Screams and giggles of delight filled the air as people of all ages twirled, flipped and dangled upside down on the carnival rides at the Douglas County Fair.
Fairgoers lined up one-by-one to take a spin or try their hand at the carnival games.
Levi Haynes, 33, and son, Angel, 8, watched from the safety of the ground as his 6-year-old daughter, Destiny, rode her first “big kid” ride, Zero Gravity.
“I can tell now she’s going to be a thrill-seeker,” Haynes said. “I’m going to be in trouble.”
With a grin on her face, Destiny cheered as she spun around so fast the centrifugal force held her against the wall of the ride.
“I’m too dizzy,” she said afterward. “It was pretty fun. I liked that it went up and spinned around.”
Nearby, Hilary Brown of Rogue River and Tyler Vian of Roseburg sat at the front of the Kamikaze, holding on for dear life as they swung around and upside down.
“Oh my goodness. That was intense,” said Brown, 26. “Just going upside down, inverting, that was frightening and thrilling at the same time.”
Vian, 24, said he was most entertained by Brown’s facial expressions. “She talks a big game,” he said, teasing.
It was their first time on the ride.
Another first-timer, 15-year-old Nikki ToriYama clutched her chest as she exited the carnival ride, Sinbad’s, a large pendulum that swings riders high into the air.
“Terrified. Absolutely terrified. I thought I was going to die,” she sputtered, as friends gathered round to comfort her. “It’s not even how high it was going, it was how fast it was going.”
Her sister, Hayley Dixon, 13, said she convinced Nikki to try out the ride with her. “It’s sisterly love,” she said, chuckling.
Across the way, 16-year-olds Laurastina Coffman, Amber Neeman and LaTisha Case of Roseburg screamed as they dangled from the Inverter, a 48-foot tall structure with gondolas that swing and flip riders upside down.
“Oh my gosh,” said Coffman, as she stepped off the ride “It was fun.”
“It was a blast,” Neeman added.
Case said she liked being upside down and having the wind nearly knocked out of her. “It’s a rush,” she said.
All three agreed their favorite part of the fair is “spending time with good friends, riding the rides and being scared together.”
Another Inverter passenger said she was a little less impressed with the ride, however.
“I think the Ferris wheel is the scariest,” Maranatha Singleton, 15, of Roseburg said, citing the height.
She said she was disappointed that the Zipper was missing this year.
The Zipper has an oblong frame that rotates like a Ferris wheel, with free-flipping cars that move around the sides.
“That was my favorite one here,” Maranatha said.
She wasn’t the only one who missed the ride’s strong vertical G-forces.
Lauren Sandfort of Roseburg said she too was a little letdown to find her favorite ride missing from the line up.
“They’ve got some other fun rides,” she added.
Lauren, 11, took a break from the rides to square off with several other fairgoers for a chance to win a large prize at the water gun game.
The game attendant attached balloons to each station and readied the sharpshooters. The first to blow up their balloon, wins.
“I start out holding (the triggers) down to try to get a little head start,” Lauren said.
Although she didn’t walk away with a stuffed animal that round, she said it’s still one of her favorite carnival games.
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.