Michael A. Sawyers
CUMBERLAND — If something doesn’t smell quite right today at the Allegany County Fairgrounds, don’t worry, the animals will be there on Saturday.
Also expected on that first day of the county’s annual tribute to agriculture and the agrarian way of life are sundry giggles and grins, sticky cotton candy faces and the gasps that go with a carnival ride ... make that screams.
“You can be anywhere on the fairground, from the parking lot to the horse ring, and you will hear the screams of the people riding the Stinger,” said Fair Manager Kevin Kamauf.
“When we run the Stinger on program 4, we get one puker every four or five rides,” said Jeff Alberts, the safety coordinator for Reithoffer Shows. “Here, at Cumberland, we are going to use program 2, which is still pretty exciting.”
The Stinger’s appearance at last year’s fair was the first time it was in Maryland, according to Kamauf. In fact, this is the only traveling Stinger in the country, according to Alberts, though a stationary Stinger is at Niagara Falls, N.Y.
“The Stinger and the Wild Mouse are two state fair or amusement park style-rides we are fortunate to get here,” Kamauf said. “Last week they were in Brockton, Mass., and next week they will be taken to the West Virginia State Fair and, guess what, we are right on the way between the two.”
Perhaps the best way to describe the Stinger is to say it will spin a rider every which way but loose at a height of up to 86 feet.
“The fair is about 60 percent set up,” Kamauf said, three days before the first Stinger rider screams. Preparation was evident Wednesday. Blue safety helmets worn by the Reithoffer crews speckled the fairgrounds.
The Wild Mouse was still resting unassembled on semitrailers, five of them.
There are $80,000 worth of new LED lights on the Ferris wheel.
“You can watch them for 20 minutes and they won’t repeat themselves,” Alberts said.
“It’s like watching fireworks,” added Kamauf.
No tomatoes or cucumbers or radishes were on the tables in the multipurpose building, but that will change on Sunday, according to Lacie Ashby of the University of Maryland Extension.
The fair’s veggie world opens for public touring Monday afternoon, after judging in the morning.
Livestock will begin arriving Saturday, changing the fragrance on and near the fairgrounds.
Fairgoers needing to relieve themselves will find renovated and sparkling clean rest rooms courtesy of the Allegany County maintenance crew. “Eighteen stalls on the women’s side,” Kamauf said. “No waiting.”
About 40,000 people attend the fair each year, Kamauf said. Some of them are young families who may appreciate the diaper-changing station provided by the West Baptist Association. There are food vendors who have been returning for 40 years.
“Try to walk by the sausage and pepper sandwiches without reaching for your wallet,” challenged Kamauf.
Kamauf, the fair manager for nine years and an assistant manager for 17 years before that, grew up in a house on the fairgrounds.
“I guess you could say this is actually my 59th fair,” he said Wednesday. “It’s a passion for me. I’m happy when I see smiles at the fair.”
Contact Michael A. Sawyers at email@example.com.