Seattle Wheel returns to Columbia County Fair

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The Columbia County Fair skyline is once again complete with the return of Drew Expositions’s Seattle Wheel.

Drew Exposition's Seattle Wheel is the only replica of the original Seattle Wheel built for the 1962 World's Fair, said Jim Drew, the owner of Drew Expositions.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Drew Exposition's Seattle Wheel is the only replica of the original Seattle Wheel built for the 1962 World's Fair, said Jim Drew, the owner of Drew Expositions.

“Last year, a lot of people recognized there was no Ferris wheel,” said Columbia County Merchants Association President Dennis Hobbs. “The Ferris wheel is back.”

The 47th annual fair, put on by the Merchants, opens Thursday, Nov. 1, and runs through Nov. 10 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds on Columbia Road near Patriots Park.

The uniquely-designed Ferris wheel is the only replica of the original Seattle Wheel built for the 1962 World’s Fair, said Jim Drew, the owner of Drew Expositions, which provides the fair midway. It is featured in the Elvis Presley film It Happened at the World’s Fair.

Drew’s Seattle Wheel was set up for the first time in 1965 and was purchased by Drew Expositions in 1971.

“It’s a pretty machine and there’s only one around,” Drew said, adding the Ferris wheel is always a popular fair attraction.

“It’s not just a regular old Ferris wheel. It’s got a lot of history behind it and it’s a unique design.”

But in May 2011, a maintenance worker took the wheel apart and reconnected a cable incorrectly. The cable came loose, knocked the worker off scaffolding and damaged the ride.

“It tore the ride up pretty good,” Drew said. “It bent some pieces up.”

After nearly a year of repairs and lots of custom-made parts, Drew’s Seattle Wheel took center stage at the fairs again in the spring. It is always popular, Drew said.

When assembled, the wheel stands more than 90 feet high and doesn’t include the bulky structure of traditional Ferris wheels.

“Unlike most (Ferris wheels), this one, when you’re riding it, there’s not a lot of structure around you,” Drew said. “You’re kind of just hanging out there. It doesn’t have as many pieces around you. You don’t feel as boxed in.”

Hobbs said the fair features many popular attractions as well as some new ones.

“We’ve had some neat things we’ve used and brought back year after year,” Hobbs said, adding that chain saw carver Brian Ruth is returning to create nightly carvings that will be auctioned off on Nov. 10.

The Amazing Rainforest Experience, a nightly show featuring exotic rainforest animals, and Live Shark Encounter, the Ultimate Attraction, give up-close views of animals.

“It’s my understanding that’s the only traveling live-shark show in the U.S.,” Hobbs said.

Stoney Roberts’ Big Demolition Derby will crash into the fair again Monday at 7:30 p.m.

“We really had a big turnout last year,” Hobbs said of the derby. “It’s a pretty fun thing to watch.”

The fair midway also includes traditional rides, food and games.

Hobbs said fairgoers will notice some upgrades to the fairgrounds, including a new front entrance, a paved road to the handicap parking areas and more paving throughout the midway.

For information, visit www.columbiacountyfair.net.

COLUMBIA COUNTY FAIR

The Columbia County Fairgrounds are at 5462 Columbia Road in Grovetown near Patriots Park. For more details, see www.columbiacountyfair.net.

THURSDAY, NOV. 1: 5-11 p.m.; admission free with one new toy for Toys for Tots; $5 without a toy; $18 unlimited rides; The Unmentionables

FRIDAY, NOV. 2: 5 p.m. to midnight; admission $5; Appling Road Band

SATURDAY, NOV. 3: Noon to midnight; admission $5; free rides noon to 1 p.m.; Steel Cross

SUNDAY, NOV. 4: 1-11 p.m.; admission $5; $1 off with church bulletin; $18 unlimited rides; University of Georgia Georgettes 3-5 p.m.

MONDAY, NOV. 5: 5-11 p.m.; admission $5; $18 unlimited rides; Cricket Ridge; Stoney Roberts’ Big Demolition Derby 7:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, NOV. 6: 3-11 p.m.; admission $5; free for students 3-5 p.m.; $3 for seniors and military with ID; $18 unlimited rides; Apollo Night for ages 1-12

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 7: 5-11 p.m.; admission $5; free with four nonperishable food donations per person; $18 unlimited rides; The Flying Monkeys

THURSDAY, NOV. 8: 5-11 p.m.; admission $5; $18 unlimited rides; Apollo Night for adults

FRIDAY, NOV. 9: 5 p.m. to midnight; admission $5; Danny Rhea and Dust

SATURDAY, NOV. 10: Noon to midnight; admission $5; free rides noon to 1 p.m.; Flashback; 9 p.m. chain saw carvings auction

COLUMBIA COUNTY FALL FESTIVAL AND BAZAAR

WHEN: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 3

WHERE: Baker Place Elementary School, 2011 Hero Way

WHAT: Free; shopping with 34 vendors; blood drive with Shepeard Community Blood Center; ID-A-Child sessions with Columbia County Sheriff’s Office; activities for children


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