends I’m doing my part to help him where I can.
I grew up with the Wonder Shows back when they used to do the Austin Agricultural Fair. Our family would go to that fair annually. Great memories as a kid. Ken’s a guy everyone will love if it hits a network. Just an all-out great guy who cares for everyone especially his crew.
SN: The recorded music and entertainment industry has also taken a huge hit over the past year or so. How have you sustained your business and how do you see things recovering over the next year or so?
DS: My company has had to adapt to new ideas like most businesses of the same and business in general in order to get through this pandemic. I’m not one to sit around and feel sorry for myself, I’ve always been and will always be proactive. I had to examine areas we could specialize in that in many ways was related to live events and what we do currently as a company. It was obvious we had to promote taking events online. Howling Pro jumped on that right away even though it took months for organizations to try it. Seeing that restrictions weren’t changing for events and crowds, clients started calling and we were ready. We started promoting Zoom Large Event Meeting and Webinar Management Services last year. Set up a studio at the Victoria Inn here in WPG due to many of my clients being from here. Lucky for us it was a success doing over 13 events to date. So far it definitely helped cushion the blow of Covid cancellations.
SN: How many episodes of Carnival King do you plan on shooting?
DS: I’m thinking 10 to start to see if we can get the interest we want. That being with people in general and or the Discovery Channel or History Channel. I’ve registered as a producer for both companies’ idea portals for future show ideas presented by producers. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for some luck!
SN: The Trailer or at least a preview is currently up on Youtube, will the series be available on that platform too or do you have other plans for distribution?
DS: I think we will add a couple more but push more to the direction of networks.
SN: Have you pitched it to any networks?
DS: Started doing it already. Registering on Network Producer Portals for Discovery Channel and History Channel. Another one being Arcadia Media from Nova Scotia. Sent the Video to the Producers’ Assistant. I met the Owner/Producer of Arcadia via FB after watching one of his companies documentaries. Sent him a message complimenting all of them for a fantastic job. We remain friends and have chatted on FB numerous times. I’ve shared one other project I like to pursue. That may be announced in the near future but right now it’s confidential and between Arcadia’s John Chisolm and myself. For those who don’t know Arcadia Media, they do documentaries and are amazing. Winning many awards making Canada Proud. One of their shows is “The Woodstock Bus” if you get a chance to watch it, you’ll be very pleased you did. I could watch it over and over again. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/sGVT8xWfuRs
SN: Thanks for your time on this Dean and best of luck with this endeavour.
DS: Thanks for your interest!
*** As of this writing, Carnival King has been presented to two producers who are interested in moving forward with the development of the show. Here’s the link to the trailer: https://youtu.be/AZJYNrdUzqI
For more details about Carnival King or Howling Pro contact Dean Stewart at www.howlingpro.com