Tulsa State Fair's roller-coaster history
The priest wore a robe adorned with carnival symbols to preach the good word to a few hundred carneys at the Tulsa State Fair in 1983.
"God lives on the midway," Father John Vakulskas told a congregation faithful to a higher power and the idea that trickery, freaks and plush toys could put cash in their pockets.
If God lives on the midway, then he's seen quite a bit - and maybe eaten a few funnel cakes - in the fair's roller-coaster history from the small-time to a big-time family affair.
Much of that history is found within a single white box in the Tulsa World's archive. Dig through it, and so many stories beg for retelling.
These tales you're about to read are culled from stories in the World, Tulsa Tribune and a smattering from the Tulsa Daily Democrat. Some tidbits come from Amanda Bretz's new book "Tulsa State Fair," which chronicles the fair's history in black-and-white snapshots.
The fair began in the late 1890s, when it was nothing but a street fair in downtown Tulsa. By 1903 - a time when Tulsa's population was roughly 1,400 people three years earlier - the fairs happened in "tabernacle tents" at 11th Street and Elgin Avenue, and at the Western Association baseball park on Archer Street and North Boston Avenue
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