SKOWHEGAN — The Skowhegan State Fair is pushing 200.

The 199th annual fair — the longest continuously operating agricultural fair in the nation — opens Thursday for a 10-day ride down the midway with games, food, livestock, garden exhibits, rides, harness racing, live music, Wildlife Encounters and agricultural attractions.

Gates open at 7 a.m. Thursday with a $1 admission fee and a $12 all-day ride bracelet. The midway, operated by Fiesta Shows, opens at 1 p.m. The day ends at 7 p.m. with live wrestling matches from the North Atlantic Wrestling Association.

On Tuesday, fair workers were busy assembling the estimated 37 rides offered by Fiesta Shows, opening food booths and gearing up for the anticipated rush of fairgoers.

“We’re going to have some great weather. We’ve got some new rides in here. We’ve got that super-loop upside down ride. It’s going to be great,” said John Flynn, part owner and vice president of Fiesta Shows.

Flynn said the super-loop he described is called the Fire Ball — which has the same name as a ride that broke apart and killed an 18-year-old man July 26 at the Ohio State Fair, but the one in Skowhegan is a different ride made by a different company. Flynn said his company owns one ride made by Dutch manufacturer KMG, which made the fatal ride, but that ride didn’t come to Skowhegan with the others. He said Fiesta Shows is mindful of the safety at state fairs.

“Not here — KMG — no, I don’t have any here, but I do own one,” he said. “It’s a very safe ride. We’ve never had any problems with it. The state comes in every single time we set up, and they go through every single ride.”

Fair rides are inspected by the Office of State Fire Marshal.

Flynn, of Seabrook, New Hampshire, said another new midway attraction is the Spider Ride, like the old Octopus ride, which was being set up Tuesday to join the Tornado, Trabant and Pharaoh’s Fury.

“I love Skowhegan Fair,” he said. “I love the racetrack. I love the grandstand. I love the entertainment they have there. I’m a horse person; they have a lot of horse events here.”

Over at the Fire Ball, which Flynn said “goes back and forth and does 360s all the way around,” Luke Adams, of Winslow, said he has worked with the fair for its full run for six years. He was working Tuesday tightening the final nuts and bolts on the Fire Ball.

“It’s an experience,” he said of riding the fair circuit. “I set ’em up, tear ’em down and just move from spot to spot. It’s a different Fire Ball, by the way. It’s not the one from Ohio. It’s a completely different company.”

Farther along the midway Tuesday, Oscar Martinez Aimenta, from Mexico, was putting everything he had into hammering metal stakes into the tarmac to secure food booths run by Smokey’s Greater Shows.

Jason Berube, of the town of Mexico, said the metal stakes go down about 4 feet into the ground to make sure the “food joints” don’t blow over in the wind.

“We have two lemonades, fried dough, two sausage vans and a french fry,” Berube said. “I’ve been doing this since I was 15. I’m 47 now. I like it. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Melissa Hadley, Berube’s girlfriend, also from the town of Mexico, said this year is her first stop at the Skowhegan State Fair.

“I’ve done it years, ticket selling, but this is my first day here for this show,” she said from the door of one of the booths. “It’s fine. I like it.”

The fair continues Friday with a $10 gate admission and $15 all-day ride bracelet. The popular demolition derby is scheduled for 7 p.m., following the wrestling show at 5:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday the gate admission is $10 with a $17 all-day ride bracelet. Harness racing opens on the track Sunday at 1 p.m. A battle of the bands is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday. Monday is senior citizen day featuring $4 gate admission. The fair continues through Saturday Aug. 19.

For a complete list of times and events, go to www.skowheganstatefair.com.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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