Tulsa State Fair Skyride Gets Facelift

Managing Editor

LONG-TERM INVESTOR: Mark Andrus, left, president and CEO of Expo Square, stands in front of the Tulsa State Fair’s Von Roll Skyride with Fair Manager Amanda Blair and Don McClure, who recently signed a 10-year agreement with the Fair to maintain the Skyride.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

As the Tulsa State Fair, Oct. 1-11, nears, anticipation for the rides and new unexpected food items is never far behind.

One ride that has been in existence on the fairgrounds as long as most people can remember and is one of the longest running in the country is the Von Roll Skyride.
The Fair recently entered into a 10-year partnership agreement with Don McClure, who owns and operates the Skyride belonging to the Minnesota State Fair and is part owner of Buck Hill ski lodge in Burnsville, Minnesota. McClure will help to fund the ongoing maintenance of Tulsa’s historic Skyride, which is one of only 11 still operating in the U.S.

“From 1965 until now, this Skyride hadn’t changed much,” says Mark Andrus, president and of Expo Square. “The Fair has always had the expertise to run it safely through the years but never the finances or expertise to bring it up to the 21st century.”

Enter McClure, who heard about the Fair’s Skyride “through the grapevine” and called Andrus in December 2013 to inquire about the ride, says McClure.

McClure has been in the ski industry for 40 years and has owned the Skyride at the Minnesota State Fair since 2003. Since then, he has invested about $1 million in the ride.

After reaching an agreement with the Tulsa State Fair, McClure got right to work.
Neon lights have been installed on the outside of each Skyride car, or cabin. The east and west terminals, where riders load and unload, have been painted blue and white. The west terminal has received a new roof. The mechanical work has been improved, and the number of functioning cars has been increased from 27 to 34.

“Don has the qualifications to give the ride the proper care and updates it needs and to improve it and make it better for tomorrow,” says Fair Manager Amanda Blair.

The partnership will allow the Fair to continue to receive the same amount of proceeds it has received from the ride in years past but will allow McClure to maintain the ride and make significant yearly investments in it.

“This partnership decreases the Fair’s financial risk but will help the Skyride grow and gain more riders through the years,” Blair says.

Another addition to the Fair this year, in efforts to add further transportation convenience, is a fourth shuttle and parking location for the Fair Transit System.
Patrons can now shuttle from -Tulsa, in addition to the transit system’s already-established locations: Promenade Mall, Tulsa Public Schools Service Center and Nathan Hale High School.

The -Tulsa campus was added due to its northern location and the size and general safety of its parking area, says Blair. “We want people to feel safe leaving their cars for a few hours.”

The shuttles run approximately every 15 minutes and will be operating M-Th: 5 p.m.-11, F: 5 p.m.-midnight, S: 10 a.m.-midnight, Su: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Parking and transit information as well as maps can be found at tulsastatefair.com.
Blair encourages visitors to use the transit system for a number of reasons that provide all-around benefits to both the Tulsa State Fair and patrons.

The transit system is essential to growing the number of visitors to the Fair, says Blair. “In order for the Fair to grow, visitors have to use our transit system because there’s only so much parking on site.”

In addition, Fair staff endeavor to make the Fair-going experience as headache-free as possible. “The transit system is a free way to arrive right at the door and save time and money,” she says. “It alleviates traffic and makes it easy for visitors to arrive and relax and not to be stressed about finding a parking spot.”

Also for the first time this year, six designated outdoor smoking areas will be located on the fairgrounds around main venues such as music tents, livestock arenas and the River Spirit Expo.

“This new feature is to encourage patrons to use these areas to smoke instead of smoking anywhere outside, which will help to create a more family-friendly environment,” says Blair.

Continuing to incorporate Dizzy, the Tulsa State Fair goat mascot, the theme for the 2015 State Fair is Goat-Tastic, basically meaning “it’s goat-tastic approved,” says Blair.

Coming in the September issue will be information on new features and returning favorites for this year’s Tulsa State Fair.

Updated 08-19-2015

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