Frisbee-catching dogs, an 85-foot pendulum thrill ride and a day that celebrates the many Irish families in the area are among the new attractions at the 2011 Altamont Fair, which runs until Sunday.
Because of the dreary weather, attendance was low on Tuesday, the fair’s first day, but the lines were long and the stands crowded for the fair’s new animal shows and amusement ride.
Making its United States debut at the 118th Altamont Fair, “The Stinger,” a rotating pendulum ride that swings 360 degrees through the air, was in constant demand.
“I’ve never ridden anything like it,” said Zak Houazine of Guilderland. “It’s scary but exhilarating.”
The ride was purchased in Italy in December by Rick Reithoffer of Reithhoffer Shows after he heard it was the “hottest new ride in Europe.” Only nine of the rides exist in the world, and the only one in North America is owned by Reithoffer’s 115-year-old family business.
The technology used to create the ride is new and allows all of the moving pieces on the ride to rotate 360 degrees, including the cars the riders sit in. The attraction at one point holds riders upside-down for several seconds, producing a feeling of weightlessness.
The ride is in such high demand in Europe that the company that makes it, Technical Park, has put all other American requests on backorder, Reithoffer said. Purchasing the ride was “very expensive,” Reithoffer said, but he wouldn’t give an exact price.
Grant Beals, 17, called the ride a “gut buster,” while employee Rabbi Eroderson, who works one of the games, called it the best ride he’s ever been on.
“You feel like you’re flying,” he said.
Concerning safety, Reithoffer said the rides are checked each week by inspectors and in New York by the state Department of Labor. The rides are also ridden each day by employees before opening.
Also new this year are several animal shows, like the Disc-Connected K9’s, World Famous Frisbee Dogs show, the Amazing Kids Circus, the Two by Two Zoo and the Hall’s Bear Mountain Wildlife Show.
The stands were packed for the dogs of Disc-Connected K9’s at their first show on Tuesday.
The dogs are trained and owned by Lawrence Fredrick, a former Frisbee champion. All of the dogs are rescues who were previously abused or abandoned. Many are now disc dog world champions, Fredrick said.
Before each performance, Fredrick tells the story of each dog and how it came to perform with him.
Hyzer, a small Jack Russell Terrier who was abandoned by his owner, made his show debut on the first day of the fair. He made some minor mistakes but overall finished most of his tricks with precision and flair.
Different dogs are used at each day’s three shows, so no two shows are alike.
“Because of the circumstances, I capitalize on what the dogs like to do and not what I think should be done, like some other people in the business,” said Fredrick.
A new themed day has also been added to the fair’s lineup.
Irish Day is now on Saturday, with performances by the Schenectady Pipe Band and the Farrell School of Irish Dance. In addition to Irish music, Irish beer will be in the beer garden and vendors will serve Irish food.
“We have a large following of people who are part of the fairgrounds and of Irish decent,” said Fair Director Pat Canaday of the theme choice. “We think people will love it.”
The all inclusive price that was added last year was still a matter of contention for some.
Ellen Sandman-Young of Voorheesville brought her two young daughters to opening day because they were bored, but she thought the price was a bit steep for the young ones.
“I can understand it for the adults, but children 12 and younger should be cheaper,” she said.
The $15 admission fee for adults and children 36 inches and taller covers rides and all shows and exhibits. All shorter children are free.
Canaday said she thought the price was reasonable and most people have gotten used to the idea by now.
“It’s like a grand buffet,” she said. “You may not choose to select every activity offered, but it’s a good price for families or dates.”