Salem Fair wraps up, rolls out
It's a big job getting the show back on the road, and the cleanup is a fair-sized task, too.
Photos by Stephanie Klein-Davis | The Roanoke Times
The Wave Swinger slings fairgoers nearly sideways on seats suspended from chains recently at the Salem Fair. The operation will set up next near Culpeper for the Madison County Fair.
By Jeff Sturgeon
July 16, 2012
Salem, VA--This morning, the crew of the 13-day Salem Fair is nearing the end of an all-nighter to dismantle the big carnival, put it on wheels and head up the highway.
With the fair concluded, it's on to the next show -- as quickly as possible.
"We tear all this down, we hook up all the stuff and we go," said Dale Negus, concession manager for fair operator Deggeller Attractions, on Sunday during the Salem Fair's final hours.
Dale Negus of Orlando, Fla., is the concession manager for fair operator Deggeller Attractions. "This I don't think was a record year in here, but it was a good year," he said.
The fair operator, which moves in many caravans of trucks and RVs, is due at the Madison County Fair near Culpeper on Tuesday.
By this afternoon, predicted Carey Harveycutter, Salem's director of civic facilities, the 7-acre parking lot of the Salem Civic Center and Salem Memorial Ballpark "will be a mess with a lot of trash." But cleanup crews know how to handle that.
Litter collection, removal of portable toilets and general straightening are on the logistical side of the carnival that few patrons see. There is little doubt the job will get done; this is the 25th running of the event at the same venue with many of the same people behind the scenes.
Negus, just one, said his late father, Ralph, was the representative with Florida-based Deggeller Attractions who met with Salem officials to plan the first carnival, which took place in 1988. Negus attributes the fair's permanence to, among other things, the fact that admission is free.
Nikita Huddleston of Vinton (left) and Tammy Slone of Glenvar work in a lemonade concession stand at the Salem Fair, selling both freshly squeezed and frozen lemonades. Slone, who works regularly at the Williamson Road Pancake House, says it is great way to earn vacation money. She also works at New York Pizza in Vinton.
The rides, games and of course food cost money, but there are free acts galore, from dancing elephants and racing pigs to a magic show and family of acrobats. Negus estimated there are 100 to 150 things to do at the Salem Fair, which has been dubbed the largest fair in the state. Salem expected 350,000 total admissions.
The June 29 windstorm hit before opening day, during setup, and destroyed a canvas shelter that hung outside the recreational vehicle that is Deggeller's office and ripped open an overhead covering at the bumper cars. The fair site continued to have electricity and the event started on time the following Tuesday. But the hot weather after the storm might have melted spirits for a day at the fair, especially for the tens of thousands of people with no air conditioning to return home to.
The fair seemed less full to Negus during the heat wave.
"This I don't think was a record year in here, but it was a good year," he said.