Date: March 29th & 30th, 2008.
Location: SS Billiards, 732 11th Avenue South, Hopkins, Minnesota, USA., 55343.

The Pinball Circus is held twice a year at SS Billiards. Back in October 2007 the Circus was expanded from a single day to cover the whole weekend. Another change was made for the spring 2008 Pinball Circus. As was previously reported, a greater emphasis was to be put on Saturday’s events, allowing Sunday to be a less structured, and therefore more relaxed day.

It's hard to believe an entire circus can fit inside © PinTed

As per usual, set up was the sole responsibility of Lloyd. Changing the arcade over to the Circus format began after closing on Friday night and continued into the early hours of Saturday morning. As always, the purpose of setting up “The Circus” overnight was to lessen the impact on the regular customers.

The Circus was scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday so final arrangements began at eleven o’clock Saturday morning. Balloons were inflated while the food and drinks were made ready.

Bryan Kelly (AKA: “Mr. PinFootie”) took his usual post; filling colorful party balloons with helium. This year he got help from almost the entire Harr family

In alphabetical order, the regular games at SS Billiards used for the Circus were: Addams Family Collectors Edition, Attack from Mars, Corvette, Demolition Man, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Eight Ball Deluxe LE, Indianapolis 500, Lord of the Rings, Medieval Madness, NASCAR, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man (see related Pinball News article), Twilight Zone and Wheel of Fortune.

The dog at the door pointed the way to The Pinball Circus

Besides the friendly greeter, notices of the day’s and upcoming events were posted at the entry for those who were just joining the Circus.

Lloyd also wanted Circus goers to know that out-of-sight pinball machine sales were available. And, most importantly, Lloyd wanted everyone to know up front who helped make the Circus possible.

Many of the machines used a PinZero glare guard; as shown in some of the following pictures.

Especially for the party, an original Big Bang Bar was brought in. John Ross of Pinball Plus brought in and Dr. Who and Family Guy, “Big Al” of The Pinball Warehouse brought in Roller Coaster Tycoon and Jason Rufer brought in Ripley’s Believe It to Not!.

John’s, Al’s, and Jason’s games were for sale at the party. As of the writing of this review, all four pinball machines are still for sale and all three gentlemen have other games for sale as well.

Besides PinZero providing glare guards, others contributed to the arcade and/or the Circus. Lloyd had the above cards displayed and available on the pool tables for anyone who was interested to collect them

As he did for a previous Pinball Circus and May Day Pinball Tournament, Andrew Barney provided Lloyd with pinball machine staples from Pinball Life.

Lloyd had original NOS parts and new products for sale from his case

Terry, of Pinball Life, made it possible for Lloyd to sell special LEDs and universal +12 volt pin add-on controllers.

New this year, Lloyd sold specially made pin-products from a lit carrousel

Tickets for the event were provided by Triplestack Design. This design firm specializes in wedding invitations and baby announcements, but they make almost any paper product for any event.

Pictured, a two day ticket for the Pinball Circus

A ticket for the Circus cost $25 for both Saturday and Sunday, or $15 for Sunday. With purchase of a ticket you received unlimited: play on all the machines, cans of pop, hot dogs, and Papa John's magical disappearing pizza. Your ticket also allowed you entry into the pinball tournaments.

On top of all of the food and pinball, throughout the entire day on Saturday, the number on your ticket could be matched for prize drawings. So, those who registered early had a better chance of winning.

Just some of the varieties of soda pop available to Circus goers, shown on the left. Shown on the right, are the three coolers it took to keep all of the pop icy cold

Many slices of pizza were consumed on Saturday

Hot dogs and chips were also available all day Saturday

Lloyd’s arcade started to fill up early on Saturday

Pictures are a few of the fellows taking advantage of “free play” to practice before competing in the pinball tournaments

Young and old alike enjoyed competing in Saturday night pinball

This is what most everyone was competing for; the symbol of having fun playing while besting his fellow competitor 

The first of the tournaments, Saturday Night Pinball, was to begin at 6pm on Saturday but play was delayed for about ten minutes while another round of pizza arrived and was promptly eaten.

Players could register for free. The sixteen who did had their names drawn in pairs or a group of three to compete against each other. Each match up of players could choose the machine on which to compete and player order. The first person to win two games progressed to the next round.

“KK” is shown here progressing to the next round of competition

Besides KK, the other seven who progressed were then paired up again for four two-player matches using the same format.

Competitors concentrating on winning

The four who progressed to the third round were put into two pairs with the two winners each going into the third and final round. The Saturday Night Pinball final came down to Nick Foss and Larry O’Brian. The last game of the final was won by Nick; who collected $50 and a trophy.

Lloyd with Saturday Night Pinball tournament winner Nick!

At regular times throughout Saturday, Lloyd held drawing of ticket stubs. Besides helping with balloons, Bryan Kelly also helped draw the ticket stubs. Bryan randomly pulled stubs out of a bucket and Lloyd announced prizes.

