Small but Outstanding Excellence7 November 2023
/ The 2023 edition of the Rides Meeting (Meeting della Giostra), an annual event in the province of Rovigo, Italy hit the mark by effectively expressing the profound purpose of the event: to promote the businesses of the Italian Rides District and introduce them directly and impactfully to international buyers /
The area of Polesine in the province of Rovigo, Italy, spanning the municipalities of Bergantino, Melara, Calto, as well as the even smaller towns of Ceneselli, Castelmassa, and Castelnovo Bariano, is a tiny dot on the geographical maps of Italy. It is also a relatively unknown territory, not only to foreigners but also to the majority of Italians.
This corner of the world, home to barely 15,000 inhabitants, has historically been highly productive for the Italian amusement industry and a significant reference point for the rides industry on an international level. It is, in fact, the homeland of the Rides District (Distretto della Giostra), a rare example of an area of just a few square kilometers, in which are concentrated up to 70 businesses focusing on the same market. These businesses are generally medium to small, family-run enterprises that work on everything related to amusements: turnkey amusement rides, as well as their components such as lighting systems, ticket offices, trailers, airbrushed decorations, scenery, metalwork, caravans, fireworks display, and more. Over the years, these diverse activities and expertise have come together, producing products for both fixed and travelling amusement parks that are sold worldwide, with export percentages exceeding 95% of the total production and generating billings in the range of millions of euros.
To communicate directly and engagingly with the market, CNA Padova Rovigo, which coordinates the sector’s activities, together with the Veneto Region and Venicepromex, with support from the Venice Rovigo Chamber of Commerce and the municipalities of Bergantino, Melara, and Calto, annually organizes the Meeting della Giostra (Rides Meeting). This is an incoming event, where potential foreign buyers are invited to get to know the District up close, the local leisure businesses, the quality of their products, and the well-established traditions behind them.
This year, the Meeting took place from October 15 to 19. During their stay in Italy, the attendees (owners and directors of amusement parks and resorts of various types, coming from 9 countries) were led on more than 10 company tours, revealing the surprising production realities hidden in this small Italian geographical area. They entered the facilities, breathed in the atmosphere, observed the machinery and the staff at work, heard from the managers about the strengths, investments, and projects, found answers to their questions, and got a hands-on experience with the rides and other products under construction, in testing phases, and bound for distant nations. In this way, they also witnessed, through tangible evidence, the perfect blend of artisanal craftsmanship and high industrial standards that characterizes the production of the District, resulting in internationally recognized high quality.
In addition to the company tours, the Meeting included the gala awards ceremony for the Golden Pony® Awards 2023 (see the reportage in the following pages), organized by our publishing house, Facto Edizioni, with the contribution of TOGO Media (for photography and video services), and a visit to the Historical Museum of Amusement Rides and Traveling Shows in Bergantino. Here, the guests were taken on a journey through time, exploring the major milestones in the history of traveling street entertainment: from its medieval origins as a fair-market to the modern-day funfairs with technological marvels. They also discovered the strong connection between the birth of the amusement ride industry in Bergantino and neighboring municipalities and some ingenious showman families originating from these lands.
A new feature of this year’s Meeting was a day dedicated to exploring the territory surrounding the Rides District, with its natural beauty, culture, history, and economic activities. In particular, the guests embarked on a bus excursion to the Po Delta Park, with a stop at the Regional Museum of Land Reclamation, housed in a splendid site of industrial archaeology: a former water pumping station that played a crucial role in the land reclamation efforts of the Delta’ swamps in the early 20th century. The effort made the land habitable and productive while preserving the natural balance between water and land. From there, the excursion continued to the Sacca degli Scardovari, a vast water basin near Porto Tolle, known for its attractive landscapes and the cultivation of shellfish (especially mussels, clams, and pink oysters) carried out with unique methods and equipment. The guests enjoyed the territory with their eyes but also with the palate, by having lunch in a typical restaurant run by fishing families, which served simple dishes prepared with the catch of the day.
Photos Courtesy: TOGO Media
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