Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Big, Big Fair

The picture is from the Columbus Dispatch website. It shows the midway of the Ohio State Fair with the beautiful skyline of downtown Columbus in the background.

The Columbus, Ohio area has been my home for over 50 years. In general, I really like this area. While I'm not thrilled with the dreary winters, there much to see and do within driving distance. And while our skyline doesn't match that of New York City or Chicago, it's still majestic and still ours.

The Ohio State Fair has been a Columbus staple for many years. For me it has meant a midway full of thrilling rides, many not even found in theme parks. One such ride is the zipper.

The key to enjoyment of this machine is that it rotates much like a ferris wheel. The cars are on a chain track that travels in the opposite direction that the super structure is turning. When a car reaches the end of the super structure, the car tumbles. Because of the different directions the car is turning, the sensations of thrill are overwhelming.

While driving along I-71, I didn't see this unique and stomach churning machine on the fair midway, but it's been there in the past and is one of the few places that has had one of these machines taking riders.

The Ohio State Fair lore would not be complete without a mention of former Governor James Rhodes and fair manager Billy Inman.

Governor Rhodes made the fair a cornerstone of his 16 years in office during the 60's, 70's and early 80's. All governors since have had to don a stetson hat and spend the night in the junior fair sheep barn, whether it was really what they wanted to do or not. During the Rhodes administration, it was always a battle between Ohio and Texas as to who had the largest fair, with each year after year pointing to statistics that would prove one fair larger than the other.

As for Billy Inman, we'll just let his short tenure as fair manager fade into the sunset.

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