Imagine the smiling faces of children being spun into amusement on a Tilt-A-Whirl, some older folks recalling their lunches on a Scrambler or a man trying to show off for his loved one in a test of strength on the high striker.
Those sights have been absent from the fair in Bowman County for quite some time, much to the disappointment of many.
But that’s about to change.
Justin Wolbaum, a member of the Bowman County Fair Board, confirmed that several rides were purchased last month by the fair board at a cost of about $6,300. That cost was allocated from the board’s general fund. It was a much lesser expense considering carnivals in the past have requested they be guaranteed a $50,000 minimum for setting up in Bowman, he said.
“And (a carnival) is for only two, three days,” Wolbaum added.
Instead, the fair board sought something more permanent.
Wolbaum said Darwin Wilke, president of the fair board, found a group of carnival rides listed on a South Dakota auction site. He and a large group then headed down to Boondocks Diner & Amusement, a small theme park and diner about nine miles south of Deadwood, S.D., to look at the rides and make an offer.
They came back with something they hoped would add to the fair’s annual entertainment.
A bullet-type ride, as Wolbaum explained, was purchased, along with a miniature train, for younger children.
For the adults, the board purchased three staples to a traditional carnival, a Tilt-a-Whirl, a Scrambler and an Octopus.
The Tilt-a-Whirl is a platform-type ride, consisting of freely spinning cars that hold three or four riders, which are attached at fixed pivot points on a rotating platform. As the platform revolves, parts of the platform are raised and lowered, and the resulting forces cause the cars to spin in different directions and at variable speeds.
A historical favorite, the Scrambler—a national variation of the twist—has no platform and is driven by a lower arm assembly. The clustered vehicles are spun in one direction, while the ride as a whole spins in the opposite direction.
The Octopus is a type of amusement ride in the shape of—you guessed it—an octopus. Five to eight arms attached to a central axis spin and move up and down at random, while cars at the end of the arms spin on rotary bolts.
Wolbaum said the board plans to set up the rides in the next month to go through them, paint them and ensure they are ready for next spring when an insurance company will come out to inspect them.
“We’ve always wanted to get a carnival up here,” Wolbaum said.
While the board hasn’t formally discussed during which events the rides would be used, Wolbaum said he’d like to see the rides used during other local events, in addition to the fair.
The rides, each of which have a footprint of about 80 feet in diameter, had to be disassembled and transported via three semi trucks to get them to the county fairgrounds. The rides will be stationed south of the grandstands, between the windbreak and livestock barns due to their large size.
It took a large group of people to make that happen, including Neyl Eagon, Nathan Kees, Joe Miller, Terry McKitrick, Fred Nass, Grant Kees, Trevor and Colbey Steeke, Caydon and Blake Wolbaum, Adam Kordovsky, Ray Shinabarger, Ben Ecklend, Burke Ranch Trucking, Kees Trucking and Randy’s Welding.
The rides are somewhat aged and some work would have to be done to them before they’d become operational. Wolbaum said he wasn’t sure what the overall expense would be for that.
The fair board is now seeking volunteers and monetary sponsors to help bring the rides back to life.