Flying upside down, twirling in circles and gliding through the hot August air, kids of all ages enjoyed the carnival rides at the Douglas County Fair Friday.
Trevor Knox and Charles Anderson, 13-year-olds from Roseburg, flew overhead as if hang gliding on the Cliff Hanger ride before scouting out their next thrill.
“It goes super low then all of a sudden it’s really high and you wonder how you got there,” Anderson said of the Cliff Hanger. “It was a mellow ride.”
They both said their favorite ride so far is Zero Gravity.
“It was like trying to fly but there was pressure on you the whole time,” Knox described.
“I thought it’d be weird at first but then you get going and the centrifugal force is grabbing you the whole time,” Anderson added.
“It’s family fun time,” said Jenna Whittington of Roseburg, who brought her daughter Ellie Sawyer, 2, to ride on the firetruck and airplane rides. “She had fun and got to play the fish game,” she added, holding up a toy starfish.
For Curtis Bryant and Fransisco Guerrero, who operate the rides through Funtastic Shows, fairs are a chance to bring smiles to kids’ faces.
Bryant has many happy memories of bringing his own grandchildren to the Washington State Fair, and six years ago he decided to try something new and operate the rides himself.
“They loved it, and I wanted to see the other side of it, what [the operators] have to do to get those smiles on my grandkids’ faces,” said Bryant, 48. When he isn’t spending time with his own grandchildren, the next best thing is to make other children smile, he said.
While Guerrero enjoys interacting with the fair-goers, his favorite part is setting up and tearing down the rides every week, especially when he gets to climb up to the center of the Ferris wheel to put it together or take it apart.
“I’m a climber so I get to climb a bunch of the rides,” he said, adding he takes care of the roller coaster and washes the track every morning.
“You get a little rush right before tear down,” he said. “Operating is all good, but the set up and tear down is where the real work comes in, where you get your hands dirty. It’s a real work out too.”
Guerrero, 26, started working with Funtastic a couple years ago when his friends asked him to apply. He said he was nervous at first, but after climbing up the Ferris wheel a few times it became like second nature to him, and he gets to see some spectacular views from up there.
Bryant said it’s been a long six years but he meets new people and learns something different every day at the many fairs he sees. He said he’s learned to have more patience with the adults he interacts with, and to accept people who are different from him.
The two plan to tear down the carnival rides this Sunday to set them up again in Canby next week for the Clackamas County Fair.
But before then, Saturday promises another fun-filled day of roller coasters, Skee-Ball, Whack-a-Mole and haunted houses.
10-year-old Sydney Butterfield of Medford especially liked the Cliff Hanger and the air plane rides which let her soar above the fairgrounds.
“They’re fun to go on and you can go on them over and over,” she said.
Her 7-and-a-half-year-old sister Blaire said she prefers the swing.
“It feels like when you’re on an airplane how you’re flying in the air,” Blaire Butterfield said.
Knox and Anderson said they plan to work their way up to more thrilling rides.
“Hopefully I can get him to go on the Kamikaze,” Knox said of the pendulum ride that swings its passengers upside down.
“It’s a really fun thing,” he added of the fair. “I hope they keep doing this for years to come.”