After the party

Silver Dollar Fair takes a year to prepare, days to dismantle

FAIRLY OVER<br>The Midway ride called the Tornado, shown in the upper photo, doesn’t look quite so scary when it’s packed up for transport.

The Midway ride called the Tornado, shown in the upper photo, doesn’t look quite so scary when it’s packed up for transport.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Remember the movie Big? And how, when Tom Hanks returns to the fairground looking for the fortune-telling machine to make him small again, the place is eerily empty and lifeless?

The Silver Dollar Fairground was a lot like that on Tuesday morning, the day after Memorial Day and the end of the year’s biggest shindig. Well, it wasn’t exactly like the fairground in Big. There was no strange unplugged fortune-telling machine. And although carnival workers had worked through the night packing up, many elements of the fair were still there, sitting idle because none of the fair’s 58,000 guests would be returning.

Midway rides like the Cliff Hanger and the Tilt-a-Wheel were compacted like tents into their efficient rectangular form waiting to be hauled out by semi-truck. Spaced out among the concession stands and bathrooms, the folded-up rides looked like a cow herd kneeling, baking in the sun.

By 11 a.m., the only ride still up was the Zillerator, the carnival’s compact yellow roller coaster. Soon it would join the backward bungee jump and the other rides. Workers from Butler Amusements would disassemble the numbered roller coaster sections and ship them via semi to the next fairground.

Two fairground workers put fresh paper lining down for the parrots before loading them up in the truck. The fair, which was weeks in the making, was almost completely gone in just four days.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Elsewhere, the Silver Dollar Fair crew of 25 to 30 workers dealt with trash pick-up and bathroom cleanup as well as assisting area high school students in taking down their art exhibits and cleaning up six days’ worth of farm-animal mess. Most of the fair’s decorations had been packaged and marked. Signs, mannequins and other props waited to be stored until next year.

While some workers rested in the shade of Ghost City, folded in transport form, the Dip-n-Dots vendor was readying to leave around noon. And next to a replica of Elvis Presley’s childhood home, a museum collection of John Deere tractors, some small but one truly a behemoth, waited their turn.

Other vendors, like Madame Ruby, whose pink booth sat unattended, were not so quick to leave. Maybe Madame Ruby could make a returning young fairgoer big.

Another of the fair’s attractions will be hanging around until Saturday. The Marcan Tiger Preserve’s Bengal tigers from India will enjoy some needed rest this week, until they travel to the San Fernando Valley for their next showing, their trainer said.

Vendors still waiting for their next venue to be ready to receive them are free to stay at the fairground, said fair Manager Tom DiGrazia. One year, a group of tigers hung around for three weeks afterward.

Cleanup is expected to be finished by Friday, DiGrazia said. Races at the Speedway will return Friday, June 8.