The Ride of Your Life

At 11 a.m. on Friday the L.A. County Fair awoke – and inhaled. People began to shuffle in and out of animal stalls and booths, some in search of that broom that sweeps up spilled milk in one flick of the wrist, while others looked for a knife that could cut through shoes.

But when the organ of “aerobical” rides began to torch and grease the sky – spinning out of control at lightning speed and then softly back to stillness, the heart of the fair began to pump and the vibrations radiated out through the curdling screams of thrill-seeking fairgoers.

“It’s the rush,” said Barbara Farmer, a fairgoer from Acton. “It’s the experience you’re not going to have in any other way, not…in real life.”

With names like Mega Drop, Kamikaze and Tornado, it’s no wonder that people come from miles around just to take a bite out of the fun.

“It took us about an hour to get here from my house,” said Ann Schroeder, a fairgoer from Burbank.

Although slightly distant from central Los Angeles the fair still manages to attract a wide spectrum of people. School children, bused in from central Los Angeles weaved in and out of carnival games and cotton candy stands awaiting the delayed opening of some of the rides.

“I think the rides should have opened earlier,” Kathy Sori, a fairgoer from Los Angeles said. “The Ferris wheel is closed and my kids wanted to get on it.”

Although the rides are among the main attractions at the fair, they are also among the last attractions to pump into full swing. Many people were puddling around the carnival area on Friday just waiting for certain rides to start.

“I think if you’re going to pay to get in here and you’re going to pay that much for tickets, they should be open – everything should be open,” Farmer said.

The fair opened at 11 a.m on Saturday and the rides didn’t switch into full swing until about noon. This angered some children and parents who had only until about

1 p.m to take advantage of the fairs wide spectrum of heart-pumping thrill rides, however by noon the entire amusement park was up and running as usual.

Kaleidoscope sensations raced through the blood of people who braved such rides as the Hard Rock and Kamikaze, while parents and looky-loos hovered in the shadows living vicariously through their yelps of joy. Some rides at the fair, like the slide, can accommodate even the most timid of people, but most of these machines thrive on those who can swallow their hesitations and take the ride of their life.

Judging from the large crowds, the most popular ride at the fair was the classic Ferris wheel. Even after all these years people still found solace in the arc of the Grand Wheel. Other rides that were popular didn’t depend on nostalgia to keep the crowds.

The Mega Drop, a ride that sends you free falling through the air, keeps the lines long with it’s sheer thrill power and with a slogan like “feel the rush,” it’s not surprising that people gravitate in its direction.

The Hard Rock was another ride that attracted curious passersby by just being itself. Long arms spun and twirled to give all who entered a run for the money and all who watched a reason to stay grounded.

Whether someone had a view from the top or glance from the ground, the fair rides this year buzzed and electrified both the risk taker and the onlooker. No one was left alone by the action, but those who chose to participate got a chance to live, if even for a moment, on the wild side.

Katherine Hillier can be reached at khillier@ulv.edu.

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