The change of having a designated drawer was to avoid what happened last fall at the previous Circus, when the first couple of draws caused much ballyhoo as the people drawing tickets managed to draw their own numbers out of the bucket.

Prizes for this Circus included Pinball Circus mugs and T-shirts from previous events, and other assorted gifts.

The list of the thirty door prize winners, in order of numbers drawn, is:

  • 49 – Shirt
  • 35 – Shirt
  • 98 – Mug
  • 68 – Mug
  • 99 –Translight for “Frankenstein”
  • 32 – Spinning Disk for “Hurricane”
  • 47 – Shirt
  • 37 – Shirt
  • 36 – Mug
  • 45 – Mug
  • 69 – Translight for “Gladiators”
  • 74 – Translight for “Mario Andretti”
  • 42 – Translight for “Mario Brothers”
  • ?? – Translight for “Water World”
  • 08 – Shirt
  • 29 – Shirt
  • 11 – Mug
  • 44 – Mug
  • 05 – Translight for “Cactus Jack”
  • 38 – Translight for “Star Gate”
  • 07 – Translight for “Airborne”
  • 70 – Translight for “Rescue 911”
  • 48 – Shirt
  • 34 – Shirt
  • 31 – Mug
  • 34 – Mug
  • 30 – Translight for “Wipeout”
  • 12 – Translight for “Operation Thunder”
  • 14 – Translight for “Teed Off”
  • 43 – Translight for “Frankenstein”

The second competition of the day was to begin at 8pm. This was the Pinball Circus Tournament but because the last round of Saturday Night Pinball was still underway , the Pinball Circus Tournament didn’t get started until almost 9pm.

As with the SNP Tournament, the PC Tournament was free to enter for those who had purchased tickets, but players were paired-up and their three games were chosen by the luck of the draw.

Ten pairs of competitors and their respective games were drawn by Lloyd. Game order preference was usually decided by discovering an open game that was listed for the pair. Player order was then decided by the contestants.

The five winners went through to the next round to form one pair and a group of three.

A group of three “keeping warm” while they compete

The remaining two players continued into the final round and competed as they had all along; in a best two-of-three format. The two finalists were Dave Gorka and Nick Foss.

The last game of the final round was won by Dave; who collected $50 and a trophy.

Lloyd with the Pinball Circus tournament winner Dave!

While the rest of the day's events were taking place, there was a running Goose Egg Tournament held on Wheel of Fortune. Contestants had to play their game keeping their right hand on the right flipper button and their left hand on the backbox.

Ron scoring big on the Goose Egg competition

Ron Reul held the highest score of 4,614,450 for quite a while but Chris Axel took a late victory with his tremendous score of 14,217,170 points. For his grand efforts, Chris took the $20 cash prize.

Chris, Goose Egg Tournament winner!

As usual, there were also ToPS High Score Competitions. These High Score Tournaments were free to play and ran from noon 'till midnight. The five high score games were: Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man, Wheel of Fortune and NASCAR.

Dave Gorka cleaned up on the vast majority of the ToPS tournaments. With the exception of Pirates of the Caribbean, Dave was the winner of $20 from all of the other ToPS pinball machines.

Pirates of the Caribbean had a different pay out scheme; which Dave was a part of.
Jim - $10 for 1st place, Cody - $4 for 2nd place, Dave - $3 for 3rd place and Jim - $1 for 4th place.

The Pinball Circus Tournament continued late into the night and finished just after midnight which was the official close of Saturday's events. Unlike last year, there was no special Midnight Madness celebration.

The events were finished, but free play continued. Lloyd let a few stragglers finish their game on a rare and original Big Ban Bar; even after midnight.

A couple of “the boys” finishing their game on BBB at almost 1am.  

By the end of Saturday there were only two reported problems. The first was a broken flipper link on Addams Family. The second was a broken drop target on Big Bang Bar.

Sunday was a continuation of the Circus. Unlike Saturday, there were no tournaments or food, so there was no Pinball Masters Tournament this time.

A return Circus goer just enjoy'n free play on Roller Coaster Tycoon.

More people enjoyed pinball machines, still on free play, on Sunday afternoon.

Still more people enjoying playing pinball machines, for free, on Sunday evening.

After an entire weekend of playing pinball, the Spring 2008 Pinball Circus came to an end. After the close it was time to pack away, clean up and put things back in time for the opening on Monday morning.

Lloyd, after providing food and games to Circus attendees over the weekend.

After all was said and done, Lloyd made a point to publicly thank all those who had contributed in some way to this latest Pinball Circus.

I forward the thanks of everyone who attended the Spring 2008 Pinball Circus; for which they enjoyed yet another weekend of food, fun, and games! Hopefully this event will help raise the profile of pinball in the community.

Dates for both the May Day Pinball Tournament and the fall 2008 Circus are in the Diary section, so start making your plans to visit now.


All pictures are property of SS Billiards and are used with permission; courtesy of LTG .


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© Pinball News 2008