Freeborn County Fair: Testing the rides

Published 9:28 am Thursday, July 31, 2008

When handed the opportunity to review the rides at the Freeborn County Fair I hit the ground running — literally.

I ran from the Tilt-A-Whirl to the Super Slide to the Ferris wheel all the while enjoying every attraction the fair had to offer.

I am sure my sanity was called into question by those who watched me whiz past them to rush to the front of the line for the merry-go-round and I even questioned myself as I listened to the sounds of the Kamikaze while I was suspended upside down at its apex, praying the machine would not stop.

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The Ferris wheel operator could see my trepidation as I hopped on, announcing to the fearless 6-year-old who accompanied me that there were two rules: no rocking and no crying.

Surely I didn’t expect such harassment, but I probably deserved it for my antics on the Crazy Bus and the Go-Gator rollercoaster — two kiddie rides.

On the Crazy Bus I led the children in screaming as their parents wondered why I was on the ride. On the Go-Gator coaster the operator looked at me strangely, but allowed me to board. I had to sit sideways in order to fit and still had to wear the safety belt. Afterward he told me he might have to fix the ride’s transmission, but if he did, it meant a day off for him.

After the Wacky Shack, I had had enough. Tt was time for the big boy rides. I spoke with the experts before I hopped on the Crazy Bus and they all told me to try the Starship 2000.

From what I gathered — which wasn’t a whole lot to go on — the ride was totally awesome and spins you around a lot and you do flips and stuff.

I was still unsure of what the ride was like, but I decided to give it a go. I didn’t have much time as everyone had piled in already and I ran to make it in time. I entered to sounds of Pink Floyd and the children to my left telling me to keep two spaces open because they like to flip. The ride resembled a top from the outside that would just spin, but the mystical journey was just beginning.

Around and around we went, the lights turning red then yellow then cutting out. The children counted down — for what I was unsure. Then, it happened. The forces of gravity hit me like a ton of bricks and I was pushed to the back of the wall, reduced to a giggling dunderhead.

As the children turned and twisted, my focus shifted to the man inside the machine. He sat at the center and looked like the supreme leader of some futuristic rogue nation. There were TV screens above him and it felt like he wielded all the power in the world. It was an insane torture device designed to make me to give up whatever information I held. I had nothing, but I would have told him everything because I was completely powerless. As the g-forces increased I found it difficult to breathe. Again, all I could do was hopelessly giggle. The back of the wall suddenly gave way and I was hurled to the top of the wall, my life hopelessly doomed.

So I thought. It turns out the walls are supposed to slide and it’s part of the fun of the ride. As the ride slowed down I tried to gather what brain cells I had left — my mind had become mush.

I needed to slow down so I found the Orbiter, a variation of the scrambler that added rising and falling to the mix. It calmed me down enough to make an attempt at the Zipper, the Big Kahuna of rides.

I got in line and worked my way to the front while I watched the machine send riders spinning in their carts and rotated the carts in a circle.

Heavy metal blared, as to announce the ride’s presence as the biggest and baddest on the block. I stood and stared directly at the steel beast ready for whatever it had. As my turn to board came, the operator asked me where my partner was.

Partner? This battle was going to be mine and mine only. Apparently he didn’t understand that the situation had taken on larger implications that were beyond him and me. Perhaps he could see his mammoth of a machine was not going to stand against me on this day as he ushered me away.

Zipper — I will return and I will slay thee. Not because I want to, nor because I have to, but because the world may depend on it for the future. For if I allow the machines to win once, just once, the war is lost.

Well, OK, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of the midway at the Freeborn County Fair.