News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 2, 2014

New midway ride to debut at Vigo Fair

TERRE HAUTE — What’s more exciting than sitting in a little seat suspended by a cable nearly 100 feet in the air? And spinning around at the same time?

Drew Expositions, which calls itself America’s amusement park on tour, is introducing a brand new thrill ride at this year’s Vigo County Fair: the Zoogvogel.

It’s a tower swing ride that stands straight up and suspends up to 24 riders in two-person seats from long cables as they rise higher and higher in the air while rotating and floating ever farther away from the tower. The ride will get its first public use at next week’s Vigo County Fair.

“ It’s brand new,” said James Graybeal, who manages the road show for Drew. “I think this is going to be a good piece for us.”

Jennifer Cook, Wabash Valley fair board president, said for Drew Expositions to debut the new ride at the Vigo County Fair is an honor, and she believes the decision says a lot for the good and long relationship between the fair and the Georgia-based company.

“I think it’s extremely exciting that Drew Expositions decided to debut their new ride at the Vigo County Fair,” Cook said. “What a great opportunity.”

The colorful ride is a tall tower sitting on a truck trailer platform. Swings are attached to long arms that extend out from the tower and rotate as they are lifted higher and higher up the tower.

As about a dozen workers put the ride together Wednesday afternoon, Graybeal explained the Zoogvogel and other rides will be inspected today by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Different agencies perform the same task in different states, he said.

Asked whether he is concerned about possible first-day problems for the new ride, Graybeal said the Zoogvogel has already undergone a lot of testing.

“They had it up and running all day [Tuesday]” at the factory, Graybeal said. “We’ll do the same thing. Everything we have, we run it and run and run it,” he said.

Drew Expositions has an excellent safety record, Cook said. The company provides amusements for several state fairs, and Vigo County is fortunate to have the company make its annual stop here, she said.

Drew Expositions has been coming to Vigo County for about 60 years, Graybeal said. One of the most popular rides these days is called the Cyclops, which stands just a few yards from the Zoogvogel.

Because it travels from state to state, Drew Expositions operates one of the safest operations around, Graybeal said. That’s because the company faces inspections in each state – often with emphasis on different features of the rides, he said. And, because Drew workers take the rides apart and reassemble them so often, each piece gets a frequent, close look, he said.

The Vigo County Fair starts Sunday. Some of the rides will not be available until 6 p.m. that first day, but the Zoogvogel, the Cyclops and several others will be ready by 1 p.m., Graybeal said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

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