ALTAMONT The doors swung open at the Altamont Fair yesterday under rainy skies, but by the afternoon the clouds were clearing and the crowds were already turning out for the 188th annual event.
For the second time running, a $15 fair admission is buying attendees parking and all of the attractions and rides they can cram into their visit.
Yesterday, the midway was slowly filling up with patrons availing themselves of that option, and many were gravitating towards a new addition to the fair that's either terrifying or enticing, depending on your disposition: The Stinger.
Rick Reithoffer, president of Reithoffer Shows, which is running the midway at Altamont, went all the way to Genoa, Italy to find the ride. It's one of only nine in the world, and the first to make it out of Europe.
He ordered the 100,000-lb. machine in the winter, but it just made it to the states recently. Reithoffer declined to name the price of the ride, but acknowledged it was “very expensive.”
The Stinger is worth it to Reithoffer, even though it takes two trailers to move it from show to show, because it takes thrill seekers in a direction no other ride can equal.
“This is the newest piece of candy at the candy store,” Reithoffer said.
The Stinger's pendulum motion starts slow but builds to spin riders a complete 360 degrees, sending them a gut-wrenching eight stories into the air. While they're swinging, the “claw” holding up to 16 brave souls spins on its own axis of motion, as do each of the four rows of seats.
The effect is jarring even from the ground, as riders whirl through the air in multiple directions. At night, 16,000 LED bulbs turn the Stinger into a light show unrivaled on the rest of the midway.