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Western WA Fair

Carousel . Clara Peller . Coaster . Old Mill . Skyride

Edward Bollinger wanted more than just portable rides for the Western Washington Fair held in Puyallup, Washington. In 1932 he constructed the Old Mill. A slow-paced tunnel of love ride with boats moved with the current powered by a paddlewheel. Inside were scenes for viewing. Men could stop their boat inside for a short time. Courtesy of E Stratton is this picture of the Old Mill.

Part of the ride's appeal was the last scene of a donkey eating from a manger. As the boat passed, it would trip a lever and the donkey's hind legs flew up. Boat occupants would react and be laughing as they exited the ride. Those seeing the laughter would purchase a ticket to see what others were laughing about. This ride was destroyed along with other buildings in a June 1970 arson fire.

January 2001, a crew from the fair traveled to Oaks Park in Portland, Oregon to retrieve the only surviving Old Mill boat. They plan to restore it for display in their museum of 100 plus years entertaining the community.

On page 68 of "Doin' The Puyallup" (An Illustrated History of the Western Washington Fair Since 1900 that was published in 1991) Edward Bollinger can be seen standing on the right wearing a light gray suit and white hat.

From 1932 through 2004, Robert was on the fairgrounds all but 2 years. During WWII, his duties included inspecting the grounds.

As the Old Mill (seen in picture on above) was such a success, Edward and Robert Bollinger built a wooden roller coaster around 1935.

John Miller was hired to design the coaster. He designed one for the area the Fair Board had approved but said it would be a much better ride if it were 50 feet longer. After a conversation with the Fair Board, Permission was granted for the additional 50 feet. The addition required that delivery trucks drive under the coaster.

John Miller stayed up all night redrawing the plans on some butcher paper and plywood. The Douglas fir framework was made on the ground then hoisted into position with Model-A Ford fitted with block and tackle.

Several pictures were taken using the roller coaster. One of these was with the train sitting in the middle of a high curve. The coaster crew positioned the train on the curve and set it brakes. Members of the Western Washington Fair Board then walked up maintenance walkway of the structure and boarded the train for their picture taking session. When they were done, they walked back down the walkway.
Below pictures were taken during the 1935 construction

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Clara Peller of Wendy's "Where's The Beef?" fame also had her picture taken on this roller coaster. As she had a breathing problem, it was a little more difficult to get her up to the train. She had a unique way of putting things that made all around her smile while taking all that was asked of her in stride.

A Tacoma man, who spent 18 of his summer vacations working as a general handyman and track inspector, is the only recorded fatality of this coaster.

Housed in a round building on the WW Fairgrounds is a 1917 Parker Toboggan Portable Carousel (PTC 43). This is one of five carousels that were mounted on a wagon so they could be easily transported with a traveling show.

Per August 15, 1989 note from Robert to Mr. Morgan of the National Carousel Association, "I feel very honored by your remarks in your last letter and would be happy to assist you in any way at the convention. I know most of the history of merry-go-rounds in the Northwest and of Perron's work."

". . . I gave a Philadelphia Toboggan MFG #43 built in 1917 to the Western Washington Fair. At present, there were only two of them in existence. . . I completely restored it with Pat and Tom Cooper doing the art work. The fair built a fine large building, sprinkled and electrically heated for the machine. It operates on special events and the 17 day fair each year. . . "

Robert is standing beside the house with his initials painted on the bridle (you can barely see REB in white on the mustard colored bridle)

The PTC 43 carousel has a Wurlitzer Band Organ (circa 1916). It was owned by Levitt, Brown, & Higgins Shows. In 1923 there were two rides available for sale. Both Earl Douglas and Edward Bollinger wanted to purchased the carousel so they drew straws. Edward drew the 'short straw' enabling Earl to purchase the carousel. In 1932, Edward and Robert Bollinger purchased the carousel from Earl Douglas' widow.

Robert donated this goat to the Western Washington Fair.

A third ownership interest in the Skyride was another contribution to the WWF by Robert Bollinger. The Skyride is an overhead ride consisting of enclosed cabins that take riders from one end of the fairgrounds to the other.

In the early 1960's, representatives from the Fair asked Robert to run the carnival (midway) games at the fair. Robert was unclear when relating this story; however, he accepted their offer to thus became the new owner of the midway games. This article, "Western Washington Fair Midway Issues" dated September 23, 1949, might help explain why he was asked to take over these games and his relunctance to be involved with them.

With the addition of the games, FunTastic entities were formed. FunTastic Rides was owned by Robert, FunTastic Games was sold. Both entities were booked at the same play spots thus FunTastic Shows was created to handle booking.

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Updated 06/13/2014 |