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The River Raft ride at the State Fair

Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

HEADACHES AT THE FAIR

Aug. 23-24: Stratosphere ride closed after complications.

Aug. 25: Stratosphere ride reopened.

Tuesday: River Raft Ride quits three times, back open at 5:50 p.m., then shut down again for the rest of the night.

Second ride at State Fair falters

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and MARY LYNN SMITH
  • Star Tribune s t aff w r iters
  • August 29, 2012 - 7:04 AM

Another ride at the Minnesota State Fair went down for the count on Tuesday.

And the timing couldn't have been worse.

The River Raft Ride, which offers respite during hot fair days, quit Tuesday afternoon. Stranded riders were escorted onto dry land and given refunds. No one was injured.

The ride, which quit three times Tuesday, was back up and running by about 5:50 p.m. Minutes later, it came to a halt yet again, forcing operators to shut it down for the night. Ride operators told patrons that the same thing had happened Monday, explaining that the malfunction involves an electrical short kicking on an automatic shutoff.

"It's a mechanical device with lots of moving parts," said Skip Johnson, one of the ride's owners.

Fair officials hope that it will be back up and running on Wednesday, as temperatures make their way into the 90s and top off at about 100 degrees on Thursday.

"They will get slammed" with riders for the next couple of days, said fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette. "They're going to make hay while the sun shines."

Last week, the popular Stratosphere swing ride reopened Saturday evening after two days of complications. The 200-foot-high ride stalled Thursday and Friday, leaving riders briefly stuck up in the air and was shut down again Saturday.

Owner Tom McDonagh said a maintenance issue prompted Saturday's closing. The Stratosphere reopened at 8:10 p.m. with an inspector's approval and the maintenance issues fixed. The ride also malfunctioned at the Wisconsin State Fair this month.

Schuette said rides "periodically have to be shut down for maintenance" during the fair. "It's normal," she said. But the Stratosphere's problems likely generated more news coverage because it's new and "hugely popular."

A less popular ride might not have generated a lot of news, she said.

pwalsh@startribune.com 612-673-4482 mlsmith@startribune.com 612-673-4788

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